The numbers say that Jay Cutler's performance is, as coach Marc Trestman would put it, "ascending."
And it should be, given the weapons that have been bestowed upon him, i.e. Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett.
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But Cutler's career-best 89.2 passer rating, 19-12 touchdown-to-interception ratio and improved ability to avoid sacks are not why the Bears lavished what could amount to $126 million on him for the next seven years.
It was more about Cutler's improvement as a teammate and what he did off the field and behind the scenes that convinced Trestman he was the right player to lead the Bears. That commitment impressed Trestman almost immediately.
The coach acknowledged the work Cutler and backup Josh McCown did back in the spring during OTAs in helping smooth and expedite the transition from the previous offensive system.
"When we came in here last January, (the offensive foundation) wasn't in place," Trestman said. "We had to start over, and the credit has to start with the players, particularly our quarterbacks, and the way they took control of the situation.
"I (would) go home at 9 o'clock at night in April and May, and Jay and Josh are in there with an iPad, and they're teaching and walking through the script on their own.
"When meetings are over at 10 p.m. in training camp, and I see our players, our offensive guys, walk over to the gymnasium at 10:15, working to get themselves ready to practice in a competitive environment against an established defense, that says something about what it takes to be as productive as they were at this point one year into it.
"It started with them. It transcended to all our players who unselfishly gave of themselves to do more than they were even asked to by their coaches."
Cutler credits his marriage to Kristin Cavallari and the birth of their son Camden with giving him, at age 30, newfound maturity, patience and leadership, qualities critics would claim he lacked in the past.
"Life experience always help and changes you," he said. "Marrying Kristin has definitely had a very good effect on my life. Having Camden as well has a very good effect. I think you get patience. You realize that, 'Hey, the guys in the locker room are working toward the same goal as I am.' So have some patience with them and work with them.
"Everyone has their own issues. When we get in the locker room, we kind of put that stuff away and try to work for the same goals."
Emery said he had a feeling that Cutler was the franchise quarterback the Bears need to regularly compete for championships after Cutler's performance on the field in the first three games, all victories. He cited Cutler's performance in the fourth quarter (a 102.7 passer rating, No. 8 in the NFL), and his performance on third down (102.6 passer rating, No. 6 in the league).
Cutler will have more to do with the Trestman's and Emery's success than anyone on the roster, and the coach said the quarterback demonstrated throughout the year what he needed to see -- none of which had much to do with arm strength or accuracy.
"My biggest focus was not on his skill set; we all knew the skill set," Trestman said. "My focus was on all the other things, the things that weren't related to football but have everything to do with football.
"The type of person he was, his intelligence level. What was his commitment to the organization? He's been through a lot. Part of what's brought him to this point are the scars of the last five years and the adversity that he's gone through in getting to know himself better over the last five years.
"But what I saw over the last six months was, No. 1, his team elected him captain. I saw selflessness. I certainly saw mental toughness."
It has been a process, and it has been messy at times. But Cutler and the Bears both appear to have arrived at a desirable destination.
"It hasn't always been easy," he said. "We've had some ups and downs. There have been some bad years; there have been some good years. It makes me appreciate the situation and the moment I'm in even more.
"With the offensive weapons that we have, with the type of leadership that we have from the front office, with the coaching staff that we have with their detail and organization, it makes me happy I'm here."