YEAR 6 FOR NO. 6
A look back at Jay Cutler’s rating during his five seasons with the Bears:
19 TD-12 INT
Off. coordinator: Aaron Kromer
19 TD-14 INT
OC: Mike Tice
13 TD-7 INT
OC: Mike Martz
23 TD-16 INT
OC: Mike Martz
27 TD-26 INT
OC: Ron Turner
Updated: July 28, 2014 10:43PM
BOURBONNAIS — Quarterback Jay Cutler has been called a lot of things in his first eight years in the NFL, but this is a new one: artist.
If his first training camp under coach Marc Trestman was paint-by-numbers — learn the new coaching staff’s plays, formations and strategy — this year’s tour at Olivet Nazarene University has been rooted in the details.
“It’s a next-level thing,” tight end Martellus Bennett said. “Last year was everybody just running the route, getting there.
“But he’s like, ‘Hey, you got this coverage; we can do it this way now,’ instead of just doing what was on the paper last year.
“So we’ve got a little more artistic creativity in the offense.”
There’s an art to problem-solving.
It started with Cutler’s offseason preparation and continues during and after practice, when he practices specific routes with Bennett and the wide receivers.
“It’s obvious in practice that Jay is taking more and more control by the day,” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said Monday. “Not that he didn’t before — he did — but with his comfort level with all of the things we’re trying to get done, he’s able to solve some of his own problems on the field.
“Even when he didn’t maybe have that answer taught to him yet.”
Cutler rated the training-camp offense “good and bad” after four practices — not unusual for July despite having all 11 starters and the entire offensive coaching staff back.
“We’re getting better and better,” Cutler said. “There’s been some sloppy stuff out there. We’ve got to clean it up.
“I think the guys are doing a really good job of just recognizing the plays and getting lined up and knowing the concepts and knowing the checks and everything.
“So if we just clean up some of the little things as we go, we’ll be all right.”
Cutler has a different demeanor this year, Bennett said.
“Usually, he could just easily go through the motions in [individual drills], especially when it’s hot,” he said. “But he’s working on his drops, he’s working on his releases, he’s working on everything, just like every other player on the team.”
Told of the comment, quarterbacks coach Matt Cava-naugh laughed that Bennett “has a different perspective” and said he has never seen Cutler “disengaged” in practice.
“The guy’s a big-time player who probably has got the contract he wanted now,” Cava-naugh said. “That’s not an issue, and he just wants to be the best he can be every day he comes out here.
“And he wants to make the people around him better, too, and that’s what you want in your leader.”
Of course, he can always throw the ball high, where only his starting pass-catchers can catch it.
“It makes it easy,” Cutler said. “We had a few drops on Monday. But you kind of just hang balls up there for those guys, and they can make the play.
“They all do a really good job of finding the ball in the air and knowing when the back-shoulder [throw] is coming.”
As the Bears creep closer to their Aug. 8 preseason opener, Cutler’s reps with the second string — he has taken more with the backups this year than last — will taper off.
The problem-solving, though, will continue.
“He’s seen it all,” Trestman said. “He’s also doing it within the framework of our passing game. He’s able to get guys in the right position, change routes quickly and get the best and most out of every play.
“That’s kind of where he is. He’s kind of fixing it at the line of scrimmage when he needs to get that done.”