Dungy: Bears not far from contention

With the right weapons around him, Jay Cutler might also hold a Lombardi Trophy some day. Matthew Emmons/US Presswire

While many are elevating Eli Manning into the ranks of the NFL's elite after his second Super Bowl victory on Sunday, Tony Dungy was comparing the New York Giants star with another quarterback who has battled critics throughout his career.

Dungy can see attributes in Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler that remind him of Manning. Like many Bears fans, Dungy can see Cutler achieve ultimate success if he's surrounded with the right weapons.

"You absolutely could ... and it doesn't have to be first round draft choices," Dungy said Monday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "Victor Cruz was undrafted. Mario Manningham was a good player but not a great player. Jake Ballard kind of replaced Kevin Boss and he wasn't a household word.

"So, these receivers, if you get playmakers and they can come from anywhere ... So I do, I think it's a very good parallel with Jay and Eli."

In fact, Dungy believes the Bears aren't that far off from returning to Super Bowl contention.

"I think they're really close, and you look at the Giants and at Green Bay and this is sort of the blueprint for the decade we're in with the rule changes," Dungy said. "If you have a quarterback that can make big plays and a passing game that can click and make big plays for you, and if you can rush the passer, you're a Super Bowl contender.

"You don't have to be great in other areas. Now the Bears have a return game, they've got some other things that are good, they've got a great running back. If you look at it, these last two or three teams that have won, you get healthy and hot at the right now, you don't even have to have a great regular season record, but if you're healthy and you have a quarterback that can make plays, which the Bears do, and if you have pass rushers which the Bears do, if you're healthy you can win it. So I don't think they're that far away."