Bears OC: Jay Cutler's intelligence 'way better than what I thought'

BOURBONNIAS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase said Wednesday that after six training camp practices, embattled quarterback Jay Cutler is "further ahead than everybody else" on offense in terms of understanding the new scheme Gase brought with him from Denver.

"His intelligence is way better than what I thought," Gase said. "His ability to communicate with his teammates [is impressive] because he's further ahead than everybody else. He's able to get our wideouts on the same page."

For his part, Cutler has expressed excitement over working with Gase from the moment the former Broncos offensive coordinator arrived in Chicago on Jan. 21. Although Cutler and Gase never overlapped in any of their previous NFL stops, the two men have been friendly since Cutler's rookie season in 2006.

"Any quarterback I think is going to be happy with [Gase]," Cutler said. "He does a really good job putting you in the right position, keeping the defense off balance, mixing up the play calls and that makes it easier on the quarterback."

However, Bears fans have heard this before.

Multiple offensive coordinators have failed to maximize Cutler's talent since the quarterback joined the Bears in 2009. Despite his obvious physical skills, Cutler has led Chicago to only one playoff win in six years. He even briefly lost his starting job late in 2014 following a dreadful "Monday Night Football" performance where Cutler tossed three interceptions and finished with a 55.8 passer rating in a loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Gase paused when asked after Wednesday's practice if he believes he can bring out the best in Cutler.

"Right now, time will tell," Gase said. "We're taking it one day at a time right now. If I knew what was going to happen, I'd play the lottery. Right now, I don't know. Every day, we're getting a little bit better. He's doing a good job of staying with it and getting better."

One thing is certain: The Bears want to do a better job of relieving pressure on Cutler by balancing out the offense with the run game. Chicago ran the ball less than 40 percent of the time in 2014.

"[Being more balanced] is going to help every quarterback across the league," Cutler said. "Everyone at the end of the day wants to have some sort of balance. It gives you friendlier coverages. You see fewer blitzes. It's going to make your life a little bit easier. Adam's aware of that. I know Coach Fox preaches on it as well. It's going to be something in the back of our minds we're always going to be thinking about."

Gase additionally stressed the importance of moving Cutler outside of the pocket. Perhaps Cutler's most underrated skill is his ability to make plays while on the run.

"I think we all know that his athletic ability for a guy his size is pretty unique; there are not a lot of guys like him," Gase said. "We'll try to do what we need to do within a game. How the defense is playing -- is that because of five naked bootlegs a game, great. If it's two ... you never know how a game is going to play out, you never know how they're playing. So you have to kind of play off the defense -- how are they playing the run game? -- and then you go off of there. But his ability to move outside the pocket ... we really like what he's done so far and we'll keep growing that package."

Cutler added: "Adam's put a big asterisk on it this offseason and going into training camp. It's something we need to do more. I know Adam likes moving the pocket. He's been with quarterbacks that can do it and quarterbacks that can't do it. It's something that if you are able to do it, it makes calling plays a little bit easier because you are able to move that launch point from time to time."

The Broncos routinely moved Cutler outside the pocket during his first three years in the league. Coincidently, Cutler's lone Pro Bowl appearance came with the Broncos in 2008, the year before he orchestrated a trade to the Bears.