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updated: 2/15/2013 9:14 PM

Bears' Cavanaugh eager to work with Cutler

Cavanaugh eager to work with Cutler in return to Bears

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  • Matt Cavanaugh was quarterbacks coach with the New York Jets from 2009-12.

      Matt Cavanaugh was quarterbacks coach with the New York Jets from 2009-12.
    Associated Press file photo

 
 

It has been 15 years and 20 quarterbacks since Matt Cavanaugh's first tour of duty as a Bears coach.

In 1997 and '98, the former NFL quarterback was Dave Wannstedt's offensive coordinator, and on Jan. 18 he was hired as Marc Trestman's quarterbacks coach.

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A lot has changed.

"Hopefully I'm smarter," Cavanaugh said. "Every year you think you know it all, then you find out when the year's over, you don't know anything.

"It was my first coordinator job. I learned a lot. I've been part of teams where we won a lot of games and part of teams where we lost a lot of games. You better learn something from each experience, and I think I have."

In Cavanaugh's two years in Chicago the Bears went 8-20. Since then he has been with teams that had much more success, as offensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2004 and as quarterbacks coach with the New York Jets from 2009-12.

The year before his first gig with the Bears, Cavanaugh was the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback coach when Trestman was the offensive coordinator, the only season they worked together.

But over the past 17 years they remained close enough for Trestman to hire Cavanaugh two days after he became the 13th head coach in Bears history.

"We stayed in touch quite a bit," Cavanaugh said. "We'd run into each other in the off-seasons, we'd see each other at the combines and Senior Bowls and talk every once in a while on the phone.

"His first couple years up in Montreal I was in touch with him, and then the last year or two it probably slid a little bit. But I was happy when he reached out, and I'm thrilled to have an opportunity to work with him again here in Chicago."

In the late 1990s, Cavanaugh directed Bears offenses that employed quarterbacks Erik Kramer, Rick Mirer, Steve Stenstrom and Moses Moreno.

At least for the near future, Jay Cutler is entrenched behind center, and Cavanaugh can't wait to coach him.

He will share that task with quarterback guru Trestman, and their work with Cutler could be the single most important factor in their success or failure.

"Arm talent, athletic ability and football smarts," Cavanaugh said when asked what it is about Cutler that excites him.

"Whenever you're evaluating a quarterback, you want him to have those kind of abilities, and he's got that," Cavanaugh said. "And I'm excited to get back with Marc. Our job is to get (Cutler) to play consistently every week."

Inconsistency has been a big knock on Cutler, along with sloppy mechanics, but Cavanaugh isn't rushing to criticize his prize pupil after just a brief conversation.

"Marc and I are going to both work together with the quarterbacks," he said. "I know you want to know a lot of details about what we think of him. (But) let us meet him first. Let us work with him. Let us evaluate him. And we'll get back to you. How's that?

"I want to see him up close. I want to be able to talk to him. I want to be able to work with him. I think he's got a ton of talent, and I know you can win a lot of games with him."

By the way, those 20 quarterbacks who have played for the Bears since Cavanaugh left?

Shane Matthews, Cade McNown, Jim Miller, Mark Hartsell, Chris Chandler, Henry Burris, Cory Sauter, Kordell Stewart, Rex Grossman, Chad Hutchinson, Craig Krenzel, Jonathan Quinn, Kyle Orton, Jeff Blake, Brian Griese, Cutler, Caleb Hanie, Todd Collins, Josh McCown and Jason Campbell.

rlegere@dailyherald.com

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