Ten Questions Facing the Chicago Bears in 2015

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Dec 28, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) passes against the Minnesota Vikings in the second quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 13-9. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Can Jay Cutler rebound in 2015?

I’ve been a Jay Man since he was winging passes and surly looks at Vanderbilt in the early 2000s. I followed from afar when he was in Denver, celebrated when the Bears landed him in 2009, and kept the faith during the many rocky stages from 2009 to 2013.

Every season during those years had a narrative that excused Jay’s erratic play. Sometimes it was the poor offensive line; other times it was injuries. There were some quality Bears teams in those seasons (2010, 2012) that were just a little off. Jay was always part of the reason those teams were good, but also part of the reason they fell short.

Alas, 2014 proved that Jay hasn’t – and most likely, won’t – move beyond those peaks and valleys. The turnovers were overpowering (18 interceptions, 12 fumbles), while it seemed a surplus of his Bears career-best yardage and touchdowns (3,812 yards, 28 touchdowns) came in garbage time in contests like New England, New Orleans, Dallas, and the second Green Bay game. Any progress he seemed to make under former coach Marc Trestman in 2013 evaporated by the end of the 2014 season.

Oct 5, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) reacts after an interception during the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers defeated the Bears 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

I threw in the towel on Jay as a game-changing quarterback after the 2014 season. For two straight seasons, he was the focal point of the offense, and he responded with turnovers and a 10-16 record as a starter.

In this new scheme, though, Gase and Fox will likely shift the focal point from Jay to the running game, and I think Jay will be the better for it.

He won’t rebound and put up big numbers, but I think he can rebound to the player he was in 2010-2012, which was probably his glory stretch with the Bears. The Cutler from that era seemed to understand his limitations, and the team ran the ball with reasonable success behind a porous offensive line. Now, he has a better offensive line, the same running back and two solid reserve runners and an up-and-coming offensive coordinator.

If Gase takes the ball out of Cutler’s hands through the running game and limits his options in the passing game, Cutler can rebound to the type of quarterback who is capable of getting the Bears to the playoffs. Statistically he’d take a step back, but he’d cut down on the turnovers, and that would count as progress.

Next: About That Running Game ...