Bernie Kosar on Jay Cutler: ‘I wish I had 80 percent of his arm’

The first thing Bernie Kosar noticed about Jay Cutler was the first thing everyone sees.

“I wish,” Kosar said, “I had 80 percent of that arm.”

The rest of the scouting report, though, is rooted in subtlety only a man with 13 years of NFL experience can appreciate.

After visiting the Bears’ organized team activities Wednesday as a guest of mentor Marc Trestman, the former Pro Bowler seemed even more impressed with Cutler’s ability to know when not to uncork a blazing fastball.

“He has amazing sense of timing and touch,” said the former No. 1
overall draft pick. “You see on a couple of plays out there. His ability to sometimes have, almost, it’s like an innate ability to judge about how to throw it.
“When to throw the fastball. When to hitch. When to throw it with a little bit of touch — with a little loft to get it up and down before the safeties get over — is really impressive.”

Cutler has a command of the huddle, Kosar said, and audibles with aplomb.

And then there’s his feet.

“I used to joke with Dan Marino,” said Kosar, who backed up the Dolphins great from 1994-96 after spending most his career as the Browns’ starter. “Dan had an amazing presence within the pocket, being able to move from me to you, finding that weak spot, finding that kind of opportunity and openness.

“It’s just, [Cutler] feels the pressure, and just that subtle little step or two that he’s able to take to get away. He’s really impressive.”

The Bears’ other four quarterbacks have noticed.

Jerrod Johnson is amazed how Cutler still works on his fundamentals, from making sure he has a deep knee bend to following through on his throws to other basics the coaching staff preaches.

“For me as a young quarterback, he’s been tremendous for me,” said Johnson, who is competing alongside Jordan Palmer, Jimmy Clausen and rookie David Fales for the backup job. “The things coach Trestman says, he really applies it, and you can see his play go up as well.”

The five quarterbacks huddled up with Kosar for about an hour before practice and made dinner plans for later that night. Clausen said he was fortunate to “just learn from one of the great quarterbacks in the past.”

Kosar said he might be interesting in coaching one day — “Football’s in your blood; Once you start, it’s like this is part of your DNA,” — but was careful not to step on the toes of Trestman, offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer or quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh.

“I’m kinda sitting back and waiting to see how it’s going,” Kosar said.

Asked about Kosar, Johnson smiled and rattled off practice guests ranging from Mike Ditka to Mike Singletary.

“Coach Trestman,” he said, “has some cool friends.”

Few go back farther than Kosar.

The two met when Trestman was a volunteer assistant at the University of Miami and Kosar was a highly touted freshman.

They won the 1983 national championship together, Trestman having been promoted to quarterbacks coach.

They reunited in the pros with Trestman coaching Kosar for two years in Cleveland. With Trestman as the offensive coordinator in 1989, the Browns reached the AFC championship.

Kosar is the godfather to Trestman’s oldest daughter, Sarahanne.

Kosar said he was proud of the comfort level Trestman has achieved — and the respect he receives from players — in only his second year.

“You can see the camaraderie, almost a family-type atmosphere they have here within the building and within the team,” Kosar said. “It’s really impressive to watch.”

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