One reason for some reasonable skepticism at the til-now harmonious relationship between new coach Marc Trestman and his quarterback is because more than a little of the lavish praise being heaped on Jay Cutler has the feel of a distant echo.
No one ever gushed over Cutler’s “brilliance” and other attributes than Mike Martz when the latter arrived as the Bears’ offensive coordinator. By the midpoint of their second season together, Cutler was making derisive comments and cursing Martz on the field.
But Trestman is not Martz, and there are tangible reasons to trust some of what appears to forming between Trestman and Cutler. And reasons why Martz-Cutler was a fusion reaction once it got going.
Martz was an autocrat. He had his system and it was going to work – never mind that J’Marcus Webb could no more block a seven-step drop than execute one himself. The game had changed, Martz hadn’t, and Cutler simply became the next in a line of quarterbacks whose increased passing numbers were paralleled by the surging number of times they were sacked.
It took Cutler’s insistence for Martz to allow Cutler to operate out of the pocket by design. Even then there were no audibles.
Cutler has options, other than “read-options.”
Trestman, coordinator Aaron Kromer and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh have from the beginning worked their system around Cutler. It helps that it is very similar to what worked for Cutler in Denver under Mike Shanahan.
But a good manager is one who fits a system to the player. If Cutler seems calmer when a defense is showing blitz, it’s because he has an option out of a bad play, and because he has coaches who want the ball gone and into someone else’s hands before the rush hits Cutler.
Martz had been offensive coordinator in a winning Super Bowl (1999). After that he was the St. Louis Rams head coach in a losing one, followed by a gradual decline and eventual ouster. He coached an MVP (Kurt Warner, twice). But his subsequent berths in Detroit and San Francisco were disasters.
Trestman was a coordinator in a losing Super Bowl (2002, Oakland) and for an MVP (Rich Gannon). He also was head coach of a championship team (Montreal).
Kromer’s last gig was New Orleans and taking care of the line that took care of Drew Brees all the way to a ring.
Cavanaugh has two Super Bowl rings as a player and was offensive coordinator for a Super Bowl winner (2000, Baltimore).
Players do not want fire from their coaches. As quarterback Josh McCown told CSNChicago.com, the main thing they all want is to know a coach works as hard as they do and, more important, gives them the plan they need, “the arrows I need in my quiver.”
Cutler listened to Martz initially. When it became painfully apparent that the wrong arrows were being given, he stopped.
Of course, if he stops listening to Trestman, best guess is that the one going will not be the coach.