Jay Cutler knows that learning a new offense doesn't happen overnight and believes the Bears will improve throughout the season as players digest coach Marc Trestman's system.
But that doesn't mean the veteran quarterback and his teammates on offense can't perform well in Sunday's season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field.
|Quarterback Jay Cutler's 81.9 passer rating is tops in Bears history.|
To Cutler, the biggest challenge in facing the Bengals will be their front seven, which features two-time All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins. Cincinnati's defense, which ranked third in the NFL last season with 51 sacks, constantly changes its looks and coverages.
"We're going to get rid of the ball quick," Cutler said. "You don't really want to give [Atkins] or any of those other guys a lot of time to work into the second moves because they get to the quarterback. They get to the quarterback a lot and they show you different fronts, which makes it more difficult, trying to figure out who's who. So we've got to be on it with our protection game and then on the outside guys have got to get open quickly."
Protecting the quarterback is extremely important to Trestman, who helped reduced the number of sacks the CFL's Montreal Alouettes gave up in his first season as their head coach in 2008 from 68 the previous year to 22-with virtually the same offensive line.
"They want to get in a rhythm," Cutler said. "They want rhythm passing. We want to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible. That's just kind of been the focus; just staying in rhythm and let your feet tell you when to get rid of the ball and try not to hold onto it too long."
Known for getting the most out of quarterbacks such as Rick Gannon and Steve Young, Trestman has enjoyed working with Cutler and is eager to see how he performs against the Bengals.
"I think he does feel comfortable," Trestman said. "I think that he's excited to play and to see how this whole thing sorts itself out over the course of the season. He's been very efficient, he's been very even-keeled throughout OTAs, training camp. He's worked efficiently over the last few weeks as we finished up training camp and got ready."
Trestman has full confidence in Cutler's ability to lead the offense, but knows that the quarterback's surrounding cast must step up as well for the unit to be successful.
"He's certainly embraced everything we've asked of him," Trestman said. "Now we'll be up on Sunday and we'll have a starting point of where we are and where he is in the offense.
"I feel good about where he is right now. He'll have plays that he can function in right now and on an individual basis. But it's going to take 10 guys around him to be doing their job as well. He can't do it alone. It's not a one-man band out there. He's going to have help out there, and that's part of the deal."
While Cutler understands that it's a team game, he also realizes that quarterbacks are probably scrutinized more than any other position in sports.
"I think 'Trest' does a good job of putting ownership on everybody on the offense and making sure that everyone's accountable," Cutler said. "I'm just kind of a piece of the puzzle. It takes those 10 other guys to do their jobs for me to do mine.
"With that being said, at the quarterback position we do have a lot of pressure, there is a lot of responsibility, and I own up to that each and every day. But in the new offense and where we're at right now, I think this is probably the most comfortable I've felt in a new offense and not having as many reps as somebody in Year 2 or 3 in an offense."