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John Fox says he’s still learning, deciding about Jay Cutler

John Fox

Chicago Bears coach John Fox answers a question during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

AP

The Bears’ first order of business at the NFL Scouting Combine was to talk to a possible backup quarterback.

And then came the uncomfortable business of talking about their starter.

New Bears coach John Fox came far short of a ringing endorsement of quarterback Jay Cutler during his remarks at the podium.

“I don’t think there’s any question that there’s ability and talent there [with Cutler], but there’s a lot more that goes into it,” Fox said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’re evaluating that as we speak.”

Dealing with the hot-and-cold Cutler is going to be one of Fox’s biggest challenges in his new job, but not the only one. He’s also going to be faced with fixing a bad defense, though he’s got background with quick turnarounds there before.
But rolling Cutler out there is going to be different than having Peyton Manning at his disposal in Denver.

There’s little doubt that Cutler is going anywhere (based on contract and options), but Fox’s man-management skills were on center stage in one of his first real chances to talk about him.

“We’re not up against a deadline,” Fox said. “My experiences has always been to be still, gather the information and try to use it to make better decisions. We’re in that process and we’ll keep you posted. . . .

“I think just getting to know him. I think everybody’s got perceptions, but I think [it’s] getting to know the guy. This is a relationship business and you know it takes time. I’m not going to stand up here and give you a final evaluation when I’m maybe a 1/4 through the test.”

Meeting with free agent Josh McCown this morning adds an interesting plot twist, but Fox is also smart enough to know Cutler gives him the best chance at sustained success in Chicago. But keeping Cutler on his toes is also part of what Fox needs to accomplish.