|ESPN.com: BlogsColumns||[Print without images]|
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- It's tough not to draw the connection. A happier, looser Jay Cutler is a better Jay Cutler. Or maybe it's that a better Jay Cutler is happier and looser.
Either way, Cutler is on the radio, on Twitter and on his game, both verbally and football-wise this week, all very good things for the Chicago Bears.
|After his first game as a Bear without being sacked on Monday, Jay Cutler has a lot to smile about these days.|
And very entertaining for the rest of us.
When a reporter asked Cutler at his Wednesday news conference if it was true that he had the nicest butt in the NFL, it signaled a real benchmark in the quarterback's career with the Bears.
He laughed along with everyone else.
"According to one person," he responded with perfect comic timing. "I think she's biased."
It was a reference to his on-again girlfriend Kristin Cavillari's tweet before Monday night's game in Philadelphia wishing good luck "to the man with the best butt in football."
This was not exactly akin to Roy Firestone getting Barry Bonds to cry, but getting Cutler to laugh and smile, really genuinely smile, is a sign that the quarterback is having a good time, something he was definitely doing against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night. And something that generally has something to do with Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
We all know that Martz loves Cutler. But we also know that Cutler has lost patience with Martz until that magical bye week, something that has helped the Bears enormously the past two seasons -- last year in getting Martz to run the ball more than never and this past week in evidently finding common ground with his quarterback.
"It's so much more fun, just going out there and playing with those guys and being able to execute the offense and have some fun and be creative," Cutler free-versed Wednesday. "That's what it's all about."
That, and having right tackle Lance Louis and the offensive line playing at a very high level aided by Martz keeping the tight ends in and having Matt Forte chip occasionally. It also certainly didn't hurt getting Cutler's favorite target, Earl Bennett, back in the lineup.
"It was good to see him back there and the way he responded and the way he played, hopefully we can keep getting him the ball and finding ways of getting him open," Cutler said. "Earl's got a feel for when things are going to happen and when they're not going to. I'm glad to get him out there again."
Cutler is nothing if not honest. And as his other receivers continue to drop passes and otherwise prove unreliable, we can further appreciate Bennett's immense value right now.
"It takes time," Cutler said. "I've been with Earl for a long time. I've thrown a lot of balls at him. I'm getting there with a lot of those guys, Johnny [Knox] and Devin [Hester] and even Roy [Williams] and those guys, so we're getting there. It doesn't happen overnight though."
Bennett's fourth-quarter touchdown reception from Cutler was supposed to be a shovel pass, Bennett revealed after the game. "But Jay really read the defense well and saw me break out and threw me a perfect pass," he said.
Cutler said he's getting rid of the ball quicker. But he is also throwing more on-balance and using his athleticism in a way we haven't seen with any regularity since he was a Denver Bronco. The fact that he stayed upright in the Bears' first of 32 games without a sack was also a help.
"It's nice," Cutler said. "I was thinking about halfway through the game, 'Let's not jinx this yet.' I wasn't going to say anything but it was looking pretty good."
Having the week off to huddle with Martz obviously helped.
"We both agreed what direction we needed to go to make this offense go," Cutler said on Wednesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "I think Mike has done an unbelievable job of adapting to what we're capable of doing and changing his train of thought, which isn't easy to do.
"We just took a look at what we're doing and what we're doing [well], and Mike has done a good job of responding."
So has Cutler.
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.