After finishing 28th in the NFL in offense in 2012 the Chicago Bears fired Lovie Smith and hired offensive-minded coach Marc Trestman of the CFL.
Trestman is considered a quarterback guru and the offenses he has led in both the NFL and CFL have been among the best in those leagues.
He has had success working with quarterbacks Steve Young and Rich Gannon.
With this hiring, quarterback Jay Cutler is facing a career-defining season in 2013.
Since being acquired by the Bears in 2009 Cutler was supposed to be the team's first true franchise quarterback. Cutler and the offense have failed to live up to expectations.
Part of the problem was former general manager Jerry Angelo’s inability to upgrade the offense and provide Cutler with weapons. Current general manager Phil Emery has traded for Brandon Marshall and drafted Alshon Jeffrey in hopes of giving Cutler the play-makers he needs.
Marshall had a superb season in 2012 but the offense as whole was a huge disappointment. Bringing in a coach like Trestman, who will work with the quarterbacks as well as call the plays, shows that Emery is doing what Angelo and Smith refused to do: he is adapting to the current style of play in the NFL. It is a quarterback and passing league.
Emery got Cutler the receiver he had been lacking in Marshall but Cutler looked to him so often that the rest of the receivers were an after thought. Whenever things got tight Cutler would always try and force the ball to Marshall and when the Bears played teams with a good defense the offense did nothing. Cutler will need to look to get the rest of the receivers more involved to keep the defense from double teaming Marshall.
Part of the issue with this was Jeffrey was hurt for a good chunk of his rookie season. He could not get into a rhythm this season with Cutler and it showed. He will be relied upon in the future and if he can stay healthy it looks like he will have a very good career in the NFL.
Heading into the 2013 offseason there are areas of improvement Emery must make on the offensive side of the ball. Upgrading the offensive line and the tight end position are the two biggest needs for the Bears. If the Bears can get a tight end who can stretch the middle of the field, that will give Cutler more opportunities to advance the offense.
It sounds as if the Bears’ offense is in good hands with Trestman. A head coach can only do so much, though. It is up to the quarterback to lead the offense and take it upon himself to improve it. The Bears must score more points if they want to keep up in the NFC.
Trestman said at his introductory press conference that he will be very hands on with the quarterback position. This means Cutler will have no excuses for not, at the very least, improving the Bears' offense. With no contract beyond the 2013 season Cutler is playing for his future in Chicago. The Bears will need to see a lot of improvement in Cutler before they invest tens of millions of dollars in him.
Cutler has all the tools to be a great quarterback and it may take a coach like Trestman to get the best out of him. The 2013 season will tell a lot about how Emery and Trestman view Cutler. Emery did not bring in Cutler. He is not his guy.
If Cutler and the offense have a mediocre season in 2013 the Bears could be in the market for a new quarterback. If Cutler does not show improvement to the point where the Bears feel comfortable giving him an extension they could place the franchise tag on him while they explore other options at the quarterback position.
This would set the franchise back a couple years if they realize Cutler is not their guy.
The 2013 season is the biggest of Cutler’s career. This is the season that could define how he is viewed going forward.