When it comes to quarterback Jay Cutler, compliments from coach John Fox have been few and far between. But then came the fist-bump on Tuesday.
With the first practice of mandatory minicamp over and media obligations to fulfill, Fox and Cutler swapped pleasantries in passing with wide grins. Consider it a sign that all is well at the moment as the mercurial quarterback works at winning over his new coach.
“We’re in a performance-based business [and] I understand that and you have to perform,” Fox said. “But leading up to that, there’s a lot that goes into it, and he’s done everything we’ve asked.”
It’s June, and Cutler remains at ease. He was even able to laugh at himself when asked if he’s gotten better at learning new offenses, considering Adam Gase is Cutler’s fifth offensive coordinator in seven seasons with the Bears.
“You’ve got to try to forget the last one as quickly as possible and just wipe the slate clean,” a grinning Cutler said. “Maybe, I’ve gotten better and that over the years, maybe not.
“I feel great about the offense we’re in right now. I know the guys like it. I know the receivers like it. [Tight end Martellus Bennett] is going to love it when he gets involved in it. We just have to keep heading in the direction we are going and keep studying. We are not where we want to be yet.”
Gase and Cutler have a relationship that dates back to Cutler’s draft year, and their communication has intensified during the offseason program.
“I feel a lot better,” Cutler said of his understanding with Gase’s offense. “It’s coming along. It’s not exactly where we want it to be, but we are moving in the right direction. Guys are putting in a lot of time on the field and off the field in meetings. A lot of study time. It’s moving along.”
Cutler, of course, made similar comments two years ago when he was learning coach Marc Trestman’s system and others before it. It’s a story line for a veteran quarterback that continues to repeat itself.
“Obviously, I feel good about Adam Gase’s ability — we hired him,” Fox said. “He’s an outstanding coach. I’ve seen him operate before, as a coach and a play-caller on game day. He’ll help Jay, but you’ve still got to perform.”
The entire Bears’ offense remains under construction. Bennett just rejoined his teammates after skipping the entire voluntary program because of a contract dispute. Receiver Brandon Marshall is gone, and Eddie Royal and Kevin White are in. And the offensive line is full of moving pieces because of injuries.
But it’s still Cutler’s huddle.
“I’m comfortable with these guys,” Cutler said. “I’ve known some of these coaches throughout my career. They’ve had a lot of success in this league and they’re trying to bring it here. I feel good about it, but I think we have a great group of players on the field right now offensively, guys that mesh together. We’re just trying to put it together.”
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