Shortly after he was hired earlier this offseason, Chicago Bears quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh sidestepped questions about Jay Cutler's viability as a franchise quarterback. Cavanaugh believed it was premature to offer an opinion before meeting Cutler and dissecting the game film.
Now that he's had a chance for a full evaluation, Cavanaugh is "very impressed" by what he's seen and heard from Cutler.
"He's borderline football brilliant," Cavanaugh said Tuesday, via the Chicago Tribune's Dan Pompei. "I think he gets it. I think he knows the game. I think he knows offensive schemes. I think he knows defenses."
While Cavanaugh predictably rates Cutler's arm on par with Joe Flacco, Randall Cunningham and Phil Simms as the best he's ever been around, it does come as a surprise that a quarterback riddled with footwork, ball-handling and decision-making issues now is being heralded as a football savant.
After toiling in quarterback purgatory under Lovie Smith, Cutler is fortunate to be working with Cavanaugh and new head coach Marc Trestman as he enters a make-or-break contract season. As 2002 NFL MVP Rich Gannon notes, Trestman has the Midas touch as a play-caller and quarterback guru.
It's the time of the year for unbridled optimism. Cutler is far from a sure bet for a quarterbacking epiphany that finally will vault him into the league's elite, but the new coaching staff is pleased with what it has seen so far.
"I'm excited for him, and I think he's excited," Cavanaugh said. "In the short period of time we've been here, I've seen him embrace what we're trying to get done and want to be a big part of it."
Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.