Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jay Cutler Love Fest

Jay Cutler has Chicago football fans optimistic about the upcoming football season, but BBS warns you to never underestimate the stupidity of the man on the right. (Photo Courtesy: Chicago Tribune, Nam Y Huh, Associated Press / July 31, 2009)

The mass media has been absolutely gushing about Jay Cutler recently... and it feels pretty great. All three BBS contibutors went absolutely bonkers when the trade was announced.

Here's some recent articles that have me giddy about the Bear and their new franchise QB this year.

Cutler: Two Minute Drill

Crunch time: Jay Cutler ran the two-minute offense for the first time in training camp, and the result was a long Robbie Gould field goal. Cutler was 3-for-6 on the drive, with completions to tight end Greg Olsen, Brandon Rideau and Earl Bennett.

Cutler might have come up with six points if Bennett had been able to make a spectacular diving catch on Cutler's last throw, but Bennett dropped the pass when he hit the ground.

Lovie's take: Coach Lovie Smith is looking forward to seeing Cutler in a two-minute drill that counts. "He's been in that situation a few times," Smith said. "That's the money part of the game. That's been his track record. He knows how to take us down the field."

Clayton: Cutler more than just a strong arm

Sure, Bears fans are excited about Cutler's arm. It's one of the best in the game. When he snaps off a lightning rod of a pass, they hoot and holler. Whether it's awe or cautious disbelief, Bears fans stand and shout out critiques to the receivers or the thrower when the play doesn't go perfectly. Cutler's arrival has created a fascinating adjustment for a knowledgeable fan base raised on great defense and running the football.

Cutler's arm is only part of the story: His knowledge of the passing game and receiving talent might equal his arm strength. Cutler has a double gift. He knows where his receivers like to have the ball placed on throws. Plus, he can deliver those passes to the right location. For example, Cutler said Devin Hester likes lower throws, but the completions work best when he gets the pass off to him quicker. Because split end Earl Bennett played with Cutler at Vanderbilt, Cutler knows exactly the right places to make the most of Bennett's talents.

Offense optimistic: Bears management clearly values the strength of the receiving corps more than outsiders do, but offensive coordinator Ron Turner is going to play the equivalent of a shell game. One of the Bears' favorite formations is putting tight ends Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark on the outside of Hester and Bennett, effectively turning the tight ends into wideouts and the wideouts into slot receivers. Olsen and Clark combined for 95 catches last season, nine more than the top two wide receivers in the league. The plan is to draw safeties or linebackers on outside coverage, opening up the middle of the field. Offenses with great wide receivers wouldn't have to do such trickery, so this is a sign the Bears may be good but not great at wide receiver.

Urlacher on the Bears:

"I still don't feel like I'm that old," says the 10th-year middle linebacker. "I definitely don't act that old. But we're getting up there and we can't play forever, we know that. The window is probably closing a little bit, but this is the best team we've had since I've been here."

It is pointed out to Urlacher that he says this every year.

"I know I do, but I truly believe it this year," he says. "Position for position, you look at our team and we match up well with everybody. People say we don't have any receivers. We'll see. I think all those guys have something to prove, but I think we stack up well with everybody."

Kreutz on Cutler:

On the practice field later, Kreutz stays after the final horn to work with some of the younger linemen. The longest-tenured Bear, along with Mannelly, at 12 seasons, Kreutz somehow looks younger this summer, more energetic, definitely in a better mood.

This is pointed out to him.

"Any time you have a lineup with the caliber of quarterback Jay [Cutler] is, I'm not knocking anybody I've played with, but I've never had anybody of that caliber, so of course I have a little extra hop in my step," Kreutz confirms.

3rd round pick Jarron Gilbert on Cutler:

"Jay's the first-round draft pick here," Gilbert said with a laugh after Sunday afternoon's training camp practice session at Olivet Nazarene University. "But yes, there's definitely a pressure. I'm the leader of the class, basically, as far as draft picks [go]. I put pressure on myself to come out here and perform."


Gilbert saw considerable action against the Bears' first-string offense Sunday, which meant he went up against Cutler. But as much as he would have liked to have earned some brownie points in getting to the Bears' heralded new quarterback, Gilbert played the good teammate.

"I don't go against Jay; I stay 3 or 4 feet away from him at all times," he said with a laugh, acknowledging he doesn't want to become known as the guy who hurt the new franchise player.

But Gilbert admits to being somewhat in awe of Cutler, happy that he's a teammate, rather than an upcoming opponent Gilbert and the Bears would have to face.

"Just watching him out here, he's a great player," he said. "I've never seen a quarterback like that who can throw the way he does. It's great to see him on the field."

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