Bears Training Camp: Cutler’s progress taking backseat to backup competition

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“We asked one hundred Bears fans what’s the biggest storyline surrounding the Bears quarterback position.

Top five answers are on the board.

Survey SAYS…

Okay, it’s not exactly a game of Family Feud, but while gauging the interest level in the quarterback position heading into Year 2 of the Marc Trestman era, the majority of the focus is surrounding who will be replacing the departed Josh McCown as the primary backup to starter Jay Cutler.

Such is life in the Windy City, where the backup quarterback is still one of the most popular men in town.

There’s a lot of concern over Cutler’s health, and I can understand why. While starting all 16 games in his first year with the Bears in 2009, Cutler suffered behind a porous offensive line for too many seasons. He missed one game each in 2010 and 2012, six games in 2011 and five games last year.

During Cutler’s absence last year, McCown filled in admirably and garnered a lot of love from Bears fans. So much so that a large contingent of Bears fans wanted the Bears to re-sign McCown for a cheap deal and let Cutler walk in free agency, not really taking into consideration McCown’s advanced age and Cutler’s superior ability.

Now, of course, with McCown in Tampa Bay the talk of Chicago is who will play the McCown role? Who will play savior when Cutler goes down with an injury? Will it be Jordan Palmer? Jimmy Clausen? David Fales?

All of that is white noise to me. The real plot to follow in training camp is what kind of progress Cutler will make from Year 1 to Year 2 in Trestman’s offense. Players and teams tend to make their biggest improvements from their first go around to their second, because the first attempt is such a learning process. And given how well Cutler played when he was healthy last year, there’s room for a lot of optimism that he’ll make great strides in his second season in this offense. So much so that Cutler was given the sixth-best odds to win the 2014 MVP award by sports betting site Bovada.

Cutler will continue to be a polarizing player. He’s a strong-willed, confident person, and those types of personalities tend to rub some the wrong way and cloud judgment. But there’s proof in the pudding that he and Trestman have had — and will continue to have — sustained offensive success.

As long as he can stay on the field.

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