Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has plenty of critics. Recently he was named the fourth-most disliked athlete in America according to Forbes Magazine. Whether the critique is fair or not, Cutler needs to have a big 2013 season to right the ship and Marc Trestman has to be his biggest catalyst.
Trestman comes to the Bears from the CFL and is a first-time head coach in the NFL, but he has had success at this level. He was the offensive coordinator in San Francisco when the team clinched its division in back to back seasons in 1995 and 1996.
Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young was with Trestman during that time. He led the league in completion percentage during those years. "He'll emerge as a much more disciplined quarterback," said Young of Cutler. "He's already good and he'll be great."
In 2002, Trestman was the offensive coordinator in Oakland where his team led the NFL in offense with 389.8 yards per game and passing yards with 279.7 per game. Quarterback Rich Gannon was named the league MVP that season and the team lost in the Super Bowl to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Gannon believes Trestman can help Cutler the most in his fundamentals. "If you ask me if there’s one thing Chicago needs, it’s someone to get Jay Cutler back on track. If you look at Cutler's footwork and ballhandling, he has major issues. Some fundamental things have slipped by the wayside because he hasn’t been coached properly. Marc could come in there and get him straightened out.”
Cutler had his best season in 2008 when he was named to the Pro Bowl. Under offensive guru Mike Shanahan, Cutler threw for over 4,500 yards while completing 62.3 percent of his passes. Cutler threw a career-high 616 passes while most importantly only being sacked 11 times.
When you look into Trestman's past, you see he did wonders with some pretty average quarterbacks. In 1997 he was the quarterbacks coach when Scott Mitchell passed for 3,484 yards, fourth-most in team history.
In 1998 Jake Plummer threw for 3,737 yards and led the Arizona Cardinals to a playoff berth all while Trestman was the quarterbacks coach.
Rich Gannon was a journeyman quarterback who went to his first two Pro Bowls at the ages of 34 and 35 but undeniably had his best success under Trestman when he was 36 and 37. Ironically, that 2002 season was the last time Gannon played a full NFL season.
Marc Trestman's greatest asset to Jay Cutler is attention. Trestman has this uncanny ability to immerse himself with a quarterback and tailor an offense around him. Trestman will use Cutler's strengths and find a way to protect him like a Faberge Egg.
Expect Cutler to throw the football but unlike any way you have seen him do it in a Bears jersey. Three step drops, roll outs, quick and precise timing routes will be the focus. In 2002, Gannon completed nearly 70 percent of his passes because the team focused on short routes and let its receivers run after the catch.
It will come down to the basics with Cutler. Getting rid of the football instead of taking a sack is big. Not consistently throwing off his back foot is something Cutler is going to have to be accustomed to.
Marc Trestman is an offensive professor. If Jay Cutler is willing to work hard in class, then he will reap the benefits and ultimately silence the critics who revel in his failure.