The hiring of respected offensive coordinator Adam Gase has brought out the best in Cutler, who has completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 2,045 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions (95.3 quarterback rating).
Here are five reasons why Cutler has turned the corner under Gase:
1. Playing within the system: The light finally went on for Cutler. He has kicked the habit of taking unnecessary risks. Cutler’s arm strength used to be a blessing and a curse. The 32-year-old often tried to fit the football in a small window, usually to Chicago’s detriment. Cutler has still turned the ball over seven times in 2015, but he has cut down on the disaster plays. Gase has reinforced the importance of protecting the football. Cutler is a smarter quarterback because of Gase.
2. Commitment to the run: The Bears’ ground game under former coach Marc Trestman was sporadic and inconsistent. Gase is a proponent of a more balanced attack. The Bears are averaging just below 30 rushing attempts per game behind Matt Forte (currently injured) and rookie Jeremy Langford. Last year, Chicago ran the ball 22 times per game. That is a huge difference. Teams can’t sit back and simply bait Cutler into throwing the ball into double or triple coverage. The Bears generally have defenses on their heels. The best way to manage a turnover-prone quarterback: run the football. Gase has figured that out.
3. Move the pocket: The most underrated part of Cutler’s game is his mobility. Cutler is a phenomenal athlete. He has run the ball 22 times for 115 yards and one touchdown in eight games. Those are impressive numbers for any quarterback. Cutler is a dual threat outside of the pocket. Gase has capitalized on Cutler’s versatile skill set and called for some read-option and roll-out plays. Gone are the days when Mike Martz used to make Cutler take seven-step drops behind a suspect offensive line. Cutler was sacked 52 times in 2010. He has been sacked 12 times this year. The offensive coordinator also plays a role in pass protection.
4. Better communication: The Bears like to run an up-tempo offense under Gase. Remember when Cutler used to freak out and call timeout because plays came in late from the sideline? Former quarterbacks coach Shane Day deserved combat pay for having to put up with Cutler. That doesn’t happen under Gase. Cutler has a firm grasp of the game plan every week, and when adjustments are made in-game (that never happened with Trestman), the coordinator and quarterback remain on the same page. Cutler is so much calmer on game day. Gase and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains deserve the bulk of the credit for that breakthrough.
5. Strong relationship: Gase is the only Bears coordinator to click with Cutler. Cutler never gave Ron Turner a chance. Martz was past his prime. Mike Tice is a good offensive line coach, but Cutler’s petulant move in Dallas in 2012 when he stood up and walked away from Tice on the bench told you all you needed to know about what the quarterback thought about Tice's play calling. Trestman and Aaron Kromer, well, that didn’t end well. Cutler deserves plenty of blame for failing to make those previous relationships work, but what’s done is done. Cutler likes Gase. They’ve been friendly for years, and Gase went to great lengths to research the quarterback’s background and personality upon accepting the Bears job. Loggains is also a Cutler supporter. When Cutler is comfortable, he’s a pretty effective quarterback.