Trestman’s offense hopes to best last year’s success
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter June 17, 2014 9:48PM
Updated: June 17, 2014 10:34PM
Jay Cutler isn’t easily impressed. He doesn’t get carried away.
The Bears’ offense took a quantum leap from 16th in the NFL in points to second in the first year of coach Marc Trestman’s offense. But Cutler isn’t about to set the bar too high too soon for 2014.
“We did OK last year for the first year [of Trestman’s offense],” Cutler said Tuesday at Halas Hall after the first day of the Bears’ mini-camp. “We have the same guys we had last year, which is always good. Talent-wise, it’s hard to top our O-line and some of the guys we have on the outside and Matt Forte, who is hugely underrated.
‘‘Talent-wise and being in the system two years and the way the guys work, all that adds up. Hopefully, we can stay healthy and see where this thing goes.”
Whether he likes it or not, Cutler is at the top of the list of players who need to stay healthy. He was injured twice last season — he missed one game with a torn groin muscle and four games with a high ankle sprain. He started 53 consecutive games in the NFL through 2009, his first year with the Bears. Since then, he has been injured seven times and missed 13 games the last four seasons.
“I was straight until I really got here for a while, and it was a hit parade back there,” Cutler said, referring to poor protection, including 52 sacks in 2010. “It takes its toll from time to time. With the offensive line we’ve got here, the guys are doing everything possible. Last year was last year — kind of two freak injuries. I don’t foresee that happening again.”
If Cutler and the rest of the offense can avoid injuries, the Bears figure to be improved in the second year of Trestman’s offense. They have a pretty solid foundation to build on. The Bears set seven franchise records on offense last year, including net passing yards (4,281), passing touchdowns (32) and passer rating (96.9).
“We weren’t sure what kind of team we were last year — what we did well, what guys felt comfortable doing,” Cutler said. “So looking at what plays we were successful with, some feedback from the players — what they liked, what they didn’t like and just taking a look at what the quarterback room was comfortable with on each play. The coaches have done an excellent job of combing through not only what we do, but everybody across the league and taking some stuff from other teams.”
It all starts with Cutler, whose 89.2 passer rating in 2013 was the highest of his eight-year NFL career.
“I’ve seen incredible progress,” quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh said. “When we got here last year and evaluated him, we had a good conversation about certain things we think every quarterback should do. To his credit, he’s taken every suggestion — everything from how he holds the ball to how he lines up in the gun pre-snap to how he drops back to his throwing base to his follow-up.
‘‘He’s embraced it, and he’s worked real hard at it. It’s night and day.”