Jay Cutler becoming a great quarterback is a possibility the way world peace is a possibility. It’s a noble concept.
Please don’t take that as a criticism of Cutler. As much as I hate the phrase, it fits perfectly here: He is what he is. He’s never going to be an elite quarterback, even though the team paid him like one when he signed that seven-year, $126 million contract in 2014. It’s a measure of his career in Chicago (and of some of the zealots who follow the team) that one decent season (2015) has made people forget his previous struggles and believe it’s a given he’ll play well in 2016.
At a panel discussion the other day, my pal Rick Telander mentioned that Cutler is on his sixth offensive coordinator as he heads into his eighth season with the Bears. How, he wanted to know, could a quarterback find any kind of rhythm having so many different coaches and offenses? I almost spit out my water. Cutler as an innocent bystander? Only if you believe Henry VIII had bad luck with women.
No, Cutler had a hand in some of those departures with his maddening play. Now he has a new coordinator in Dowell Loggains, who took the place of Adam Gase, now the Dolphins head coach. That’s what helping Cutler to his best statistical season in Chicago will get you: an NFL head-coaching job.
The good news is that Loggains coached Bears quarterbacks last season and is expected to run an offense similar to Gase’s. The bad news is that running back Matt Forte, one of Cutler’s favorite passing targets, is gone. Or maybe that’s the good news. The Bears insist they’re going to pound the ball this season, with Jeremy Langford getting the first shot at running back. That has been John Fox’s approach as a head coach, and it makes perfect sense for this season. Run the ball, have Cutler make the smart pass when necessary and let an improved defense win games for you.
Can he stifle his inner Jayness two seasons in a row? He doesn’t have to be great, just good enough. It’s doable. Now, will there be an offensive line to protect him?