Chicago Sun-Times

Passing fancy: Erik Kramer talks Cutler, wide receivers

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BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--Had a nice chat with Erik Kramer last week and we talked about the Bears' offense and Jay Cutler and the explosive offense he headed up back in 1995 in offensive coordinator Ron Turner's first stint with the organization.

Here is the entire conversation:

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON JAY CUTLER JOINING THE BEARS?

I went ahead and when Jay got traded to the Bears I went ahead and got film of every game he played last year. I've been watching it and as far as just his quarterbacking ability, the Bears have never had anybody close to him. That's as far as the things he can do on the field, the throws he can make, the way he moves around, he is a phenomenal athlete. He's a phenomenal athlete that is a great quarterback. There are not too many guys that move around the line of scrimmage at quarterback that are as good as he is as a quarterback. He's a true passer who happens to be an exceptional athlete.

ARE YOU STUDYING CUTLER JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE DOING THE PRESEASON BROADCASTS FOR FOX-32, OR IS IT FOR YOUR QUARTERBACK TRAINING?

Both. I train guys getting ready to come out of high school and train guys coming out of college, so I try to look at everything. In terms of the whole package, what you see on the field, to me he is as good as it gets. The one thing I would say is that his decision making sometimes could be a little bit better. Maybe that is something that comes through with age and experience. Part of it, I believe, is it's part of Jay's makeup. Guys that are that talented, I can only imagine what would be going through their head because I have never been that way. A guy like me had to rely on precise reads and placing the ball where it needed to be placed. A guy like Jay can get away with some throws where that is not necessarily the case. He can be a little late on some throws and still make them work. I would love to see Jay be a little more detailed in the way he reads things and be a little more disciplined in the way he moves from one receiver to the next. That's in looking at him on film, but I've got to tell you first that he is by far, he's in a present elite category. I can't think of a lot of guys out there who can do what he does. Now, I think the thing so far, when you look at Tom Brady and Peyton Manning and the guys that are in that group that have won Super Bowls, looking at them as quarterbacks, they're players that have supreme command of what they're doing out there. With Jay, it still remains to be seen but the Bears are working with an incredible piece of clay.

YOU GUYS HAD SOME REALLY NICE RECEIVERS, A COUPLE REALLY GOOD TARGETS IN JEFF GRAHAM AND CURTIS CONWAY. HOW WILL IT WORK FOR CUTLER BECAUSE HE DOESN'T HAVE A GRAHAM OR CONWAY RIGHT NOW WHEN YOU LOOK AT THIS TEAM?

He just came from a team with the three guys they had, Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal and Tony Sheffler, the tight end. I think any time your quarterback is as talented as Jay is, he is going to make other people around him better. That is just kind of a standard thing people say but I think it's true. He can make things happen that other guys can't make happen. He's a dual threat. He's fast. He gets away from a lot of rushes. He extends plays. He makes that pocket go from number to number, not hash to hash so he puts an extremely high amount of pressure on defense. The receivers are going to be better with him at quarterback than they would be with most any other quarterback. Obviously, you have to have the whole thing fit. This is a precise game, the more precise you are and the better he can trust his receivers, the better the whole thing is going to be. But what he has here that he didn't have in Denver was an exceptional running back. I don't know to the agree, but the tight ends he is working with are in that ballpark too. I think he is going to make the offensive line better and they have to find something out there at receiver that is going to work.

Here is what you have to have, you have to have somebody. If you look at Eddie Royal, Eddie Royal, all these guys do not go in the same category, Isaac Bruce, Jeff Graham, Eddie Royal, Bobby Engram, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, all those guys are smart and efficient and know how to use and know how to work against a DB at the top of the route and know how to get themselves in position because the most critical thing for a route runner is that his quarterback can read what he is about to do. And the only places that happens is at the line of scrimmage, so if you're in press coverage your guy has to get himself in a position where the quarterback can predict he is going to have a chance later on. Then, at the breaking point, the quarterback has got to be able to read what he is doing and trust him. You trust a guy if he is always in the right spot. Jeff Graham was always in the right spot. Bobby Engram was always in the right spot. They were incredible route runners. Rickey Proehl. Ricky and Bobby were more inside guys because they didn't have quite the speed and the size. There has got to be somebody over there that the defense has to pay attention to and that's when Sheffler gets a lot of stuff because the whole field gets cleared out. Don't forget Jay, he buys a lot of time for these guys. They have to find somebody who Jay can rely on for different things. That's what they're going to get to find out. There isn't a complete guy and there aren't a lot of complete guys in the league. Brandon Marshall is not a tremendous route runner and he's not working hard all the time. Eddie Royal never takes a play off but he has to play that way. If he ever stopped on a play, he'd be dead. Brandon Marshall, you can just throw a ball out to him and he's going to swat the DB off him if he feels like it. You have to have guys for different situations.

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10 Comments

"The Bears are working with an incredible piece of clay." Kramer broke down the film and told us what he saw. Even though most of us new or at least thought we new what the Bears were getting, we don't have access to the film Kramer saw and the trained eye he has. This is like the icing on the cake for me! Nice uniform too! Go Bears! Go Cutler!

