This much I’m certain of: Jay Cutler needs a coach, not a coddler. He needs someone who will help him become the player he has the ability to be, not nurse his ego by telling him he’s already there while fanning the flames of the “Excuse Express”—a freight train already running wildly out of control down the tracks.
But Marc Trestman doesn’t strike me as the type of man to gush over wasted talent. In fact, he refused to do just that during his inaugural press conference. And after all, isn’t that what Jay Cutler has been these last four years in Chicago—wasted talent? You may not like the negative connotation, but what else is there?
For one reason or another, Cutler has been handed every excuse in the book by his constant defenders and raked over every set of coals by his constant detractors. None of it is 100% fair, and none of it is 100% inaccurate. But regardless of which side you’re on (perhaps you stand on neutral ground), the thing that most seem to agree on is that the Bears’ QB has always had impressive potential.
That potential, however, has never been realized—at least not consistently. The reason for it? Take your pick. It’s either Cutler’s attitude, a lack of offensive weapons, bad pass protection, bad offensive coordinators, an offensively inept head coach or … all of the above.
No matter which answer you tend put the most stock in, Marc Trestman is now tasked with turning things around, and he doesn’t seem interested in pandering to you, me or Jay Cutler. When asked to label Cutler as a “franchise QB,” Trestman wouldn’t do it.
“Jay Cutler is a guy who loves football,” Trestman told the media from Halas Hall. “Jay Cutler is a guy who’s willing to learn. That’s where we’re going to start. We’re going to work one day at a time in a proactive way with a sense of urgency to get him to be the guy that he wants to be and we want him to be.”
The guy he wants to be, not the guy he is.
And despite Phil Emery’s glowing appraisal of the QB, Trestman talked about making him a more efficient passer than he’s been thus far. “The quarterback in this league has got to play at an efficient level,” Trestman said. “It’s our job as coaches to get him to do that.
“He has shown moments of efficiency, thereby we ought to be able to find the mechanisms to make him more efficient on a play-by-play basis.”
With Cutler now learning his fifth system in six seasons, the hope is that with a second-year general manager and a first-year head coach, the Bears’ offense will have the latitude it will take to build consistent success. And for what it’s worth, that system will share similarities with the one Cutler ran in Denver—the only season he was named to the Pro Bowl.
“It’s hard,” Cutler told the Bears’ official website. “You start back at zero every year with the entire offense, so it’s definitely challenging. I think if you look across the league at elite and very good quarterbacks, they’ve all been in systems for numerous years.
“That’s what our goal is here; for coach Trestman to come in and install his system and us win games and keep him around for a long time to be able to grow year-in and year-out in this system and get everyone better. He’s been successful wherever he’s been.
“He’s from the West Coast coaching tree, which I’m familiar with. It's what I came into the league with with Shanahan, so I’m looking forward to it.”
The relationship between Cuter and Tretsman is expected to be an intense one, and the future of the Bears’ offense will run through those two guys. The coach-player marriage, something Trestman also talked about, is seen in most teams with consistent success in the NFL. Think Brady-Belichick, Rodgers-McCarthy.
Could Cutler-Trestman be the next dynamic player-coach duo? That’s the million-dollar question now, isn’t it? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my doubts, but my hope is that regardless of how it all turns out we will eventually be able to put most of the excuses to rest.