MINNEAPOLIS – It’s been six years and four offensive coordinators since Bears quarterback Jay Cutler last played for former NFL coach Mike Shanahan.
But Cutler’s coach in Denver is far from forgotten.
On Sunday, just minutes after coach Marc Trestman left the podium at TCF Bank Stadium, Cutler offered some support for Shanahan when asked about him after the Bears’ 13-9 loss against the Minnesota Vikings.
A source close to Shanahan said that the longtime Broncos coach has interest in the Bears. Shanahan is from the Chicago area and he drafted Cutler in 2006 and coached him for three seasons.
If the Bears part with Trestman, that feeling may become more than mutual, especially if the plan is to stick with Cutler and hire an experienced NFL head coach.
Cutler said he hasn’t talked to Shanahan recently.
“[Shanahan is] a heck of a coach,” said Cutler, who completed 23 of 36 passes for 172 yards and 75.2 passer rating against the Vikings. “He deserves to be a coach somewhere. He’s out of the game so I’m sure he is looking to coach somewhere.
“My three years with him were very, very enjoyable. He does a great job of leading teams, on and off the field, and offensively he knows how to get it done.”
Cutler said Sunday that he didn’t know if he will return in 2015, but his contract undoubtedly helps his cause. Cutler already is guaranteed $15.5 million for next season and on March 12 it becomes $10 million more for 2016.
It was just last week that Shanahan appeared on ESPN and declared his support for Cutler, who was benched by Trestman last week against the Detroit Lions and was criticized anonymously by offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer to the NFL Network.
“I just know being with him in Denver . . . that [Cutler has] got all the intangibles,” Shanahan said. “Now, can you get that out of him? I really believe in Jay, but he has to make a commitment that he’s going to get better and better. It’s going to be a group decision to get him over the top to where he can be. But he is a franchise-type quarterback.”