PHOENIX — Hours after a teammate said he’s had to ask an emotionless Jay Cutler just how important winning was to him, Jared Allen said Friday his quarterback was qualified to lead the Bears.
“I played against Jay,” he said during the lead up to Super Bowl XLIX. “He’s a fierce competitor.
“Here’s a guy that used to get in people’s faces. He got crap for that.
“And then he tones it down — and he gets crap for that.”
The Bears “don’t need guys that are rah-rah guys” across the board, the defensive end said.
“What do you determine to be a leader? Someone who’s vocal? Visual?” Allen said. “Does Jay put in the work? Yeah. Does Jay show up on time? Yeah. Is he late? No. Does he answer all the tough questions? Yeah. …
“From that standpoint, for me, I’m saying he’s leading by example. He’s going out and putting in the work. It doesn’t always work out best for you.”
Tight end Martellus Bennett rekindled questions about Cutler’s leadership earlier Friday when he revealed that, after losses, he’s asked a stone-faced Cutler how important the game was to him. Cutler would always say it was.
“When you play football, you want to see emotion,” Bennett told ESPN’s “First Take.” “And when you’re emotionless at times, it affects the team. It affects the viewers.”
Bennett said “most quarterbacks,” but not Cutler, show emotion.
Still, Bennett said he believes in him.
“Jay takes a lot of the beat-down for anything our team does,” he said. “If you really look at the tape, it’s not always his fault. Sometimes it is.”
The Bears are trying to fix that, having replaced their general manager, head coach and all but two assistants.
Allen has spoken with new defensive line coach Jay Rodgers, but not defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who seems likely to install a 3-4 base.
Allen said he could play in a 3-4 — “I can do anything,” he said, “You just gotta take reps at it” — and listed the Broncos’ DeMarcus Ware and the Packers’ Julius Peppers as hybrid pass rushers who have thrived.
Allen said he doesn’t know what vision the Bears have for him.
“So we’ll see,” he said. “I don’t know what the actual defense is going to be yet.”
The Bears can win with Cutler “if you find a coach that knows how to use Jay properly,” he said, citing the Cowboys’ run-first success with quarterback Tony Romo. The Bears have a stellar running back in Matt Forte, he said.
“I think you look at what Jay is capable of doing,” he said. “That’s my answer: it depends on what you think a leader is.
“I look at a leader as a guy who shows up to work and does his job. He’s not always successful, but he’s not out griping about it.
“He eats it when he has to eat it, and he goes about his business.”