Bears

Hoge: It’s Still All About Cutler

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Jay Cutler. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Jay Cutler. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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By Adam Hoge-

(CBS) It’s no coincidence that free agency started with the Bears signing left tackle Jermon Bushrod.

And it’s no coincidence that the Bears also used their first round draft pick on right guard Kyle Long.

And it’s no coincidence that general manager Phil Emery also used his fifth round pick on Jordan Mills and spent more money in free agency on left guard Matt Slauson.

All of that on top of bringing in an offensive minded head coach with a knack for getting more out of veteran quarterbacks who have been inconsistent in their career.

Yes, the offseason was — and the regular season will be — all about Jay Cutler, the man who is playing without a contract beyond this season. He and the Bears have done their best to downplay that notion, but it’s hard to see it any other way.

“I’m just kind of a piece of the puzzle. It takes those 10 other guys to do their jobs for me to do mine,” Cutler said. “That being said, at the quarterback position we do have a lot of pressure, there is a lot of responsibility. I own up to that each and every day.”

To his credit, Cutler has taken on more responsibility since last year’s loss in Green Bay when he pretty much blamed everyone but himself. And now he’s been put in a situation where he can’t afford to go rouge and not commit to what a new coaching staff is asking him to do — if he does that, he’ll be gone.

But let’s be honest, what does he have to complain about now? Emery spent the majority of his offseason creating a perfect environment for Cutler to succeed. If it doesn’t happen now, when will it?

Trestman comes in with a history of success with talented, but somewhat underachieving quarterbacks, including former Oakland Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon, who enjoyed two incredibly successful seasons under Trestman that included an NFL MVP Award.

That track record is not lost on Cutler, who admitted the Bears have watched some tape of Gannon.

“We’ve watched Rich Gannon. He slung it around,” Cutler said. “They had a lot of empty sets, a lot of shifts and motions and quick games. The ball was gone. He was fun to watch. He threw it from about every angle possible. He was very, very successful under Trest and these guys.”

“MVP” and “Jay Cutler” aren’t grouped together in most people’s vocabulary, but there is optimism that Trestman might in fact be the guy to get the most out of the ultra-talented right arm controlled by Cutler’s brain.

“I think this is probably the most comfortable I’ve felt in a new offense,” the quarterback said.

But why should Bears fans believe him now?

That’s where all those offseason acquisitions come in.

“I just want to give him some time and space so he can have success,” Bushrod said. “That’s what it’s about.”

Remember, Bushrod knew what he was getting into when he signed with the Bears. He knew he was joining an offensive line that had struggled to protect an investment that hadn’t paid off yet. He signed anyway.

“I always thought he was a talented quarterback,” Bushrod said. “I didn’t know him. I’d never met him until the day I signed. He was one of the first ones to send me a text so obviously, that shows how good of a guy he is. He welcomed me with open arms. I’m a fan of him.”

No one can blame Cutler for doing that. He finally was given a real left tackle.

But all of that excitement won’t mean much if the revamped offensive line with four new faces doesn’t keep No. 6 upright Sunday against arguably the best front-seven in the NFL.

And that’s where it could all go downhill, complete with all the poor sideline demeanor and explosive blowups.

“I think his demeanor, because he is the quarterback, is critically important,” Trestman said. “I think there’s going to be moments like that, that’s just part of who he is and I’m not going to take that away from him.”

So can the new head coach handle Jay the right way?

“From my standpoint, I don’t think you’re going to see somebody firing back. I’m going to let him wear himself out, get it off his chest, tell him to go back and play the next play. At the end of the day, I know that when a player gets that way, that’s not really who he is.”

Who Jay Cutler really is is still debatable, but this is probably the year we all find out.

It all starts Sunday.

Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.

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