Great insight from Kramer. He was the best Bears QB I watched growing up (Jim Miller had one nice season, too). Glad to hear such high praise for Cutler

Exciting times with Cutler winging the rock. Still would like the Bears to find one NFL veteran wide receiver and get him on board. The Bears receivers are just too young to be counted on consistently. They will probably be fine for the regular season but when the post season hits the Bears need a NFL proven vet that can make the clutch catch 3-4 times during a game.

I would love to say that the Bears receiver group is just fine and it may turn out to be pretty good overall. Just need that veteran receiver from whom the new rookies can learn and prosper as a result.

The receiver needs to not be a selfish player like Muhammed but rather a player that can teach the rookies(through example and work habits) and play at a playoff level. Even one or two years would be sufficient to get the current crop of receivers the experience they need to succeed, not just compete.

Erik Kramer was the last legit passer Chicago had, now, don't get me wrong, I still think Kyle Orton could have developed into a pretty good passer much like Kramer was. But that season Kramer had for Chicago back in 95 was something special. To bad the defense left something to be desired back then, oh well. I think Denver will be happy with Orton, I'd take him over Matt Cassel any day. Orton would have been Matt Cassel had he been in New England with Moss and co. But....Cutler is still hands down better than any of them, glad Angelo made the move in the off-season for ol Jay.

Kramer does brings up a lot of good points about Cutler, especially when he said "He gets away from a lot of rushes. He extends plays." That ability alone is what will set Cutler apart from your average quarterback. Not only does Cutler have an arm that is out of this world, but his ability to buy time in the pocket will help the receivers and offensive linemen out big time. Cutlers arm and ability to buy time in the pocket will make offensive coordinator Ron Turner look better also GO BEARS!!

Great blog and interesting comments. Indeed it is good to hear an analyst like Kramer make glowing comments about Cutler, even though he equivocates a bit about the decision-making. I am really looking forward to this season. I think the Bear management has done everything right this year, and a lot of Bear players will be wearing Super Bowl rings.

Kramer;
`but I've got to tell you first that he is by far, he's in a present elite category. I can't think of a lot of guys out there who can do what he does. Now, I think the thing so far, when you look at Tom Brady and Peyton Manning and the guys that are in that group that have won Super Bowls, looking at them as quarterbacks'...

WOW!
Is that a comparison??? Is that what I thought I read??? It does not surprise me, as I have looked at as many games Cutler had last year as possible and I have to say, I was amazed at Cutler's QB abilities - to avoid the rusher and still read the field and put the exact right touch on his pass.
I saw on NFL show the guys said that the Cutler trade was the biggest item heading into the season (?) correct me if I saw that wrong...buts anyways what they were saying also was Da Bears! grabbing Pace as LT was one of the biggest FA signings as well, to go along with Cutler...
This MUST BE BIZARRO WORLD! This is not possible that media is talking about Da Bears in this fasion!!! WOW
I like the way Kevin put it as well, `buying time in the pocket'
but that is not only what he is doing...(as Kevin already knows) he is looking at the right WR and knowing exactly what touch, how long/short his pass has to be to hit that WR/TE/RB correctly, all the while `buying time in the pocket' Now that is truly a unique QB ability, one we see in a Manning/Brady for real! (yeop, I put their names in the correct order Eric) cmon, no way Manning takes a second name place to Brady
Manning is the only QB I would rather have beat Da in that SB game, the greatest QB in our time. The one who deserved a ring more than any other.

I still wish we would have won though :) but he should have went against the league and worn black shoes to honor Unitas - like he wanted to.

By Kevin Armstead on August 2, 2009 9:47 AM
"Erik Kramer was the last legit passer Chicago had, now, don't get me wrong, I still think Kyle Orton could have developed into a pretty good passer much like Kramer was."

Kevin when are you going to come to terms with the fact that Orton had a weak arm, was inaccurate, made bad reads and his audibles were brutal. The Bears kept Orton from making reads as much as they could because he can't make reads. How often did you see him go through his progressions? It was usually 3 steps turn and fire as hard as he could and as quick as he could to his first reciever in a play, if that reciever was not open he would go to his check down. Why do you think Forte caught so many passes?. That right there tells you Orton went to his safety valve more than his recievers, that is a bad thing. His idea of buying time was running backwards and trying to throw off his back foot. If the Broncos like him so much why has he not been given a new contract? He is on a 1 year plan. You should not compare Orotn to a legit QB like Kramer, it's an insult to him.

Paul remember one Thing about Cutler, he is only in his third year starting and 4th year in the league he is all of 25. People used to say the same thing about Manning, if your not on the east coast your QB will get nick picked to death. Cutler makes a mistake every now and then or a bad choice. Name a QB in NFL history you can't say that about. Well, all except Brady, who ESPN insists is the greatest QB of all time, how often do they go after him. Even though he has an average arm and is not mobile at all. Even though he has one of the best O-Lines in football during his career and the best offensive system in football and the best coach in football. I swear if ESPN could, every time they show a clip of Brady it would be to the Queen theme song for Flash Gordon, with Brady dubbed in over the name Flash. The guy went to his first Super Bowl on bad call for crying out loud. Manning can't win the big one, remember that? Favre takes to many chances and will never win the big one? