Bears' Cutler likes problem of so many options
BOURBONNAIS -- Quarterback Jay Cutler has more dangerous weapons at his disposal this year than at any time since he joined the Bears in 2009.
But with more options come more decisions.
One of the developments worth watching this season will be how the quarterback distributes the ball among several talented players, all of whom want it as often as they can get it.
The offense is improved over a year ago, even though that wasn't evident during a Tuesday practice in which Cutler was picked off four times.
"I thought (general manager) Phil (Emery) did a great job of improving the offensive line and getting us one of the best tight ends in the league right now in Martellus (Bennett), with his ability to catch passes and his ability to block," Cutler said.
"And (we added guard) Kyle Long in the draft, so we're making concerted efforts to improve the offensive side of the ball. We've got a better squad on offense. We've just got to go out and perform now."
Bennett joins a cast that added four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall a year earlier.
In addition, Pro Bowl running back in Matt Forte is an excellent pass catcher, and young wide receiver Alshon Jeffery shows nearly every day in practice that he is capable of becoming a major force in the passing game.
Veteran Earl Bennett adds reliable depth, and a role eventually might be carved out for still-dangerous deep threat Devin Hester.
For Cutler, the guy distributing the ball, the dilemma is this: How does he keep everyone happy.
"Very delicately," he said, smiling.
It was difficult to tell whether Cutler's smile was genuine, as he imagined how many different ways he will be able to attack defenses this year. Or whether it was ironic, as he contemplated four guys coming back to the huddle and chirping that they were wide open on the previous play.
"Those guys are good," Cutler said. "They understand why we run certain plays and they're not going to get the ball at certain times, but they've got to help out their buddy to get him open.
"I think we've done a really good job of spreading it around and making sure that Marty gets balls, B gets the ball, Alshon, Matt Forte, and I think we've tried to give certain guys days off, so we can spread it around and keep everyone happy."
If the glut of talent is a problem, it's one Cutler doesn't mind having.
"I'll take that every day of the week," he said. "I can handle that."
Head coach Marc Trestman said the offense is designed to get the ball to whoever is open, without prejudice. Forcing it to any individual defeats the purpose and conflicts the quarterback.
"With any quarterback, the toughest thing to do is to go outside the system to try to please somebody or get the ball to a certain person," Trestman said. "I really feel like (Cutler) sees what we're trying to get done here and make everybody a part of it, to make it easier for him to just read a defense and go to the guys who are open."
It remains a work in progress.
"That'll be a process," Trestman said. "We haven't reached our potential, certainly. We're just trying to do it every day, and we see signs that we can get it done, and we're excited about it.
"But then we've just got to go back to work the next day and keep grinding away."
Trestman preaches the concept of everyone having value in the grand scheme of the offense. He doesn't entertain the notion of players demanding the football or having personal expectations.
"I don't think about those things," he said. "I don't get concerned or worried. I try to eliminate those types of thoughts. When we install a game plan, we want guys to know we believe in them, (and) they're part of it.
"But who knows what's going to happen on game day? The thought process is to make sure everybody knows they're an important aspect of the play. Whether they're the primary (receiver) or not, they certainly can get the ball."
Forte, who caught a career-low 44 passes last season but averaged 56 grabs in his first four seasons, should be more involved as a receiver this year. He doesn't see why anyone would become disenchanted with their role.
"As long as they're getting a check, they should be happy," Forte said, only half in jest. "We really don't have big egos like that on this offense, like 'I need to get the ball,' and guys getting mad about stuff like that.
"As long as we're executing plays, scoring touchdowns and we're winning games, then you shouldn't be mad about that."
He's right. As long as all that happens, it will be one big, happy family.
If it doesn't, who knows?
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