When Phil Emery conducted his exhaustive coaching inquest this past January, he was searching far and wide for something he didn’t believe could be had just anywhere. He needed a quarterback whisperer, someone to maximize the talent of an ultra-talented player whose performance the past 4 seasons hasn’t always been indicative of his potential. Of course, this player is Jay Cutler, and though plenty of blame is merited elsewhere for his inconsistency (hello Jerry Angelo, offensive line, Lovie Smith) there are a few things Jay can do to improve his overall game:
Stop throwing off his back foot – - This is Cutler’s fait accompli. He simply can’t help himself sometimes. While many don’t realize this, throwing off your back foot actually suggests that you don’t have the space or the time to step up in the pocket. But having examined every Cutler throw from 2012, it’s safe to say this wasn’t always the case. Jay must utilize perfect fundamentals lest his talented arm go to waste. Last season, far too many passes sailed over open receivers. This habit needs to die a horrid, agonizing death.
Work on lateral passes – - For some reason Jay struggles throwing passes lateral to the line of scrimmage. In a West Coast scheme premised on quick throws, Cutler must ensure he is better at executing bubble screens and drags. Again, mechanics play a huge role.
Be a better leader – - While I submit that Cutler is a better leader than the national media portrays, icing your own coach on Monday Night Football isn’t something to be proud of. Although I don’t blame him for dressing down Jamarcus Webb, this simply can’t happen during the Trestman era because it engenders negativity. Lovie Smith had his virtues, but his laissez-faire attitude probably brought out the worst in his quarterback at times. Not every player responds well to the “soft” approach.
Play better vs. Green Bay – - While the offensive line is chiefly responsible for Jay’s struggles vs. the Packers, he needs to play cleaner football. He simply cannot throw the ball to receivers that aren’t open, as he has done in three games at Lambeau. Jay has actually played much better at Soldier Field vs. Green Bay, having never had a game in which he threw more interceptions than touchdowns. However, he needs carry the team. For the first time in Chicago, Cutler has 3 pieces on offense that are clearly superior to rival Aaron Rodgers’ arsenal – - a dominant wide-receiver (Marshall), a skilled, all-purpose running back (Forte), and a quality left tackle (Bushrod). Sorry, I’m not buying Bulaga on the blind side.
Have faith – - often, particularly late last year, Jay began to give up on certain players (notably Hester and K. Davis). This year, he must trust in the scheme. He will finally have a competent play-caller at his side. He must trust fully in Trestman and Kromer lest he fail to maximize his insane gifts. This is extremely important, as we seldom see Bress, Rodgers, or Peyton Manning clashing with their OC’s.