By George Ofman-
(CBS) When it comes to Jay Cutler, I’m a skeptic.
I have been since I became aware “pick off” was on his business card. My guess is so are you? I’m skeptical Cutler will achieve his potential. Then again, he might already have. I’m skeptical of anyone who utters the word “elite” in the same sentence with Cutler.
I know – he’s the man with the golden arm. That’s what everyone has said, even his new coach. Marc Trestman is on record saying his throwing ability is as good as anyone he’s coached. He didn’t mention whether that throwing ability was to the opposing team.
Both Cutler and Trestman will be the focus at training camp and for obvious reasons. They are inexorably tied. The head coach believes he will be the man to set Cutler free, and Cutler has already paid homage to Trestman saying, “He really cares about the players in the locker room which is different. Offensively he wants to protect the quarterback.”
Cutler may need protection from his own defense, which revered Lovie Smith. A leader, Cutler is not. This is part of the conundrum that is the Bears quarterback. If Harry Caray was around he might use the same line on him he used to describe Richie Allen. “He’s a $10 million talent with a 10 cent brain!”
I’d like to believe Cutler is smarter than a dime to 10 mil.
The issues run deeper than Cutler’s inability to be a top-10 QB. While I have been a harsh critic, I also realize Cutler has had more offensive coordinators than Kim Kardashian has had suitors. It’s a problem when you have to keep learning a new offensive system. Cutler probably doesn’t have enough shelves at home for all the play books he’s received. His wife may order a rehab of the den.
It’s not as if Cutler and his revamped offensive line will master yet a new plan in 10 minutes. It might take 10 games. It might take longer. Supporters will say Cutler finally has an offensive-minded head coach, who has the desire to refine what has been a stale gameplan. And that Cutler appears to have a much better line to protect him. Detractors will say it won’t matter. Cutler is Cutler and you can’t change the stripes of a zebra.
I need proof and proof won’t come in the preseason. It will come starting in Game 1 when Cutler gets time to throw and decides Brandon Marshall isn’t the only pair of hands he sees. It will come when he doesn’t unnecessarily sling a ball for the sake of it. It will come when he doesn’t throw an interception that makes you cringe if not cry, “WHY THE HELL DID YOU DO THAT?” It will come when he shows respect to his teammates. It will come when HE’S the reason the Bears win, not the defense.
Marc Trestman has quite a task ahead of him. So does Cutler.
George Ofman is a sports anchor and reporter for WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9FM. Look for him on Facebook and find him on Twitter at @georgeofman.