It wasn’t immediately clear when he took over the Bears prior to last season whether coach John Fox even wanted quarterback Jay Cutler.
But now, Fox likes Cutler enough to make excuses for him.
Via Emily Kaplan of TheMMQB.com, Fox was quick to point out that Cutler didn’t have as much help as he needed at times.
Cutler’s career-best passer rating season (92.3) came without any contribution from first-round wide receiver Kevin White, and sporadic contributions from top wideout Alshon Jeffery.
“I thought Jay had an outstanding year,” Fox said. “It wasn’t ideal. Alshon [Jeffery] wasn’t healthy the whole season. Kevin White did not play. I’m not knocking any of the guys that did play, but a lot is always made of the quarterback, and his supporting cast is critical.
“I don’t care what it is—defense, offense, wideouts, ability to run the ball, . . . there’s a lot that goes into it besides one guy, although that guy gets a lot of the magnified glass. So if you saw what Jay did last year, I’m expecting good things again.”
Cutler was able to do good work by not turning the ball over nearly as much, with just 16 giveaways compared to 24 the previous year.
But he’s going to have to replicate that without a number of key pieces, from running back Matt Forte and tight end Martellus Bennett to offensive coordinator Adam Gase. But to keep things stable, the Bears stayed in-house and promoted quarterback coach Dowell Loggains.
“It was critical to keep Jay comfortable,” Fox says. “Everything comes through the quarterback, so keeping Jay in the same system is best for us.”
While it’s unclear if Cutler will respond the same way he did a year ago, he’s at least earned some trust from his boss.