The stage has now been fully set for Jay Cutler. With the Chicago Bears' offseason program finished and now a five-week break until training camp practices begin, the Bears quarterback certainly feels like he has everything he wants and needs to succeed.
An offensive line that surrendered only 30 sacks last season is back in full. Cutler’s favorite receiver, Brandon Marshall, is signed to a long-term deal.
On top of that, Cutler has sincere trust and belief in his head coach (Marc Trestman), his offensive coordinator (Aaron Kromer) and his quarterbacks coach (Matt Cavanaugh) plus confidence and continuity in an offensive system that he’s continuing to absorb.
But on top of all that, former Bears general manager Jerry Angelo feels Cutler’s own long-term contract extension – the seven-year deal he signed in January – may be one of the biggest catalysts the quarterback will have heading into his sixth season in Chicago.
“The pressure’s off now. He’s got his contract,” Angelo said this week during an appearance on Kap and Haugh on WGWG-FM 87.7. “In all likelihood it’s going to be his last big contract. And he’s firmly entrenched as the starter and he knows what he has to do. I think he’s going to have an outstanding year. It’s a great offense, great personnel around him. And he’s very, very comfortable now going into his second year (in Trestman’s offense).
"As we’ve talked about before, the biggest thing right now is just staying healthy. If he stays healthy the sky’s the limit for the team.”
Some might argue that Cutler actually faces more pressure than ever this year, needing to prove he was worth the $126 million investment the Bears are making. In many ways, the opportunity to win big has arrived. And the pressure for Cutler to do so figures to rise.
Responded Angelo: “Every quarterback who’s starting in the National Football League feels the pressure to win and to take his team to the next level. That’s a given. So that’s always been there. The pressure I’m alluding to is that he now has the full commitment of the organization, of the coaching staff, etcetera. Now he’s in a comfort level.
“That’s a big weight on players as they go through their process with a team. ‘Do they really believe in me? Is it me or is it they can’t find somebody else like me or better than me?’ Now he knows he’s the guy. So from that standpoint, are we going to see a better player? I don’t know that he’s going to be a better player. But I think you’re going to see a player who now feels totally committed because he feels a total commitment from the organization.”
The Bears wrapped up their mini-camp on Thursday afternoon at Halas Hall and will report to training camp on July 23 in Bourbonnais.