How Adam Gase's 'plan' for Bears QB Jay Cutler is working


How Adam Gase's 'plan' for Bears QB Jay Cutler is working

Just as an aside here: Not that it’s worth spending too much time pondering at this point, but as I’ve noted once before, this is quite possibly the only Chicago season that Jay Cutler will have to work with offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

If Cutler does poorly, he is unlikely to see another season as a Bear. If Cutler and the offense do well, Gase is unlikely to be passed over for head-coaching opportunities. Something in between good and bad could play out, but Gase was interviewed for top jobs last offseason and his appeal isn’t apt to decline with a year making over Cutler and an offense.

But that’s off in the future. The present is considerably more interesting at this point, particularly the zero-interception game Cutler just played. Here’s why:

One of the prime directives guiding Gase when he took the Bears job was eliminating or at least substantially reducing the turnovers that have defined Cutler’s career. After weeks of due diligence in the form of calls to Cutler former (fired) offensive coaches to gain insight into Cutler, Gase’s plan became to truncate, not the playbook, but rather Cutler’s flexibility options within it.

[MORE: Frustration growing around injury status of Alshon Jeffery]

The result has been a more controlled Cutler, still capable of cataclysmic turnovers, but one with limited audible latitude (somewhere Aaron Kromer is smiling) and greater clarity of purpose, which typically translates into cleaner execution.

With an interception-less game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Cutler’s interception rate dropped to 2.3 percent, nearly to the career-low (2.2 percent) that he was logging in 2011 when he had the Bears at 7-3 before breaking his thumb. Not coincidentally, that was under Mike Martz, who similarly gave Cutler a very short leash on decision-making and who was one of those on Gase’s call list earlier this year.

One or two epic games do not a turnaround make. More than one or two “new” Jay Cutlers have materialized over the years. And Cutler has yet to post a turnover-free 2015 game, a four-game record that continued with his losing the football for a sack-fumble Kansas City touchdown.

But what Cutler has done is dial up his playmaking at crucial points when he does keep footballs in his team’s hands. If the interception arrow continues to trend downward as his leadership one is pointing upward.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

“We're here to get players better and we expect our players to be receptive and do the things we ask,” said coach John Fox. “And from the very beginning as far as learning the offensive system, some of the accountability it takes at the quarterback position, [Cutler] has been all in and worked real hard with the offensive staff learning the system, putting in the time it takes to execute it and I think he's grown and he'll continue to grow.

“We’re six months into it from just a learning aspect, not even practicing aspect, but I like what I've seen and I expect him to get better moving forward.”

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

USA Today

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

The Chicago Bears logo has withstood the test of time. In a sports era full of uniform changes, the Bears have maintained the classic orange 'C' for most of their nearly 100 years in Chicago.

Unfortunately, tradition doesn't equate to popularity.

Chicago's logo ranked 28th in the NFL, according to a recent poll of nearly 1,500 football fans. Only the Redskins (29), Bengals (30), Jets (31) and Browns (32) were worse.

I’m not sure how I feel about the underbite on the “C.” I can see how this would be a polarizing feature of this logo. I wish to an extent that it met up more evenly. I think they could have had the bottom meet up in a more even fashion and still maintained the sharpness, of the “C,” which I like. I don’t mind the point [ON THE BACK SIDE OF THE “C”], without the point it would be super boring. The point actually does add something from a design standpoint that makes it stand out.

Bears fans will take exception with the results. Wins have been hard to come by in recent seasons, but there's still something special about seeing the familiar navy and orange on Sundays in the fall. The 'C' is arguably the biggest part of that. Sure, it's not a complex design overflowing with colors, but it represents a long and storied history. 

It's interesting that each of the bottom five teams have struggled to string together winning seasons. On the flipside, teams like the Saints, Falcons, Rams, Vikings and Eagles rank in the top six. Maybe it's recency bias.

In the NFC North, the Lions rank No. 2 (which is a shocker) and the Packers are No. 20. 

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Former first-round pick Kevin White hasn't caught a break -- or a touchdown -- through the first three years of his career. He has more season-ending injuries than 100-yard games and after an offseason focused on upgrades at wide receiver, White's future in Chicago beyond 2018 is very much in doubt.

Ryan Pace declined the fifth-year option in White's rookie contract, making this a prove-it year for the pass-catcher who once resembled a blend of Larry Fitzgerald and Dez Bryant during his time at West Virginia.

He's getting a fresh start from new coach Matt Nagy.

"He is healthy and he's really doing well," Nagy told Danny Kanell and Steve Torre Friday on SiriusXM's Dog Days Sports. "We're trying to keep him at one position right now so he can focus in on that."

White can't take all the blame for his 21 catches, 193 yards and zero scores through 48 possible games. He's only suited up for five. Whether it's bad luck or bad bone density, White hasn't had a legitimate chance to prove, on the field, that he belongs.

Nagy's looking forward, not backward, when it comes to 2015's seventh pick overall.

"That's gone, that's in the past," Nagy said of White's first three years. "This kid has a new future with us."

White won't be handed a job, however.

"He's gotta work for it, he's gotta put in the time and effort to do it," Nagy said. "But he will do that, he's been doing it. He's a great weapon, he's worked really hard. He has great size, good speed. We just want him to play football and not worry about anything else."