The Bears 33-28 victory over the Chargers in their second preseason game was a microcosm of all that is wrong with, frustrating and maddening about Jay Cutler.
The second and fourth possessions which ended in Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte touchdowns appeared to offer proof that the improved talent on this offense will make it a more explosive and a more productive unit.
The pick Cutler threw on the Bears third possession was the kind of play Cutler has made repeatedly since he arrived in Chicago, the kind of play that will get you beat.
Will the real Jay Cutler please stand up, or has he been right in front of our eyes all along? Is Marc Trestman really the quarterback whisperer who can turn Cutler into the NFL's next $100 million man, or are Cutler's issues the kind that even Freud and Wonderlic would take a pass on?
I have been reporting on and analyzing football for longer than I care to admit – who wants to be as old as I am? I have seen every great quarterback from Montana to Rodgers, Fouts to Favre, Young to Brees, Marino to Manning and all the rest and I've seen a few as physically gifted as Cutler, but none more so. So why has he been so average?
In his post game interview I tried to give Cutler a soft place to land, asking him if the pick was a missed read on his part or if he's just too confident in Brandon Marshall and tried to force the ball in. He answered "Yeah I didn't misread it, I knew what I was doing. I kind of got clipped and I let it go but those are the ones you've kind of got to check them down after you see what's there."
Cutler has at times taken a beating for his attitude and I really don't want to go there again. But if he didn't misread it and "knew what he was doing" why would he make that throw? The truth is he probably doesn't know why, or how to stop it. Is it actually quite possible he's not a bad guy at all and he'd answer me if he could?
Trestman indicated he wanted to share responsibility with Cutler for the play saying he has to coach it better. So I asked him, knowing that Cutler is an eight-year veteran prone to that particular mistake, what is the coaching technique you use to correct it?
"I don't know enough about the logistics of that on the field in the past, but the way you go about it is you continue to work at it, we're just gonna work at it," Trestman said. "That specific play was a force against a coverage that I think I can coach better, I really do."
In other words, Trestman's going to give it everything he has but at the moment he has no answer either, or if he does he's not sharing it.
Are we to believe that before Trestman, Mike Shanahan, Lovie Smith, Ron Turner, Mike Martz and Mike Tice never suggested to Cutler it might be unwise to try and force a ball into a bracketed receiver in double coverage and that's why all those bad things have happened until now, and that's why they're about to get better?
It is fair to point out Cutler's had a zillion different coaches and schemes to learn, at times his mechanics are shaky, his offensive lines have stunk and his receivers have been marginally better. That's all true, but none of it is the problem. And you can forget all the other drama about who he is or why.
The bottom line is Cutler has everything he needs to be great and to make the players around him better but too often he throws balls he should never throw into places they should never go. The Bears can't win big unless he stops it, and at this point we have no idea how that's going to stop or reason to believe it will.
• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.