Jay Cutler's right. "It's hard to go out there Year 1 and blow the doors off," offensively. So asking him and the Bears to do that in 2013 simply isn't fair; especially considering Cutler is learning his fourth offense in five years.
What's fair however, are expectations for a markedly better campaign this season than any other Cutler has been a part of as a Chicago Bear. Why? It's contract time, first of all. Set to earn $8.47 million on a deal that expires after 2013, Cutler needs to make everything the Bears invested -- in terms of personnel acquisition, and coaches -- pay off for the front office if he expects the club to sink even more money into him as the quarterback of the future.
Petulance with the media, whispers of Cutler not speaking to teammates or coaches, any perceived personality flaw can be excused as long as the quarterback performs on the field.
To do that, he'll need to take in the coaching of Marc Trestman, quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, and apply it to take full advantage of all the weapons and upgrades at his disposal; even when things go bad. Certainly it's impressive that Brandon Marshall hauled in 118 passes last season considering opponents devoted a considerable amount of their game plans to stop him. But with Cutler targeting Marshall so often, surely other receivers had to be open on occasion. In 2013, Cutler needs to hit them. He needs to distribute the ball to ensure the offense runs like a slick machine the offensive staff is in the process of building.
General manager Phil Emery and Trestman have talked on multiple occasions about Cutler realizing his football mortality and his desire to finish up his career as the quarterback he's capable of being. Up to this point, we've seen flashes of brilliance, glimmers of elite quarterbacking from Cutler. But not enough to say unequivocally he deserves a new deal that would handcuff him to the franchise for another five years.
Cutler's correct that it's difficult to "go out there Year 1 and blow the doors off." But for him to make it to Year 2, 3, 4 or 5 in this new offense, he'll have to do something pretty close to it.