The 2013 NFL season was an unique season for Chicago Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler was arguably off to the best start of his career–or at least in a Bears’ uniform–but was slowed with a groin injury.
The injury followed by the success of backup Josh McCown forced Cutler to take a step back re-examine his position with the team. While there was never any question that Cutler was the starting quarterback when healthy, Cutler turned his injury into an opportunity to become a true leader for the Bears.
While injured last season, Cutler was constantly seen on the sideline right next to Bears’ head coach Marc Trestman. In addition, Cutler not only befriended McCown but the two became best friends. In fact, when the Bears’ announced that Cutler would be the starting quarterback for the final three games of the season, both Cutler and McCown were together at Cutler’s house studying the gameplan for the Cleveland Browns.
That is also the time when Cutler personally went to each of his offensive teammates telling them that he is ready to return.
The relationship between McCown and Cutler was a great learning experience for the Bears’ starting quarterback. While Cutler assisted McCown with game preparations, there is no question that Cutler came away with lessons learned from McCown. The biggest lesson McCown taught Cutler is how to lead and gain the respect of your team.
Now, as the Bears begin preparations for the 2014 season, Cutler continues to expand his leadership role–this time with Bears’ sixth round selection David Fales.
Cutler’s support of Fales speaks to his comfort level now that the Bears are considered his team more than at any other point in his Chicago tenure.
During minicamp last weekend, Fales, a sixth-round pick from San Jose State, texted Cutler with questions about his mindset during the progressions of some plays and about the footwork he uses for some concepts. He also would tell Cutler how his days were going with Marc Trestman and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh.
There may have been doubt in the past but there no longer is any question that the Bears’ are Cutler’s team. The Bears are high on Fales and there is a belief that the former San Jose State quarterback could be Cutler’s backup when the season starts.
Cutler is entering the 2014 season after signing a 7-year contract extension with the Bears in January.