Jay Cutler has one of the strongest arms in the NFL and when he unleashes a ball on target, it's a thing of beauty. But for a player so physically gifted, Cutler has too often wasted those gifts with awful footwork, ignorant throws into double coverage, and a loose handle on the football.
Bears quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh has worked closely with Cutler this offseason to help him clean up those errors in order to make him a better quarterback. So far, Cavanaugh says Cutler has really taken to the tutelage.
"I've seen incredible progress," Cavanaugh said last week about Cutler "When we got in here last year and evaluated him we had a real good conversation with him about certain things that every quarterback should do. We said, 'Jay, it might not be natural, but we want you to try it.' And he did.
"To his credit, he's taken every suggestion we've given and he's embraced it. From how he holds the ball, to how he lines up in the [shotgun] pre-snap, to how he drops back, to his throwing base, to his follow-through. Every little fundamental we've talked to him about, he's embraced, and it's like night and day."
I remember writing about Michael Vick before last season and how he said that Chip Kelly had taught him to hold a football properly. After 10 years in the league, someone had finally taught Vick one of the most basic aspects of being a football player: protect the football.
And then Vick fumbled four times in six starts. That can be seen as an improvement compared to previous seasons, but it was still not good.
I'm similarly skeptical that Cavanaugh will be the magic man to solve all of Cutler's well-known flaws. He's had them forever, and he's an NFL starter for seven years. But no, NOW someone is going to finally fix him. Whew.
Boden writes that Cutler didn't fully buy into lessons on fundamentals from previous Bears offensive coordinators and quarterback coaches because of the amount of turnover on the team's coaching staff during his first four seasons in Chicago. Boden insinuates that the belief just wasn't there between player and coach. Now that Cavanaugh, head coach Mark Trestman, and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer are entering their second season with Cutler, he supposedly has more trust in what they're telling him. I didn't realize Cutler was so fragile.
Oh, wait. That's right, he's not. Cutler is supremely confident in his abilities -- sometimes too confident, which leads to those bad throws. He's 31 years old. If he really wanted to cure what ailed him professionally, he would have put in the time and commitment needed to do it. Maybe this year is different because is working under a huge, new contract? Beats me.
That said, Cutler has high-end QB1 potential this season if he stays healthy because he is in a QB-friendly system and surrounded by receivers who create mismatches all over the field. But Jay Cutler is going to continue to do Jay Cutler things. He will still have those moments that make you ask your TV, "What the [redacted] was that?" I don't think that will ever change.