MORRISSEY: It’s important for Marc Trestman not to treat Jay Cutler like a star
BY RICK MORRISSEY firstname.lastname@example.org January 16, 2013 11:41PM
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, center, reacts as he sits on the bench after getting injured during the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy King)
Updated: February 19, 2013 2:20PM
Phil Emery seemed to list about 100 things a candidate needed to have if he wanted to be the Bears’ next coach. Good communication skills. Great
leadership ability. Forward
thinking on the offensive side of the ball. And on and on. A king’s butler isn’t as meticulous as Emery is.
But there’s one requirement the general manager didn’t mention to the media that I hope he mentioned to new Bears coach Marc Trestman during their reported eight-hour interview:
‘‘The new coach must not treat Jay Cutler like a star.’’
There’s going to be a lot made of Trestman’s Canadian Football League background, with critics jumping on the fact the Bears had to go to Montreal to find a coach.
I don’t care if the guy is from the Baltic Lingerie League. All I care about is that he finds a way to turn a mediocre quarterback into a good one. I hope we will come to know Trestman as Iron Marc, the man who didn’t put up with Cutler’s churlishness and made him into a real player.
The first thing he needs to do is stop treating Cutler as though he’s something special. He isn’t.
Now, I know Trestman is ridiculously thorough and probably knows, from breaking down tape of PBS’ ‘‘Nova,’’ that there are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on earth. So if you go by that, then, yeah, Cutler’s a star.
But he’s not an NFL star. He’s a quarterback who should feel lucky he has a chance to prove more than what he has proved so far in Chicago. Can he become a great player? I don’t know, and the Bears and Trestman will say the same thing if they’re honest with themselves. If they watched the playoffs last weekend, they have to know Cutler isn’t in the same league as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, Colin Kaepernick or even Joe Flacco.
When it comes to Cutler the last four years, there rarely has been a discouraging word heard coming from Halas Hall. If Gabe Carimi could protect Cutler the way Lovie Smith did, the Bears wouldn’t have offensive-line problems.
So here comes Trestman, who has a history of making quarterbacks better, from Steve Young to Scott Mitchell. He worked with Cutler when he was preparing for the NFL combine out of Vanderbilt. In other words, he has seen Cutler at his best, doing drills that show off his physical skills.
I’m worried that in hiring Trestman, Emery is giving in to the idea that the coach has to have a special relationship with Cutler; i.e., that he has to be sensitive to every one of Cutler’s mood swings. That’s the last thing Cutler needs. He needs somebody to tell him that, yes, he has been blessed with talent but that little in his career reflects it.
He needs help with his mechanics, his decision-making and his attitude. He also needs an offensive line, but that’s for Emery to worry about.
The Bears have invested a lot of money in Cutler, and I’m sure they’re thinking that, at this point, they can’t find anyone better. But he hasn’t improved as a quarterback here.
‘‘I’ll say the same thing that I said this summer: I see Jay as a franchise quarterback,’’ Emery said the day after firing Smith. ‘‘We’ve got to build around him. That’s been the goal from the beginning — to build around Jay and to build our team toward championships.’’
Emery did say it was important that the next coach be able to work with Cutler. Enter Trestman, who beat out Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell for the job.
‘‘Jay being our quarterback and that being a franchise position in terms of importance, it’s very important that that person — either himself or staff-wise — has the right person to help Jay develop,’’ Emery said. ‘‘But it’s also that they help everyone develop.’’
In other words, Cutler is no different than anybody else on the team. I hope Emery really meant that. I hope Trestman does, too. The future is riding on it.