No use denying it: He's special

 
 
Published8/22/2009 11:41 PM

The Bears' trade for Jay Cutler in the spring was so exciting that there figured to be a letdown by, say, the second preseason game.

Instead, Saturday night in Soldier Field against the Giants was even more exciting.

 

"It was good to see him take another step," Bears head coach Lovie Smith said of Cutler.

First of all, let's not get carried away and remember that the Bears' 17-3 victory came in an exhibition game.

It would be silly to proclaim Cutler a god. He's bigger than that: YES, FOLKS, HE'S MICHEAL FREAKIN' JORDAN 25 FREAKIN' YEARS AGO!!!!!

Uh-oh, there I go getting carried away.

Anyway, Jordan came to the Bulls and I recall feeling compelled to write about him every time he stepped on the court for a game or practice.

Jordan was the rare athlete you'd take note of doing nothing more than sneezing, belching, smiling, slapping hands with a teammate or chatting with an opponent.

Sure it's blasphemous to mention any athlete in the same sentence with Jordan, but isn't Cutler the first to arouse as much anticipation around here?

Right now it's mostly football stuff filling the old notepad. Not a single note on how Cutler adjusted his cup.

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But, man, there are pages on how Cutler throws a football, and not just in comparison to Bears predecessors Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman, Gary Huff and Bob Avellini, even Jim McMahon and Jim Harbaugh.

Cutler dared suggest while with the Broncos that he has a better arm than John Elway had and he appeared correct while buzzing his first pass between two Giants defenders for a 27-yard gain.

Oops, I just mentioned Cutler and Elway in the same sentence, which would be blasphemous in Denver. Regardless, Cutler's arm really is almost too good because it tempts him to force the ball into coverage for interceptions.

Against the Giants, he zipped passes flat-footed, off his back foot and across his body but without a single one being picked off.

"Of course everybody knows about Jay's arm," Smith said. "We're banking on him being able to make plays like that."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It's more than the throws, though. Cutler demonstrated an inclination to do a few other things that few Bears quarterbacks were accustomed to even attempt.

Like, Cutler executed a couple planned rollouts. He improvised a pass after being flushed from the pocket. He scrambled up the middle for 12 yards.

"He's an athlete," Smith said.

Statistics aren't a big deal in August, but for the record Cutler hit 8 of 13 passes for 121 yards and 1 touchdown.

The numbers will fluctuate but the athletic gifts will persist: The NFL size, the mobility and that remarkable arm.

Those world-class attributes alone won't translate into a Hall of Fame career and Super Bowl victories.

The scouting report indicates that Cutler still must prove he can play well with others, be a leader of men, rise to the big moment, guide a team into the playoffs and overall become a winner, much less a champion.

But that arm and those legs - I'll take my chances with those after decades of watching Bears quarterbacks try to grind along on grit and guts.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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