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updated: 8/6/2013 11:18 PM

Can Bears' Cutler be molded into a winner?

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  • Bears quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh talks with quarterback Jay Cutler during a training-camp workout.

    Bears quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh talks with quarterback Jay Cutler during a training-camp workout.
    Associated Press


This seems like a good time for an update on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler's progress at training camp.

Uh-oh, he threw 4 interceptions in practice Tuesday.

They mean nothing, of course. The Bears haven't even played a preseason game yet and the season opener is still a month away. Or as Cutler put it, "It's camp."

Yet so much of the Bears' fortunes depend on Cutler and new head coach Marc Trestman that every burp and belch in their relationship will be big news.

Call the coach-quarterback dynamic in the NFL what you want: Mentor-protégé … teacher-pupil … sculptor-clay … painter-canvas … guru-guppy.

Yeah, that's it, guru-guppy. Trestman is the guru and Cutler is the guppy. But it works only if the moody QB is comfortable with that odd characterization.

As a Bear the past four seasons, well, let's just say that Cutler has gone through mentor Ron Turner, sculptor Mike Martz and whatever Mike Tice was.

Now the Bears have Trestman shaping everything that has anything to do with offense, so can he shape Cutler?

The process isn't as simple as it might appear. Sometimes the quarterback has too strong an arm, too much mobility and too preferable a height and weight. It isn't unusual for him to have been so proficient on tools alone that he finds it difficult to do what someone else suggests on fundamentals.

Who does that sound like?

Anyway, for me this overall theory goes back to when Mike White coached Illinois in the 1980s. He had terrific offenses with junior-college transfers like Dave Wilson and Tony Eason, both of whom developed into first-round NFL draft choices.

Not that White or any other coach would have turned down a No. 1 overall pick like John Elway, Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck. But often it's lesser-rated QBs who enable a coach to mold them into precisely what he wants them to be.

The key is to have a quarterback who doesn't believe he knows more than the coach knows.

Who is the best football coach in history? Many, if not most, would say Vince Lombardi, who won the first two Super Bowls.

The quarterback of Green Bay's dynasty was Bart Starr, a 17th-round draft choice who was undistinguished until Lombardi arrived.

Now jump to the NFL's currently acknowledged best coach, Bill Belichick, and to Tom Brady, his all-everything quarterback.

Brady was a sixth-round choice in a seven-round draft. Belichick saw something in him, moved from defense meetings to offense meetings to get his hands on him and won three Super Bowls with him.

In between Lombardi and Belichick were Super Bowl winners Bill Walsh with third-round pick Joe Montana; Joe Gibbs with Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien; Bill Parcells with Phil Simms from Morehead State and Jeff Hostetler off the bench; and Mike Holmgren with Brett Favre, a second-rounder traded by the Falcons.

These great minds took these somewhat flawed and/or previously failed quarterbacks and together they won championships.

Now we have Marc Trestman, who as an assistant coach helped the Raiders get to a Super Bowl and journeyman Rich Gannon get to be a league MVP.

We also have Jay Cutler, who combines remarkable athletic qualities with a reputation as an offensive-coordinator killer.

If Cutler is stubborn and becomes resistant to Trestman, the Bears' season will implode and they'll have a new quarterback next year.

But anything is possible if the guppy takes to the guru's coaching.

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