Bears won't be forced into Cutler decision
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Conventional wisdom suggests that Phil Emery doesn't have much choice, that the Bears' GM is in a corner being posted up by Jay Cutler and the QB's next contract.
But conventional wisdom ain't what it used to be.
If Emery has proved nothing else in his 18 months with the Bears, it's that he won't be forced into anything.
In fact, he was hired by a man in George McCaskey who has also displayed an aversion to the norm, dumping Jerry Angelo and deciding on the unproven Emery when the easy choice would have been to keep Angelo through the final two years of his deal.
Since then, Emery has made two very strange first-round selections that almost no sane person expected, and he's also fired Lovie Smith after a 10-win season.
It was, of course, the right decision, with Smith having won precisely three playoff games in nine years. Jim Harbaugh has that many in his first two years in the league.
On top of that, Emery decided on Marc Trestman, another interesting choice that no other NFL team had been willing to make. It's proof enough that Emery is his own man and will do what he thinks is best once he figures out what that is.
And when it comes to Cutler, Emery has obviously not made up his mind.
He arrived here already knowing of Cutler's physical ability, which is among the elite in the NFL, but nothing he's seen so far has convinced Emery that Cutler has the attributes of a consistent winner.
Not all of it is Cutler's fault, as we know. He's had terrible receivers, protection, play-calling and coaching turnover for much of his time here, but there are quarterbacks who find a way to make the best of a bad situation.
Cutler, on the other hand, tends to make a bad situation worse.
Now, Cutler seems to have the best of it all. He's got a head coach who believes offense is actually played in this league, and Trestman is heavily invested in the Cutler project.
Cutler has the makings of a competent offensive line and better receivers than at any point since he was traded to the Bears — especially since he won't have to break the huddle and watch Devin Hester wander aimlessly until Cutler directs him to the correct mark.
Still, it makes sense that Trestman needs time to evaluate Cutler, and Emery is more than willing to give his head coach a chance to decide on the best quarterback to take them forward.
So it's yet another offensive scheme, coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Cutler, but this time it's the head coach who is — for all intents and purposes — filling all those roles as he attempts to make Cutler one of the best QBs in football.
You can't teach the physical tools Cutler possesses, but Trestman has his work cut out for him convincing Cutler he needs the rest of the package if he wants to be great.
He can start by reminding Cutler that he has a single postseason victory during his seven years in the NFL.
Much of that is because of what the Bears surrounded him with, but much of it is due to Cutler's inconsistency, poor fundamentals, petulance, lack of leadership and unwillingness to work and play well with others.
There is more to the position than throwing the football, and it's up to Trestman to show Cutler the way. If he can't, this may very well be Cutler's last year in Chicago, and it's entirely up to him to erase those doubts.
If he doesn't, Cutler will be just fine. There will be a long list of teams waiting in line to pay him franchise money for many years.
If the Bears see a transformation, all the better. If they don't, they need only look to 2012 when the draft produced Pro Bowl rookies Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson.
In a perfect world, Cutler finally becomes the complete QB the Bears have needed for so very long, and if the Bears see it developing, they could make Cutler a very wealthy man or simply tag him next season.
If not, don't believe for a moment that Emery will feel backed into a corner.
This general manager has already shown that he believes in finding his own way out.
•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.
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