Leading The Way?


This is Cutler's team now

Greenberg By Jon Greenberg

Jay Cutler's intangibles can't be measured, which is sort of the point of intangibles.

Ephemeral skills like leadership fall into that category.

Is there a Quarterback Leadership Rating? No, of course not.

But it's easy to wax on about leadership as a skill, especially for quarterbacks.

In Cutler's four years, his body language has been dissected and his leadership skills questioned so much, it often overshadowed his actual play on the field, which has been spotty at best.

Cutler isn't easy to diagnose as a quarterback or a teammate. He's moody, mercurial, cocky, funny, talented, aggressive, bold, dangerous. He's something different to everyone.

Right now, he just looks great. You hear stories about him taking ownership of the offense, leading offseason meetings and creating a calm atmosphere in the huddle.

Two comeback wins and two stellar fourth quarters are proof that Cutler's leadership, however you gauge it, is positive right now. Even his interceptions seem different, not as careless maybe.

I don't want to come off as reactionary, but it's pretty clear the Bears are going to be defined by their offense now and in the future. The coach is an offensive guy, the big names are on offense. The big-money additions are on offense.

Change has finally come to Not-So Pleasantville, Ill.

During his second season, a former Broncos teammate of Cutler's told me why the quarterback didn't work as the team leader in Denver, but surmised that wouldn't matter in Chicago, where the defense dominated the locker room.

Thus, Cutler had time to ingratiate himself to his teammates and establish himself as a veteran leader. But his performance didn't always match his standing. This year, it seems like it will.

With Marc Trestman running the show and Cutler looking very comfortable in his role, this is undoubtedly his team. He seems to understand that now.

It's early but it looks like the question has been answered: Cutler is a franchise quarterback and this is his franchise.

Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com

Getting QB's respect is key

Dickerson By Jeff Dickerson

Quarterbacks are leaders by default.

Jay Cutler has been a "leader" on offense since the day he arrived in town in 2009. The real question is whether or not he "leads" the right way.

Too often in the past Cutler would melt down during a game when he made mistakes or when he got frustrated with his teammates for their inability to make plays or block. Cutler's frustration with undersized wide receivers and substandard blockers was/is understandable, but whenever a quarterback loses his composure during a game, the team has almost no shot to win.

But Cutler has brought a different temperament to the field in the first two weeks of the 2013 regular season. He still makes mistakes -- Cutler turned the ball over three times in the 31-30 victory over the Vikings -- but for the first time in four-plus years, the quarterback has shown that he is capable of moving past the errors and guiding the Bears to wins in the fourth quarter.

That is a huge development.

What's the reason for the change? My hunch is that Cutler feels like he finally has a head coach/playcaller whom he can trust, wide receivers/tight ends who can catch, and offensive linemen who can block.

When Cutler respects the people around him on the field good things tend to happen to the Bears.

However, when Cutler loses respect in someone it's over.

The real test for Cutler and the Bears will come when the team inevitably begins to lose some games. In a league full of parity, the Bears are probably going to find themselves in close games for much of the season. After all, the Bears could easily be 0-2, instead of 2-0.

What's going to happen when the Bears' offense scuffles for two straight weeks?

Will the quarterback and his teammates remain committed to coach Marc Trestman and to each other?

Everything is great when teams are winning. But true character is revealed through how a team deals with adversity. And the Bears will face adversity at some point this year. That's a given.

But if the Cutler who kept his composure in the first two weeks is still around in Weeks 15, 16 and 17, the Bears could be playing well into 2014.

Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com.


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