Bears QB Jay Cutler could use a Tim Tebow template

SHARE Bears QB Jay Cutler could use a Tim Tebow template

Here’s a thought: If Tim Tebow can learn to be an effective NFL quarterback, why can’t our buddy Jay Cutler?

Now, I’m not saying Tebow, last seen playing quality minutes in the league back in 2011, will ever be Tom Brady. But he’s trying to be.

And for our little hypothetical equation, that counts for a lot.

Is Cutler, now in his 10th year in the NFL, with 119 starts under his belt, trying to remake himself into a winning, Super Bowl-caliber QB? We don’t know, since Cutler communicates with the same openness of a trap-door spider, deep in his hole.

But let’s say he is. Now with a new coach and his fifth offensive coordinator in seven years, Cutler has a chance for rebirth. If he wants to be redone. And it’s even possible. It’s not like his career stats are terrible. He has thrown for almost 28,000 yards and 183 touchdowns. Last season, from an angle, looks like it was a dandy.

He threw for 3,812 yards and 28 TDs, with a career-best 66.0 percent completion rate. But he also threw 18 interceptions and lost eight fumbles, and — the most important stat — the Bears finished 5-11. They finished fourth in the NFC North, way behind the Green Bay Packers, again. And the Packers’ superstar quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, isn’t going anywhere.

So Cutler ought to want to improve. He has to improve.

At any rate, here’s what’s up with Tebow, probably most remembered for his college exploits at Florida: Heisman Trophy winner, two-time NCAA national champion (2006 and 2008) and lots of Bible messages on his eye patches. Oh, and there was the famed ‘‘Tebowing,’’ the kneeling in closed-eyes, prayerful motionlessness as teammates and fans swirled around him.

The point is, Tebow can’t really throw. Everybody knows this.

It’s likely the Bears, led by running back Marion Barber’s inability to do something as simple as not run out of bounds and stop the clock in a game against the Denver Broncos in December 2011, extended Tebow’s quarterbacking career by a season or so.

That sad situation in Denver occurred with the Bears leading by three. Barber cluelessly stopped the clock, giving the wild-armed Tebow a rare moment to eke out a come-from-behind overtime win.

So Tebow, out of the game entirely for the last two seasons, has been religiously (oops, wrong word?) training under former major-league pitcher Tom House, learning how to pass a football. House, most famous for catching Hank Aaron’s 715th home-run ball in the Atlanta Braves’ bullpen, runs a complex and difficult program to break down a quarterback’s improper throwing style and build it back up the right way.

Tebow was nothing but wrong.

He threw the ball all with his arm, way to the side, in a windup that was something from a Walt Disney cartoon. His throws were slow to launch and not very accurate, made evident by his 49.7 percent completion rate in two seasons with the Broncos and one with the New York Jets. He was a tight end/fullback behind center.

Now? Well, maybe not perfect. Maybe not even average for the NFL. But at least hopeful. And, yes, he worked his tail off to improve.

‘‘He’s not one-dimensional anymore,’’ House told USA Today, ‘‘so I think he’s done a great job.’’

House says it takes about 1,000 perfect repetitions to even start to change a bad habit, and 10,000 to master the skill.

‘‘He’s got his 10,000 reps,’’ House said. ‘‘Can this guy be an NFL quarterback? Well, our data says yes.’’

Ten thousand perfect throws is a lot. Like a serious lot. Tebow was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles in April, so we’ll see pretty soon if he’s actually reconstructed himself.

As for Cutler, a guy blessed with a rifle arm but cursed by a strange social obliviousness, who knows if he would practice anything 10,000 times just to improve, to try to be the best.

Maybe, at 32, it’s too late for him to reconfigure his football body and mind.

But it’s fun to think he could.

Follow me on Twitter

@ricktelander.

Email: rtelander@suntimes.com

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