Marc Trestman needs to stop the Jay Cutler star treatment
BY RICK MORRISSEY Twitter: @MorrisseyCST January 16, 2013 10:44AM
Can new Bears coach Marc Trestman get the most out of quarterback Jay Cutler? Bears GM Phil Emery must think so. | AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Geoff Robins
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Updated: January 16, 2013 2:12PM
Phil Emery seemed to list about 100 things a candidate needed to have if he wanted to be the next Bears head 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 hoped 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 surely jumping on the fact the Bears had to go to Montreal to find a head 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 the quarterback as if he’s something special. He is not.
Now, I know Trestman is ridiculously thorough and probably knows, from breaking down tape of PBS’s “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 proven so far in Chicago. Can he become a great player? I don’t know, and if the Bears and Trestman are honest with themselves, they’ll say the same thing. If they watched the playoffs this past weekend, they have to know that Cutler is not 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 past four years, there has rarely 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 the Vanderbilt QB was preparing for the NFL Combine. 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 head 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 has not 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 towards 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 Bears 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, Jay 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.