Jay Cutler is most important person in Bears’ coaching search
BY NEIL HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org January 15, 2013 11:30AM
The new Bears coach's most important relationship in the organization will be between him and quarterback Jay Cutler. | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times
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Bruce Arians, Marc Trestman and Darrell Bevell can expect to meet team president Ted Phillips and Chairman of the Board George McCaskey while visiting with general manager Phil Emery during a second round of interviews at Halas Hall this week.
For all we know, candidates may also be introduced to matriarch Virginia McCaskey before Emery announces a replacement for Lovie Smith.
What the aforementioned think of the new coach is mostly immaterial, however. The most important relationship in the organization isn’t between the new coach and Emery, or Phillips or even George and his Mom.
It’s imperative that there be synergy between the new coach and Jay Cutler if the Bears are to go where Emery is trying to lead them, which is why the quarterback must be involved in the process.
Nobody is suggesting Cutler make the most important decision of the offseason. He doesn’t have the experience or perspective to choose the new coach. This is Emery’s call, plain and simple, but the general manager should not make the biggest decision of his professional career without giving Cutler’s thoughts and how the quarterback interacts with candidates serious consideration.
Arians, Trestman and Bevell may be finalists to become Bears coach, but there’s intrigue in the air at 1920 Football Drive. Don’t be surprised if a mystery candidate emerges to fill the vacancy created when Smith was relieved of his duties after failing to lead the Bears to the playoffs for the fifth time in six years.
Arians would be the most popular — and seemingly safest — choice among known candidates. He won two Super Bowls with the Steelers and helped mold Ben Roethlisberger into one of the best big-game quarterbacks in the league. A former option quarterback himself, Arians was Peyton Manning’s first quarterback coach and helped rookie Andrew Luck have an MVP-type season while serving as Colts offensive coordinator and interim head coach while Chuck Pagano was battling leukemia this season.
Trestman has been an effective NFL coordinator who was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Frustrated by the lack of upward mobility in the NFL, he turned to the Canadian Football League, where he led the Montreal Alouettes to three Grey Cup championship games, winning two.
There are big-room coaches and little-room coaches, or at least that is how they are referred to in some NFL circles. Little-room coaches are effective communicating with smaller groups of players and excel as position coaches and coordinators. The fear when hiring someone without previous head coaching experience is they will lack the charisma to motivate the entire team.
While Trestman and Arians have proven they can do that, making them safer bets, it’s difficult to ignore Bevell’s body of work.
He was Brett Favre’s offensive coordinator when the former Bear killer and future Hall of Famer did some of his best work in 2009. What rookie third-round pick Russell Wilson accomplished under Bevell’s tutelage while leading the Seahawks to the brink of the NFC Championship Game might be one of the best single-season coaching jobs in league history.
These three seem so evenly matched — at least to an outsider — that Cutler’s input could be a deciding factor.
Regardless of what anybody thinks of the current Bears quarterback, Emery has made it clear that he is the franchise player he will build the offense — and the team — around moving forward. If that’s the case, it’s essential Cutler is on the same page with the new coach from the very start.
That’s not to say involving Cutler in the process will ensure Emery makes the right choice. Cutler and Mike Martz hit it off when they met in a classroom on the Vanderbilt campus before Martz was named the Bears offensive coordinator in 2010 and we all know how that worked out.
Still, after enduring offensive coordinators Ron Turner, Mike Martz and, worst of all, Mike Tice, Cutler deserves as much. After being asked to place his career, not to mention his health, behind the Seven Blocks of Charmin Ultra-Soft, Cutler has earned the right to voice his opinion on the coach who could determine his legacy.