LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- In his first news conference since being hired by the Chicago Bears on January 21, offensive coordinator Adam Gase expressed enthusiasm about working with quarterback Jay Cutler, who is on his fifth offensive coordinator in seven years.
"I feel comfortable with him. I mean, we have a good relationship so far and we’re just going to keep working to get better," Gase said Friday.
"I’ve known him for a long time. We actually spent a lot of time together when he was coming out of college. He always brings up how I picked him up in his visit to Detroit. We had a lot of conversations there and we thought about taking him. We ended up drafting, I think, Ernie Sims that year instead of him. And he goes to Denver and then I end up in Denver and he’s still there. He would always stop me. I was a familiar face for him. I almost came here in 2010 I mean, so there was a lot ... we’ve almost crossed paths quite a bit. And now that I’m here and we’re together, we’ll see how far we can take this thing."
Gase arrives in Chicago after coaching future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning in Denver from 2012-14. Over that span Manning rewrote the NFL record book, leading the Broncos to three consecutive AFC West titles and a berth in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Nobody is comparing Manning to Cutler -- two radically different quarterbacks -- but Gase plans to carry over the same coaching principles to Chicago that he used with Manning in Denver.
"It'll be similar, the way that we're going to do individual, the way that we'll work during practice," Gase said. "A lot of the things that we did, we developed over a three-year span, our relationship with me and Peyton. It's going to take some time, me and him getting used to each other. He's worked with a couple different guys, the good thing is, he's heard a few things that I say. He'll look at me and kind of, 'That's a little Martzist,' right there. But right now we're three actual practices in and 65 plays, so we have a long way to go and we'll see how it goes through the rest of the spring."
Statistically speaking, Cutler enjoyed a productive 2014 season with 3,812 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 18 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 88.6. But the offense turned out to be a train wreck and Cutler was benched in Week 16 before reclaiming the top spot in the regular-season finale thanks to a Jimmy Clausen injury.
Even though the Bears finished with a dismal 5-11 record -- the fifth time in six years the Bears missed the postseason in the Cutler era -- Gase thinks the quarterback has grown mentally in recent years.
"I think most of us would say when he first came into the league he was that gunslinger-type mentality," Gase said. "I see a more patient guy. We’ve just got to get him there for 60 minutes. I think that’s going to be a challenge for all of us as an offense is to make sure we’re patient throughout the game, we’re not forcing things, and we’re trying to get the ball to our playmakers."
Gase added: "He’s lost weight. He looks good. He’s so mature now compared to what he probably was then. When you get married and you got two kids right now, you change over time and between the good and bad things that happen over your career. I think this is his 10th year. I mean, a lot of ups and downs. I think he’s ready for a fresh start."