Jay Cutler couldn’t help but smile and make light of his own situation: He’s working with his fifth offensive staff as he enters his seventh season with the Bears.
“Is it five?” Cutler said Tuesday after the first day of voluntary minicamp. “That can’t be good, right?’’
Will this one work?
“[Expletive], I feel like I’ve felt that with a lot of them,” he said.
So it goes for Cutler, who spoke for the first time since Marc Trestman (the coach hired for him) and Phil Emery (the general manager who re-signed him to a seven-year deal with $54 million in guarantees) were fired.
Cutler has the support of general manager Ryan Pace, coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase. But that always wasn’t the case. Even with his virtually untradable contract, Cutler thought he could be heading out the door, too. He had a limited amount of time to win them over.
“You never know how it’s going to be, especially with a new GM, new coaches, a whole different philosophy maybe, a whole different way that they want players to play,” said Cutler, who turns 32 on Wednesday. “Who knows? You never know what’s going to happen.”
Cutler has heard the trade rumblings, too — particularly the never-ending rumor that involves the Tennessee Titans. After all, Pace is looking for the Bears’ next franchise quarterback.
“We’re in Nashville quite a bit, so you hear a lot about it,” Cutler said. “From January to April, there is so much time and there are so many rumors, you can’t keep them straight from one week to another. You’ve just got to avoid it and ignore it, and if it happens, it happens.”
At Halas Hall, Cutler is learning a new offense and working closely with Gase, whom he has known since his days with the Denver Broncos.
“A lot of this stuff, there’s some carry-over,” Cutler said. “He’s got kind of a blend of an offense, so … some of the stuff I know. Some of the stuff is completely foreign.”
Any success that Cutler has in his 10th season will come without his all-time favorite target, Brandon Marshall, who was traded to the New York Jets.
Cutler’s relationship with Marshall featured some friction last season, which Cutler seemed to acknowledge. But he said the Bears didn’t speak to him before making the trade.
“That’s Ryan and Fox and the new staff,” Cutler said. “They evaluated everybody, including myself, and that’s the direction they want to go. [I] love Brandon like a brother. [I’ve] known him for a long time, played with him for a long time. We’ve had our ups and downs and back-and-forths. I wish him the best of luck. I know he’s going to do well there.”
Fox didn’t say much about Cutler on Tuesday, but at the NFL annual meetings last month, he said he saw a quarterback who lacked confidence last season.
And Cutler agreed.
“Yeah, I think everyone was missing confidence,” Cutler said. “When you’re dropping games the way we did, it gets tough. Things went south in a hurry, but at this point, a lot of that stuff is behind us, and we’re just moving forward.”
That’s all he can do for the fifth time with the Bears. He spent much of January and February trying to sort out what went wrong in 2014. It included a brief conversation with Trestman.
“Guys’ livelihoods are at stake — coaches, families are moving,” Cutler said. “There’s a lot going on when people get hired and fired. That gets lost in the shuffle at times. So you think about it.
“But then, once the new stuff starts, that’s all your focus is going to be on.”