BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Two summers ago, following a particularly brutal practice for the Bears’ offense, quarterback Jay Cutler and then first year offensive coordinator Adam Gase each took to the podium here and told everyone how challenging Gase’s complex offense could be to install. “It’s not something we’re going to pick up in two or three weeks,” Cutler said. “It’s going to take some time ...”
Above all else, that’s likely why Cutler is now a Miami Dolphin, mere months after his brief retirement from the NFL. The Dolphins endured the growing pains of Gase’s system last season and came out the other side, claiming a playoff spot.
Had they traded for a QB or signed a free agent like Colin Kaepernick in the wake of Tannehill’s potentially season-ending knee injury, they would have risked hitting the reset button. Instead, they’re banking on Cutler stepping right back into the swings of things.
“[Learning Gase’s offense] takes a minute,” says new Bears and former Dolphins tight end Dion Sims. “Even being there in [Gase’s] first year with Tannehill, I still don’t think that we were able to max out on the things we were able to do as an offense, move all those pieces around. It takes a little while.”
There is no seller’s remorse in Chicagoland for cutting bait on Cutler—at least not yet. Whether or not Cutler suited up this season, the Bears and their former QB had hit the wall on any progress toward contention. Cutler played just five games last season, his eighth with the franchise, and it was clear by the end that both sides needed a fresh start.
“I think it’s great,” Bears coach John Fox said. “I texted him well wishes and I’m excited for him. It’s another opportunity, and that’s all a guy can ask for. ... He’s familiar with that offense, they’re very similar and there’s carry over for sure, and he’s a sharp guy.”
While Cutler does have a history with Gase, he needs to build relationships with his new offensive pieces in short order. The Dolphins’ first preseason game is Thursday night, vs. the defending NFC champion Falcons, and their regular-season opener comes on Sept. 10 (vs. Tampa Bay).
“Tannehill, he’s a hard worker, man,” Sims says. “I feel bad that had to happen to him, it's very unfortunate. He’s a tough dude and he works his tail off. Things just happen, you can’t predict anything. ... It’s definitely hard for a team because they have a new guy coming in right when almost the season’s getting ready to start, so that’s tough.
“They’ll find a way, they’ll figure it out.”
Obviously, Cutler was a popular topic at Bears camp Monday, even as they continue to prep their new QB trio of Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez and rookie Mitchell Trubisky for the 2017 campaign. Glennon remains the unquestioned starter, and he will remain there into the regular season, barring injury.
The future beyond that belongs to Trubisky, whom the Bears traded up to land at No. 2 overall. Had Chicago and Cutler stuck it out for another season, GM Ryan Pace may not have pulled off that blockbuster move. He definitely would not have handed big bucks over to Glennon.
Pace and the Bears opted to move on instead. But they’re still interested to see how everything turns out for their former QB, now that he’s been reunited with Gase.
“They’re going to get a hell of a quarterback, in my opinion, a guy who knows that system and plays very well in that system,” said veteran Bears tight end Zach Miller. “Obviously, he and Adam had a great relationship.”