As the Bears opened their three-day minicamp on Tuesday, and Jay Cutler spoke for the first time since early January. He answered questions from the media throng after practice and touched on a number of items.
After having a record-breaking first season under coach Marc Trestman’s offense, Cutler is looking forward to seeing what year two has in store. The offense returns all eleven starters that helped break franchise records in total yards (6,109), passing yards (4,450), touchdowns (32), passer rating (96.9) and first downs (344).
“We have the same guys we had last year, which is always good,” Cutler said. “Talent-wise it’s hard to top our o-line and some of the guys we have on the outside and Matt Forte, who is hugely underrated. Talent-wise and being in the system two years and the way the guys work, all that adds up. Hopefully we can stay healthy and see where this thing goes.”
After playing under his fourth offensive coordinator in five seasons last year, Cutler is glad to have some continuity this season. “Going into my ninth year, I think this is only the second or third time I’ve been in an offense multiple years. We’re still in the learning process, but guys have much more familiarity with what the concepts are and the formations and everything, so that’s definitely going to be a help; less thinking and able to go fast.”
Cutler talked about the “hit parade” he went through a couple of years ago when the offensive line was one of the worst in the league. He was asked if that abuse he took affects the way he gets rid of the ball now.
“It’s two-fold. Once you start getting hit a lot, you start taking your eyes off the secondary. You lose a lot of trust up front and it gets difficult to play quarterback that way. You look across the league and you see guys that are getting hit a lot, they’re probably not going to be doing very well. The guys who stay pretty clean are in offenses year-in and year-out and get a feel for the guys in front of them. Those guys are going to be the ones who are in the top of the league every year. So we’ll see how it goes. I think Trest does a great job of emphasizing getting rid of the ball; protection first, and that’s how everything is designed here.”
Cutler divulged how GM Phil Emery approached him to restructure his new deal to get Jared Allen. “Phil said, ‘Do you want your money now?’ And I said, ‘Sure.’ That’s kind of how the restructure went down. I got some credit for that, but I didn’t really do much…And to get a guy like Jared Allen is huge for that defense—a veteran guy, a veteran presence that gets it done every week. I was happy to do it. “
Cutler has impressed quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh with how much he has improved his fundamentals and his openness to change.
“I’ve seen incredible progress,” Cavanaugh said. “When we got here last year and evaluated him, we had a real good conversation with him about certain things we think every quarterback should do. [We said] ‘Jay, it might not be natural to you, but we want you to try it,’ and he did.
“To his credit, he’s taken every bit of suggestion that we’ve given and he’s embraced it; everything from how he holds the ball to how he lines up in the gun pre-snap to how he drops back to his throwing base to his follow through. Every little fundamental we have considered talking to him about, he’s embraced and he’s worked real hard at it.”
Entering the second year under Trestman, Cutler and the Bears are expecting great things. Brandon Marshall said he expects to have the best season in his already stellar career. Also, Matt Forte says the team’s goal is to have a celebration at Grant Park. It is great to see such high enthusiasm come out of Halas Hall. Hopefully, they can fulfill fans’ wishes as well as their own.