www.redeyechicago.com/news/ct-spt-0118-bears-pompei-chicago--20130118,0,680555.column

redeyechicago.com

Trestman's task: Succeed with Cutler where others have failed

Bears QB now has authority figure he must embrace or career consequences could be dire

Dan Pompei

On the NFL

9:25 PM CST, January 17, 2013

Advertisement

Sitting there listening to Marc Trestman elucidate at his introductory news conference at Halas Hall, the vision appeared.

Jay Cutler, career year in 2013.

Yes, I saw it. Of that I am certain.

OK, so I've seen purple elephants before. Trestman wasn't coaching those elephants.

This is what Trestman is going to do.

He is going to break down Cutler, take him back to the beginning. Strip all the layers of paint. Sandpaper away the roughness.

Then he is going to build him back up again, one fundamental at a time.

On the first day of training camp, this former quarterback will tell Cutler, "This is a football."

At some point, he also presumably will explain to him what a back-foot throw is.

"The fundamentals and techniques are the most important thing to help our team win," Trestman said. "The quarterback has a big job. He has to protect the ball. He has to live for the next play. He does it a number of different ways. At the snap, in the running game, in the confines of the pocket, locating the ball and outside the pocket."

To most people in this town, that sounds better than "Bear Down, Chicago Bears" after a touchdown bomb.

We've seen this approach with Cutler before. It was taken by Mike Martz, another outstanding quarterbacks coach and offensive mind. Trestman reminds me of him in some ways.

But there are some differences. Trestman is more flexible in his approach. And he is more likely to demand that his protections make his quarterbacks look good as opposed to vice versa.

From where we sit now, we can say Martz and Cutler never were a good match. Martz's system calls for his quarterback get rid of the ball quickly and on time and that he do precisely what the play sent in from the sideline calls for him to do.

That's not Cutler. Or at least it has not been Cutler.

Trestman probably cannot make Cutler something he never has been, but he can minimize his weaknesses and accentuate his strengths.

He can do that by getting in his grill and staying there. Trestman will be hands on. He talked about going "hip-to-hip" with the quarterback and called the coach-quarterback relationship "the No. 1 marriage in all of sports."

Even Cindy Trestman, his beaming better half, could not object from her seat in the first row.

Ostensibly, Trestman is the new head coach/offensive coordinator/play caller/quarterbacks coach of the Bears. Too much on his plate?

It wasn't too much for Mike McCarthy. Or Sean Payton. Or Jon Gruden. Or Mike Holmgren. Or Mike Shanahan. Or Bill Walsh.

They won Super Bowls doing it that way. And in today's NFL, with the increased emphasis on passing offense, there is no better way to do it.

McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers are the model for Trestman and Cutler. That's who they should want to be.

For that to happen, Cutler will have to believe in Trestman the way Rodgers believes in McCarthy.

He will have to listen to him. Trust him. Give in to him. Sacrifice for him. Forgive him.

What was that word Trestman used again?

Marriage.

Trestman and Cutler got together when Cutler was preparing for the 2006 NFL draft. Trestman said they met in a hotel room for the better part of two days and did a lot of staring at each other because they had no receivers for Cutler to throw to.

Neither tried to inflict bodily harm on the other. That was a start.

Then, in the interview process this week, they met again for two hours. Not only was there no bloodshed, but they were so enraptured in conversation that they neglected their lunch.

"I can't wait to get my hands on him," Trestman said.

There are a number of Cutler's former coaches who would like to get their hands on him, too, but in a different way.

One of the questions general manager Phil Emery asked Trestman in the interview process was, "Tell me about a time when the most difficult player you were coaching also was the best player you were coaching?"

Trestman's answer really shouldn't matter to us now, because it's likely to be different in one year.

Trestman will try to build trust with Cutler in part by "giving him the keys to the car," allowing him to audible and take ownership of the offense. Trestman is known as a good listener who willingly takes player input.

But the days of Cutler as the organizational ogre should be over. It should be noted that his handpicked quarterbacks coach cleaned out his office Thursday.

It used to be this was Jay Cutler's world, and the rest of the Bears were just living in it. Now, it's Marc Trestman's world, and Cutler is in the last year of his contract.

Trestman was asked if he saw Cutler as a franchise quarterback, as Emery has said he does. Trestman danced around the question but never vocally concurred.

I liked that.

Cutler is not a franchise quarterback. It's up to Trestman to make him one.

dpompei@tribune.com

Twitter @danpompei