Ex-OC stresses patience with Jay Cutler
CHICAGO -- Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks coach Ron Turner spent one forgettable season with Jay Cutler as offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, but Turner believes patience and a stronger supporting cast will help Cutler develop his obvious talents.
Acquired from the Denver Broncos in a multi-player deal prior to the 2009 season, Cutler threw a career-high 26 interceptions and posted a career worst 76.8 passer rating as the Bears finished 7-9.
Turner was fired immediately following the season.
Cutler's play improved this past season under the guidance of new offensive coordinator Mike Martz, but the quarterback had a few memorably bad moments, including the first half of the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field.
"I don't want to get too much into [Cutler's two seasons in Chicago], other than to say you just got to give him time and get him surrounded by good people, which they're doing," Turner said Wednesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "But you just got to give him time, it takes time for everybody. We all know the talent that he has, and I think it shows on the field."
Turner was candid in stressing the importance of having a No. 1 receiver. He spent the 2010 season overseeing the Colts' wideouts, working every day with perennial Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne. During his second stint in Chicago (2004-09), Turner never had a receiver make the Pro Bowl -- Johnny Knox made it in 2010 as a kick returner.
"I don't think [you can win at a high level without a receiver like Wayne]," Turner said. "It would be really, really difficult. You have to have that guy you know you can go to, a guy that's going to be there every game for you, making big plays. You have to have that. If you have that, it takes so much pressure off the other guys and enables you to run the ball.
"If you have a guy like that, it alters your defensive gameplan a little bit."
Besides failing to protect the football, the 2009 Bears offense was unable to muster much of a ground game. Coming off a successful rookie season, running back Matt Forte averaged only 3.6 yards per carry during an injury plagued year.
A healthy Forte averaged nearly a yard more per carry and eclipsed 1,600 all-purpose yards the year after Turner's dismissal.
"Oh, I think [Forte's injuries] did factor in, no question about it," Turner said. "I'm happy for the success he had this year. I did have a chance to see those guys several times and I was happy that Matt was playing the way we know he's capable of playing.
"In 2009, Matt's got a lot of pride and he's a tough guy, so he tried to go out there and play, but he just didn't have the burst. He just wasn't healthy. I think toward the end of the year he started to get healthy. But when you have a guy like that, now they're going to commit to stopping the run and it opens up the outside. His receiving ability gives you so much more flexibility, things that you want to do and were able to do with him. When he was hurt you just couldn't do them. But when he's healthy and playing like he's playing, it makes everyone else around him better and opens up some other things."
Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.
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