Jay Cutler has more freedom, but he must make good decisions
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter August 6, 2013 9:42PM
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Updated: August 7, 2013 1:42PM
BOURBONNAIS — Coach Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer are challenging quarterback Jay Cutler. It’s as if they want to see the lows more than the highs, as if they want to see his frustrations boil over.
“We’re trying to keep Jay Cutler uncomfortable as we sit here,” Kromer said.
“We threw a ton of stuff at him,” Trestman said.
That included a bunch of new plays in red-zone drills and the use of multiple snap counts. It’s just another indication of how high their expectations are for Cutler.
Not only are the Bears building around Cutler — “We’ve got a better squad on offense,” Cutler said Tuesday — they’re seemingly determined to empower him.
It has been argued that Cutler might be better off if he’s given more control, especially considering some of his success last season came when he had it late in games.
Now that theory is being tested.
When Rich Gannon blossomed into an MVP quarterback in 2002 for the Oakland Raiders, he said Trestman, who was his offensive coordinator, gave him three plays and let him decide which one to use. A similar plan is in the works for Cutler.
“[Trestman is] giving us the limitations on what we can do audible-wise and those type of things,” Cutler said. “Whatever it takes to get us in the best play, that’s his thing. So if we’re in a bad play and we get to a better play, that’s all for the better of the team.”
“I don’t want to make any statements like that,” Trestman said when asked if Cutler performs better with more control.
It’s obvious that Cutler still needs to earn Trestman’s full trust.
“We have such a long way to go,” Trestman said, “and it is a process.”
Quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh said all quarterbacks are better off if you “give them some latitude,” but only “if they know what they’re doing.”
Expectations are that Cutler will be able to assist in the play-calling.
Last season, the Bears used a peculiar play-calling process. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice gave the play to quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who relayed it to Cutler. This year, Cutler will be hearing directly from Trestman.
“We may make a call because we’re expecting something from the defense, and all of the sudden something completely different shows up,” Cavanaugh said. “We would expect [Cutler] to help us … you know, get us out of a bad play and into a good play. We don’t want to waste plays. We say that constantly. He’s going to know the offense good enough to protect us when we don’t have a good play called.”
Does Cutler believe he plays better when given more control?
“Well, if I pick the right things,” he said. “They’re going to give me some options, and if I pick the right plays, it’s usually going to work out in my favor. You’ve just got to take what the defense gives you.”
But work still needs to be done. As good as Cutler has been in recent practices, praise from his coaches only goes so far.
Kromer called Cutler “very smart” and said “he’s moving in the right direction.” Trestman said Cutler hasn’t flinched with all the new plays and concepts they’re installing.
And Cutler is just fine with that.
“I think you try to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Cutler said. “That’s what they want so that the games are easier. The more pressure they put on us, the more uncomfortable they make it in practice, hopefully the easier the games are for us.”