Marc Trestman was trying to talk up Jay Cutler, but somehow the thing ended up going sideways.
It depends on your interpretation, of course, and mine is the Bears coach came off as wrong and forgetful in a recent interview on SiriusXM NFL radio.
“Jay has really worked hard in the offseason, and he has always been a hard worker in his conditioning and his training, but he has really amped it up,’’ Trestman said. “He’s bigger, he’s stronger than a year ago, and he has really focused on staying physically well for the entire season. That’s No. 1 – we’ve go to keep him standing, keep him safe.’’
That’s great for a lot of reasons. If the most important player on the team is setting that kind of example, then teammates will follow. If it helps the most significant player on the field actually stay on the field, then that works, too.
But here’s the thing: Cutler has never looked fat or out of shape, so who knows what Trestman was talking about, and most of Cutler’s injuries last season and in his Bears career had nothing to do with fitness.
If his knee is going to get rammed the way it did against the Packers in the NFC Championship Game, then all the situps in the world won’t stop a ligament injury. Same goes for a thumb injury incurred while trying to tackle a defensive back.
As for last season, perhaps strength and fitness training would’ve limited the groin injury he suffered in Washington if he could’ve outrun a tackler. Again, that’s only a perhaps.
But I don’t know how being in better shape would’ve averted the sprained ankle he suffered against the Lions.
“I thought that we took pretty darn good care of him,’’ Trestman said. “I think he would agree.’’
Not so fast, fella.
Trestman’s point is that the Bears offensive line zoomed from 27th in sacks per pass attempts in Lovie Smith’s last season to fourth in Trestman’s first. The biggest reason for the improvement was starting the same five linemen all season, a stunning accomplishment for a team with a recent history of drafting preinjured offensive linemen.
Trestman himself, however, sounds like he forgot how questionable his care for Cutler was. Sounds like Trestman forgot how awful his quarterback looked against the Lions on Nov. 10, limping around on an ankle that wasn’t just killing Cutler but was killing the Bears in a must-have division game against a stupid opponent.
Trestman refused to remove Cutler until the last two minutes. Go ahead, Josh, feel free to run around and win the game.
Cutler, you’ll recall, admitted he continually asked Trestman on the sideline how he was looking when he knew he was looking bad. Trestman said he looked great. Everybody played it wrong.
Cutler was wrong in his passive-aggressive approach, obviously mindful of what happens if he, specifically, asks out of a game, no matter that he should’ve asked out of that game after turfing an easy pass.
Who knows what Trestman was seeing? The quarterback whisperer suffered temporary blindness and couldn’t interpret cries for help.
That became the second game Cutler couldn’t finish last season. His ankle injury would cost him the next four games.
I don’t know if a better decision by the head coach would’ve saved his starting quarterback a game or two, but this could hardly be considered taking good care of the most significant player on the field, and I still don’t see how better conditioning would’ve changed that.
If you want to tell me, however, that the coach and quarterback will be smarter this season, then we’re good.