Offensive coordinator Adam Gase has left the Bears after one season to become head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
Gase was among the NFL's top head-coaching candidates, also interviewing with the Browns, Eagles and Giants before agreeing to join the Dolphins.
"We did exhaustive research on all of the candidates ahead of time and conducted thorough and detailed interviews with each person," Dolphins owner and managing general partner Stephen Ross said in a statement. "In the end, I was convinced and the search committee was unanimous Adam was the right leader for our football team who best met all of our priorities. He has high-energy is competitive and driven to win with a mindset of teaching and developing players."
"I couldn't be happier for Adam and his family," Cutler said. "He has worked extremely hard his entire career and is very deserving of this opportunity. I wish he could stay with us in Chicago, but everyone has a journey and this is the next part of his.
"His work with quarterbacks is well documented and I know firsthand how good he is. He will now continue to have success in this league as a head coach. I thank him for all his hard work and look forward to following this next step in his career."
The next step for the Bears is to find Gase's successor. When asked last Monday about the possibility of having to replace Gase, coach John Fox said: "We have a good plan in place and finding good quality coaches has never been a problem."
Some outside Halas Hall have wondered whether Cutler would regress without Gase. But Fox insisted last Monday that Cutler wouldn't have to learn a new offense if Gase left.
"Our systems are our systems," Fox said. "They're not any individual's systems; they are our systems. Our systems aren't changing—offense, defense or special teams.
"You tweak and you grow and you adjust. You have to do that in this league because it's a fluid league. There are trends and things that happen and things that you have to react to regardless of what they are. That's all part of coaching. One of the hard things about being a new staff is introducing those systems, and they won't change."
General manager Ryan Pace has faith that Fox's 27 seasons as an NFL coach will help the Bears find a suitable replacement for Gase, joking last Monday that "one of the benefits of John being 100 years old is he knows a lot of coaches around the league."
Gase joined the Bears last January after spending the previous six seasons with the Denver Broncos, the last four working for Fox as quarterbacks coach (2011-12) and offensive coordinator (2013-14).
With Gase coordinating an offense that featured star quarterback Peyton Manning, the Broncos set an NFL record with 606 points en route to a Super Bowl appearance in 2013 and scored 486 points in winning their fourth straight division title in 2014.
In Gase's first year as coordinator in 2013, Denver set NFL records with 76 touchdowns and five players with at least 10 TDs. Manning earned his fifth MVP award after setting league passing marks with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns.
The 2013 Broncos became the first NFL team in 45 years to top 50 points in three games and they led the league in scoring by 10.1 points per game, the largest margin since the 1941 Bears (12.5).