INDIANAPOLIS — A year ago at the NFL Scouting Combine, Bears general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox declined to offer much support for Jay Cutler. They needed to be convinced that he was the best answer at quarterback.
Their message this year at the combine was much different. Fox said Wednesday the team feels “a lot better” about Cutler now as opposed to this point in the NFL calendar last year.
“You file things and you put it back there, but you always like to figure it out on your own,” Fox said. “And [Cutler] was probably one of the brightest spots about our first year in Chicago and getting to know our players, which we know a lot better now than we did at this time a year ago.
“So I saw way more about [Cutler’s] mental toughness. I saw way more about how he can absorb an offense and execute it under pressure. I think that speaks volumes for how successful he was on third downs, which is a tough down for a quarterback in the NFL. But I was very, very pleased with what I saw and what we have to work with going forward.”
Cutler turned in the most efficient season season of his career in 2015 under Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase. He finished with a career-best 92.3 passer rating and cut down his interceptions from 18 in the 2014 season to 11.
Cutler also excelled despite a depleted receiving corps. He was without receivers Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal for seven games, Marquess Wilson and tight end Martellus Bennett for five and rookie Kevin White for the entire season.
Cutler’s success played a role in the team’s decision to promote Dowell Loggains to offensive coordinator after Gase left to be the Dolphins’ head coach. Loggains will run a similar offense.
“That was part of it because you know we feel Jay played well last year,” Pace said. “We feel he’s going to play even better next year, and having Dowell in place kind of continues that progression.”
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