A better Jay Cutler? Even Jay will have to see it to believe it

SHARE A better Jay Cutler? Even Jay will have to see it to believe it
SHARE A better Jay Cutler? Even Jay will have to see it to believe it

BOURBONNAIS —Even Jay Cutler is dubious about the “new” Jay Cutler.

Through 11 practices in training camp, Cutler has yet to throw an interception in team or 7-on-7 drills. Last year he threw three picks and lost a fumble in the first week alone.

“Camp’s camp,” Cutler said dismissively when asked what he made of the error-free streak in this year’s training camp. “We’re not getting hit. These aren’t live bullets. So we’ll see what happens when we start going.”

It remains to be seen if Cutler’s flawless play in training camp is an indication that in offensive coordinator Adam Gase’s system he’ll be able to avoid the often untimely errors that have plagued him throughout his nine-year NFL career. In similar camp environments he’s been picked with regularity in his Bears career. So compared to previous training camps, zero picks is at least statistically significant. What it means is another question.

“I think it’s a combination of everything,” Cutler said. “Adam [Gase] does an incredible job scheme-wise and putting quarterbacks in the right position.

“But a lot of it goes on the offensive line and the receivers getting open. They’ve all got to do their job and I’ve got to put it in that right spot — and those 10 other guys have done a really good job.”

But as Cutler noted, the games will tell the tale. Maybe when the bullets are live and he’s eligible to be hit, Cutler will lose his comfort zone and revert to his mistake-prone form that has kept him in the middle-of-the-pack of NFL quarterbacks throughout much of his career.

The first “live” sample won’t be a large one. Cutler and the first-team offense figure to get 12-15 snaps in the preseason opener against the Dolphins on Thursday night at Soldier Field. And, per usual, the goals are modest.

“We want to get in and out of the huddle,” Cutler said. “We want to limit our mistakes, our mental errors. We want to get some first downs and move the ball and just kind of attack just like we have been trying to do throughout camp.”

At least the zero-interception thing is something different from previous seasons. Everything else is pretty much the same with Cutler —the comfort level with coaches, the confidence in the up-tempo scheme and inventive play-calling, the positive attitude and the faith in his receivers, running backs and offensive line.

“I think myself, the rest of the quarterbacks and the rest of the offense for that matter really like what we’re doing right now,” Cutler said. “We really enjoy the coaches, being around them. Meetings —there’s a lot of energy from this group. So it’s fun day-in and day-out.”

Cutler gets his share of credit for helping create that environment.

“I just see a change in him — his leadership is a lot better,” tight end Zach Miller said. “He’s been a great leader — great in the locker room. Great in the huddle. [But] he’s a little more vocal. He doesn’t have to be a rah-rah guy, but people respect him for who he is. He has a little more positive influence around the guys and more command of the huddle. Those are things I see. I definitely see improvement. He’s just been good to be around.”

But everybody will believe a better, more efficient Jay Cutler when they see it. Even Cutler is being careful not to set the bar too high.

“I think everyone across the league is excited about their offense and defense at this point and we’re no exception,” he said when asked where this year’s offense will be better than last year’s. “We like where we’re at right now. We like the guys we have out there. It’s just a matter of working with the coaches, working with each other to jell and try to improve.”

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