Aug 23, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) in the huddle before a play against the Oakland Raiders during the first quarter at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

How Jay Cutler Must Improve For the Chicago Bears

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.

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Tags: Brandon Marshall Chicago Bears Jay Cutler Marc Trestman NFL

  • Chad Jensen

    I love gunslingers. Cutler too. Live by the sword, die by…..

    • Erik Lambert

      It’s nice for entertainment purposes, but for winning it’s too reckless.

  • bearisity

    Even when he came back from injury last year he just concentrated on Marshall for the majority of the throws.
    I also agree with the fact that you are right he does have to throw the ball away from time to time. I have only seen him do that a few times. But also he has to get use to having more time to throw. I noticed him forcing some balls last year and his sight was directly on the target he was throwing, from the start of the play to the throw. Defences will pick that up immediately. Again that was after his return

    • Erik Lambert

      Hopefully those were seen by Trestman as well and they’re working on it. Something like that should correct with more time in the offense.

  • Brian

    I completely agree with every point you have made. He does have the arm strength and the overall toughness that people would dream to have, but he knows that and that’s what gets him into trouble. This is also what causes people to hate him. It sickens me that even some so-called bears fans hate him. His eyes are always on Marshall and forcing throws to him is what causes the majority of his picks. His eyes are often on him the whole play. Marshall is a beast and I’m not trying to take and nothing away from him but this offense was built for him and they added another beast opposite of him along with a great tight end too. Unfortunately the majority of success that Jeffrey proved he can bring to the table last year was when Jay was injured because he was McCown’s Marshall. McCown used the whole field. If Jay can learn to scan the whole field instead of looking one way the bears offense can be deadly and he will put up Manning type numbers from last year. I can see double digit tds for Bennett, and Wilson as well and the bears could quite possibly outdo what Denver did last year. He just has to have faith in trestmans scheme along with his talent that fits the scheme so well along with the talent the other players bring to the table. If he remains in his old mentality and thinking Marshall is the only one that can catch, than sadly Jeffrey will go back to making around 700 yards and 6 scores on the season… Trust your line in giving you the time, and trust tour other options on the field Jay… Everybody can play… QB’s would dream to be on the bears right now… We’re built for breaking records as a TEAM… Don’t get reckless and wear out our defense, wear out the other defense and keep them guessing! Great article, thanks for the read!

    • Erik Lambert

      Happy to oblige, Brian. Thanks for reading.

  • trinity

    My faith in Cutler has taken a hit over the years,
    But I still haven’t written him off completely. If he can just cut down on the mistakes and stay healthy, he will do great.

    • Erik Lambert

      That is the same hope I have as well.

  • Otto Von Bismark

    I have a serious question for you guys, no razzing. And for the sake of full disclosure, I’m a Packer’s fan, but this is a serious question.
    I don’t understand Bear’s fans willingness to accept Cutler’s crap. This article talks about Cutler learning and growing in the second year of this new offense. He’s been in the league 8 or 9 years right? When does the “old dog – new tricks” thing kick in? I feel like Urlacher was right at his 1st training camp when he called him a “p****”. I think nationally he is viewed as being talented, but petulant. He’s certainly not viewed as ‘tough’.
    He just doesn’t seem to fit the classic “Bear’s tough” mold. He’s not bold or dynamic. I don’t get why Bear’s fans still support the guy?

    • Erik Lambert

      Let me put it to you this way, Otto. To understand our acceptance of Cutler, look back to what we dealt with in the 80s with Jim McMahon. He did not fit the “tough mold” either. He was hurt all the time and didn’t exactly put up stirring numbers when he was on the field. He was boisterous and often callous towards the media, just like Cutler is. The only reason he’s not seen in the same light as Jay is because he has a Super Bowl ring. We put up with the crap because the Bears are a better team with him on the field.

      As to the offensive question, it’s fair to see it from your point of view as the same old story regarding Cutler and his ability to change. However, it is also fair to point out that Jay has produced at Pro Bowl levels when he has a chance to immerse in a system. He did so in Denver and was starting to under Mike Martz in 2011 before he broke his thumb. We know that player is in there somewhere. It’s just a question of trust in the trends and patience for us.

      • Otto Von Bismark

        I grew up in a house of transplanted Bears fans, so I got to see a lot of ’80s Bears football (a welcome reprieve from the crap the Packers were putting on the field). My recollection of McMahon was him running down field blocking for Payton or scrambling for yards and putting his shoulder into a LB for a 1st down. Cutler feels pressure and he goes down like a Netherlands soccer player.
        There’s no doubt in my mind Cutler has talent. He, in my opinion, lacks leadership. He lacks the burning, self-sacrificing desire to win. He lacks ‘it’ and you don’t get that from more years in an offensive system.

        • bearisity

          Are u kidding me. Check out the win ratio when jay cutler is on the field it wasn’t untill last season he actually lost two in a row. Oh and how about when he went down with a fractured hand. Ya thats right he was trying to stop them from returning a interception for a touchdown. But before u go saying well it was his fault. Johnny Knox had a thing with slipping on the field a lot and that caused the guy covering him to have a easy pick. Also on numerous occasions Urlacher commended Cutler on his toughness many many times. This was behind one of the worst Olines and don’t even get me started on the Mike Tice OC crap.