One name. One Pro Bowl quarterback. One playbook.
Cutler solidified himself as a premier quarterback in the league last season as the Denver Broncos' top gun. The former Vanderbilt star threw 25 touchdowns along with slinging for 4,526 yards.
Should Bear fans expect the same numbers? We all know that Chicago loves to win by getting off the bus running and playing great defense. According to Bears head coach Lovie Smith, look for his squad not to run away from that from that logic.
“We have a lot of trust and faith in what Jay will do,” Smith said in a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune. “I know he's an all-pro quarterback and we are going through uncharted waters a little bit. But we aren't going to change what we are... We will just expect to do what we believe in better.”
Instead of going to a formula that would resemble other AFC West teams, expect "balance" to be the key word and focus of the new offensive playbook.
If running back Matt Forte was able to amass 1,231 yards and eight touchdowns with Kyle Orton's questionable deep ball-throwing ability, look for Forte to have the exact opposite meaning of a sophomore slump. The Louisiana native saw a ton of eight-man fronts last year.
With Cutler at the helm, expect teams to not stack the box nearly as much in 2009. In addition, Cutler should benefit greatly from having the threat of the running game. It should open up more one-on-one opportunities for the receivers.
Speaking of receivers, the corps of Devin Hester and company should be much more productive under offensive coordinator Ron Turner's "Cutler new and improved playbook." Last season, Hester was only able to catch 52 balls for 665 yards along with three touchdowns. Turner did his best to get Hester involved in every way. Whether it was implementing the ever-popular Wildcat formation, running a deep go route or a quick screen, Hester was everywhere.
Look for him to be the same this year, as well. This is especially the case with the number of question marks at receiver.
One sure thing is the ability of the tight ends. The Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark dynamic duo proved to be very successful with Orton at quarterback. Olsen was the more productive one, catching five touchdowns while notching 54 catches for 574 yards. The 6-6, 254-pounder was huge matchup problem for the foes' secondary with his ability to spread the field like a wideout. Turner will not forget this element in regards to the playbook.
So, as it turns out, the new playbook should be a lot more explosive while sticking to the same Chicago Bears philosophy we've seen for decades. Only this time around, a true franchise quarterback is throwing the pigskin.
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