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Sports

New coach, same old Cutler

Bears coach Marc Trestman has spoken highly of quarterback Jay Cutler since taking over the team.

Some of the good things Trestman has said: "He's a bright football guy," "He's great to work with" and "Jay understands this offense."

My question is, does he really understand it? While Cutler has said time and again that everyone on the team has "bought into" Trestman's offense, one can question if he is an exception. For example, in the second preseason game, against San Diego, all five of Cutler's passes were intended for Brandon Marshall.

Against Carolina the week before, with Marshall out of the lineup, Cutler focused on Alshon Jeffery. And as we head into Week 3 of the preseason, Cutler has yet to throw a pass to $20 million tight end Martellus Bennett.

Outside of Marshall, Cutler has thrown to only five different receivers. He has also continued old habits of holding onto the ball for too long, forcing throws (which have led to turnovers) and taking unnecessary sacks. Not everything is the offensive line's fault.

This is a stark contrast from the Cutler repoters see in practice. It is in that atmosphere that the former Vanderbilt standout embodies the qualities of Trestman's West Coast offense.

He throws the ball with a quick and urgent release, he spreads the wealth to different receivers, he makes wise decisions and looks like a more efficient quarterback. Now the challenge is translating that to game day.

With Cutler in the final year of his contract, he has no excuses. The time is now for him to prove he is an "elite" quarterback. The Bears addressed the team's needs in the offseason by bringing in talent to fix the positions that failed the Bears in 2012 (tight end ,offensive line, etc.).

If "Mr. Cavallari" wants to be financially rewarded in 2014, he needs to transition from good practice player, to game winner. When he can achieve these goals on the field, then I'll believe that he's "bought into" the new offense.

Until then, he's still just the same old Cutler we've all come to know and tolerate.

Gabe Salgado is a RedEye special contributor. @GabeSalgado82

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