The Bears’ efforts to parlay quarterback Jay Cutler’s physical abilities into greater team success extend beyond personnel.
General manager Phil Emery brought in Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall last off-season as Cutler’s go-to target.
This off-season Cutler was presented with another top-flight target in talented tight end Martellus Bennett. The Bears also added Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod and veteran guard Matt Slauson to protect the quarterback.
At minicamp Thursday, for the benefit of Cutler and the other quarterbacks, coach Marc Trestman brought in former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon. In 2002 with the Raiders, Gannon was the league MVP in the 16th of his 18 years in the league — and Trestman was his offensive coordinator.
So the four-time Pro Bowler is ideally suited to address the merits of Trestman, who will call the Bears’ offensive plays.
“The big thing that I would encourage the quarterbacks is just get to know Marc on a personal level; on a professional level,” said Gannon, a commentator on NFL Network and Sirius XM NFL Radio. “Know why he’s calling plays in certain situations and that he’s going to put you in a position to be very successful each week.”
Despite elite arm strength, excellent athleticism and a high football I.Q., Cutler has never posted a passer rating higher than the 88.5 he had as a rookie in 2006. He’s never been above 86.3 in any of his four years with the Bears and has been to the postseason just once in seven seasons.
It’s not for his lack of physical gifts.
“Jay’s a very talented guy,” Gannon said. “I was telling Marc, watching Jay throw the ball, he’s got a lot more talent than I ever had at that position. (But) that relationship between the playcaller and the quarterback is absolutely vital ... to be able to develop some trust.
“That’s really important to be able to trust the guy on the other end, that he’s got your back. And not only that, but that he can trust you, (that) in critical situations you’re going to do the right thing. I think that’s going to be really important in terms of how the Bears start the season and how they finish the season, that relationship between Marc and Jay.”
Cutler is learning his fourth offensive system since joining the Bears. After Thursday’s practice, the last workout before training camp begins late next month, quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh said Cutler is progressing nicely.
“He’s been all in to what we’re doing; to what we’re asking him to do,” Cavanaugh said. “He’s got a lot of talent, I think that showed every day he came out here and competed real hard, bought into what we’re asking and what we’re doing. Each day he’s shown me that he’s more comfortable with what we’re asking him to do, and I’m excited for him.”
After Tuesday’s first minicamp practice, Cutler said it takes three years to completely learn an offense and “it’s hard to go out there in Year One and blow the doors off.”
But his commitment has been what Cavanaugh expected.
“He’s working very hard at it,” Cavanaugh said. “That’s very encouraging and it was expected, quite honestly. We knew we weren’t getting a guy who didn’t want to work hard. He’s out there competing every day and trying to make himself the best he can be and help make his teammates better.”
ŸDefensive tackle Stephen Paea and safety Tom Zbikowski were both excused from Thursday’s practice for personal reasons. ... Rookie cornerback Maurice Jones was waived, leaving the roster at 89, one short of the limit.
ŸFollow Bob’s NFL reports on Twitter @BobLeGere, and check out his Bear Essentials blog at dailyherald.com/sports.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.