Chicago Bears coaches believe they’re seeing excellent progress from Jay Cutler heading into his second season in the new offense. What must he improve?
Trust Marc Trestman but also what he sees
Cutler has not been shy the past few months in his admiration for head coach Marc Trestman. In a short time span the coach’s ability to reform the offensive line and develop a play calling connection has led to early success. The key for 2014 will be in Jay deepening that bond in understanding what Trestman wants on a given play call. However, it will also be up to him to trust what he sees on the field. If a given play doesn’t fit what the defense is showing, Cutler must be willing to change it.
Branch out from Brandon Marshall
A knock on Jay Cutler since 2012 is that he has a bad tendency to favor throwing to Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall over other targets. It’s believed that doing this allows the defense to concentrate in one direction, allowing them to stop drives more easily and force turnovers. Part of a attacking an NFL defense rests in keeping them guessing. The less they know about where the ball is going, the greater advantage the quarterback has. Jay needs to embrace that with the Chicago Bears given the other weapons like Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett he’ll have.
Learn to throw the ball away
This is something fans have clamored for Cutler to do since he got to Chicago. One of the telling traits of him as a quarterback is his propensity to stand tall in the pocket and wait for a receiver to get open. His trust in his legs, his toughness and his strong arm have led to this way of thinking. It’s also led to some unfortunate injuries that have hurt the Bears at the worst possible times. By learning to throw the ball away, Cutler will begin to understand the value of a drive and not a play. Going from 1st and 10 to 2nd and 10 on a throw away is not the end of the world. The quarterback is still healthy. The drive is still alive. Those matter infinitely more than the high-risk proposition of holding the ball.
Patience when playing in big NFL games
By that same token Jay Cutler has to learn to play the game the right way. Always being in attack mode is great, but not to a fault. There are going to be games where the Chicago Bears won’t be able to move the ball regularly. The worst thing in that situation that Jay could do is try to force the action. Too often that kind of recklessness leads to a turnover. In a big NFL game, the team that can stay patient in the moment and wait for their opportunity is going to win. The sooner Cutler understands that, the sooner the Bears will win consistently.