The Chicago Bears need quarterback Jay Cutler at his best to be successful, and if the words of QB coach Matt Cavanaugh are any indication, hopes should be high entering next season. As Cavanaugh told CSN Chicago, the Bears’ starting quarterback is impressing with what he’s doing this offseason:
“I’ve seen incredible progress,” the quarterbacks coach said last week during minicamp in Lake Forest. “When we got in here last year & evaluated him we had a real good conversation with him about certain things that every quarterback should do. We said, ‘Jay it might not be natural, but we want you to try it.’ And he did.”
Since the Bears hired head coach Marc Trestman last year, the expectations on Cutler have been raised by the team’s quarterback-friendly style. Exceptional play from backup QB Josh McCown during Cutler’s absence due to injury only magnified the scrutiny surrounding the position.
But rather than bail on Cutler, the Bears instead doubled down by signing the 31-year-old to a massive seven-year contract, making it clear that he’s the main guy going forward. After years of shaky performance buoyed by excuses, there are none as Cutler enters arguably the biggest season of his career.
With teammates like Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte and a system like Trestman’s, this is going to be a high-powered offense, but it needs Cutler to manage the barrage.
That came in fits and starts last season, something Chicago may be preparing to avoid this time around. Cutler threw for 2,621 yards with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 11 games last season, failing to reach 20 touchdowns for the third straight season after topping that mark four times earlier in his career.
That’s unlikely to continue if he stays healthy in 2014.
Cutler has always had the physical tools to be a high-level quarterback, and if he’s truly making progress, this may be the last chance for him to really take another step.