More than quarterback Jay Cutler is at a fork in the football road in 2013. The Bears are right there with him, at the same fork.
Can/will he trust his support system and will they trust him?
[RELATED: Cutler, Trestman sounding positive about working relationship]
“In critical situations [the need is to know] that you’re going to do the right thing,” said former quarterback Rich Gannon who played for new coach Marc Trestman in both Minnesota and Oakland. “That’s going to be really important in terms of how the Bears start the season and how they finish the season, that relationship between Marc and Jay.”
If Cutler takes his game to another level with the infusion of talent around him over the past two seasons – Martellus Bennett, Michael Bush, Jermon Bushrod, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, Matt Slauson and presumably No. 1 draft choice Kyle Long – his future in Chicago is at risk.
One playoff appearance in the last six seasons got Lovie Smith fired. If Cutler cannot guide the Bears to at least 17 games in an extended season, he will have one playoff appearance in eight NFL seasons.
[MORE -- Cutler: Trestman's care for players is a change]
But if not Cutler, general manager Phil Emery and the organization also will be starting over in another direction, and at a time when Emery would need to be attending to positions elsewhere.
Emery provided Cutler with players who successfully protected Drew Brees (Bushrod) and caught passes from Eli Manning (Bennett). He also provided him with Jeremy Bates last year (didn’t work) and now has given him Trestman.
Gannon, who was NFL MVP with Trestman in 2002, is clear on the trust need.
“It’s really important to Marc and all the quarterbacks, that the trust factor is absolutely vital,” Gannon said. “All the good offenses that you’re around and good quarterbacks in the league, they’ve got that great relationship with the play-caller. They trust him to do the right thing for him, and also that Marc would trust Jay that if he calls a play and it’s not there, that Jay is not going to force the ball down the field – that Jay’s going to do the right thing…”
Trestman and the Bears brought Gannon to Halas Hall during this week’s minicamp, partly as an information source, partly as a source of perspective for Cutler and the other Bears quarterbacks.
[RELATED -- Minicamp over; next stop: Bourbonnais]
Most notably, Gannon had his greatest season (2002) at age 37 and with his fourth NFL team.
“I’ve left it up to the quarterback to ask Rich the questions about his experiences and his journey, which was a long one and a diverse one,” Trestman said. “He went through a lot of different ups and downs before he elevated himself to where he finished his career. I thought it would give good perspective and Rich agreed to do it and we’re happy to see him here.”