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DITKA: On Jay Cutler, Gale Sayers and Jon Bostic

Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler

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Updated: September 19, 2013 9:43AM

1. After three weeks of training camp and two preseason games, Jay Cutler has not shown much progress in the new offense. When do you begin to panic?

I don’t think you do. He’s your quarterback; he’ll be OK. You know, it’s a new system. The ball has to come out on timing. He has been used to holding the ball a little longer. He’s got to work on getting it out on timing. He has to trust the receivers to be in the spot he wants to throw to. I really do think it will get better.

The running game is going to be OK because they run-block better than they pass-block right now. That can take a little pressure off of Cutler. And they can use some play-action passes. I don’t see a big problem right now. The defense played well, and the special teams looked good. This will be a very solid football team.

2. Let’s say the Bears get three or four games into the season and Cutler is not picking up the offense. If you’re Marc Trestman, do you start looking to bring in someone else?

I really don’t know what he’ll do, I’ll be
honest with you. I would rather be the
optimist. I’d like to think Jay would be fine and the offense would start clicking. They have set their whole season up with the people they have right now, so I don’t think it does you a whole lot of good to start the race and try and change in the middle.

3. Matt Forte and Devin Hester are pretty good in the open field. Who was the greatest open-field runner you ever saw?

Gale Sayers. I played against Hugh McElhenny. I played with and against some truly great players, but Gale Sayers is the best open-field runner I’ve ever seen. If he had a longer career — say, 12 years — no one would have ever broken his records.

Kickoffs and punt returns became a big part of the game when he was back there. We didn’t throw the ball too much to him then. In today’s offense, he would have caught 80, 90, 100 passes coming out of the backfield. That’s how good he was.

I’ve seen a lot of great players. [Walter] Payton . . . there was no one better all around as a runner, blocker, receiver. But Sayers, if you’re talking about making people miss and cutting back, nobody was ever better than him.

4. Have the Bears found another great middle linebacker in Jon Bostic?

That was a great hit. That kid lit him up pretty good. But I think it’s too early to tell. You know, when you talk about [Dick] Butkus, [Mike] Singletary, [Brian] Urlacher and Bill George, you have three of them in the Hall of Fame, and Urlacher will probably be there, too. The Bears have a succession of linebackers going way back. But this kid knows the difference between ‘‘come here’’ and ‘‘sic ’em.’’

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