BOURBONNAIS - One of the focal points during the first week of Bears training camp has been Marc Trestman's offense. Rumors spread that some weren't buying in to his system, but quarterback Jay Cutler quickly dismissed the notion after Wednesday's practice in Bourbonnais.
"Everyone's bought in so we're good now ... 100 percent," Cutler stated emphatically. "There's been ups and downs, that's any training camp. Guys are learning the offense and we're moving along."
'Buying in' is something Cutler has to do. If he puts up the type of season Bears fans have been longing for, it could lead to a long-term extension or a lucrative contract elsewhere in the offseason.
With his fourth offensive coordinator - Aaron Kromer - in five seasons, Cutler knows the expectations are high.
"It's a business, if you're winning ball games you're probably going to stay in the same offense," Cutler said. That's part of the deal, you just got to go with the flow and learn the offense the best you can and hopefully you'll be successful."
Inserting Kromer in the equation is just part of the puzzle for Cutler.
For the first time since joining the Bears, No. 6 will have an offensive-minded head coach. Something he hasn't had since his days with Mike Shanahan in Denver. Cutler's best season from a statistical standpoint came in his final year with the Broncos in 2008 where he threw for 4,526 yards and garnered a Pro Bowl selection.
Shanahan let Cutler 'air it out' that season, throwing 616 passes, but don't expect that to happen under Trestman.
"Ideally you want to be as close to balance as you can, I know Trestman likes to air it out," Cutler said. "With our backs and our ability to run the ball, 616 is a high number. It's similar to what we did in Denver, we've got a lot of talent on the outside so the faster we can get it to them and let them work."
Much talk has been about how complex Trestman's system is and how it could take three years to master it, but Cutler doesn't see any reason to believe why it can't successful from Day 1.
"You still have to have high expectations, he said. "Just because we don't know completely 100 percent of it, there's no reason why we can't go out there and be successful."
Grasping the "O"
If the Bears plan on running the read-option this season, the coaching staff isn't divulging any of their secrets. In fact, Trestman stated that they plan to keep it as "vanilla" as possible and not give anything away in preseason.
With the complexity of his offense, Trestman knows the importance of getting the basics down and he believes that's something Cutler has excelled at in the first week of camp.
"I think he [Cutler] is doing an excellent job," Trestman said. "You have to stay up with it every day and they've [QB's] done a fantastic job of doing that because each and every day we give them a lot of things to think about and we've got guys with tremendous football intelligence, their smart guys, but they are also really smart at football and they are able to take on all the information and they like it."
Something that the new regime has stressed throughout camp is wanting leaders on and off the field. Kromer has seen that in Cutler with the way he's worked with the wideouts and the other quarterbacks on the roster. He echoed Trestman's comments and is happy with the progression Cutler has shown.
"Jay has really done a nice job of digesting the system and he's done a nice job of leading the group to help them learn the system," Kromer said. "It's been a pleasant preseason in that way.
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"I think he is doing a good job with managing the offense, controlling and helping the receivers to be on the same page with him and that's what's important to a quarterback and to an offense."
Monsters of the red zone
Struggles in the red zone have been an area that's plagued the Bears in recent seasons. If Wednesday's practice was any indication, opposing defenses will have their work cut out for them in 2013.
Cutler completed three-straight red zone touchdown passes. It started with Alshon Jeffery making a highlight reel, leaping catch, then Brandon Marshall hauling in a ball on a fade route and finally, Martellus Bennett corralling a pass in the back of the end zone and finishing it off with a slam dunk through the goal posts to the delight of 5,000-plus fans at Olivet Nazarene University.
"We have some big dudes out there, Brandon and Alshon, Martellus and Fendi [Onobun]," Cutler said. "Those are big guys, you just kind of have to put it up high, they understand football."
Kromer discussed the added dimension of having big targets in the red zone and the threat they will pose when teams have to worry about covering the whole field.
"It's good to have a situation like that where you can throw some fades into the side of the end zone and where you have to cover 53-yards in the end zone, it makes it tough"
If all goes well in 2013, Trestman may have to send a few 'Thank You' notes to opposing GM's for not drafting Jeffery and Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland for trading Marshall to the Bears, but there hasn't been a day he's gone without letting Phil Emery know how much he appreciates the 'monster' targets in the passing game.
"We're very lucky, we thank Phil every day when we come off the field that he was able to bring in guys with this kind of size, girth and we're going to do our best to put them in a position to have success."