Jay Cutler enters his fourth season with the Chicago Bears, a season in which he finally has a No. 1 wide receiver and two solid complimentary receivers to throw to. The arrival of Brandon Marshall from the Miami Dolphins and the draft selection of receiver Alshon Jeffery gives Cutler two dynamic playmakers he hasn't had since Denver.
Marshall's production has been amongst the league's best since he entered the NFL and Jeffery has already started to prove doubters wrong by showing up slim and strong while making plays during OTAs and rookie minicamp. Add in Mike Tice and the quarterbacks coach Cutler had his best season under in Jeremy Bates and 2012 has the makings for a very productive year for Jay Cutler.
The question on everyone's mind, however, is just how productive will Cutler be?
Prior to the thumb injury Cutler suffered at the end of the 10th game of the season, Cutler was averaging a Chicago Bears career-best 231.9 yards per game. That 231.9 YPG average was second in team history, and in 2009 his 229.1 YPG average was third-highest in team history.
Had Cutler kept up his 2011 season pace, he would have finished with 3,710 yards passing to finish the 2011 season. Cutler's production in 2012 figures to be even more remarkable.
Without question this is the year Cutler breaks all of the Bears' single-season passing records. With Marshall and Jeffery to throw to and Earl Bennett making plays out of the slot, Cutler should easily surpass Kramer's Bears team record of 3,838 yards on the season.
In terms of touchdown passes, Cutler could challenge the team record of 28 touchdowns in a season as well. In 2009 he put up 27 touchdown passes, which fell just short of the team record. With three legitimate tall red-zone weapons in the 6'4" Marshall, 6'3" Jeffery and 6'7" tight end Kellen Davis, Cutler will have some size to work with in the red zone.
Even with the departure of Mike Martz and his pass-oriented offense, and yet another change in offensive coordinators, new OC Mike Tice had emphasized that he won't change too much of the terminology in order to make a smooth transition for the returning players (via the Chicago Tribune). Add in Cutler's familiarity with Bates from their time together, along with the Marshall connection, and Cutler should finally achieve elite QB status in the NFL in 2012.
Brett Solesky is editor and publisher of MidwayIllustrated.com a Chicago Bears blog. For more articles about the Bears, including a weekly podcast featuring weekly player interviews and other in-depth information visit my blog.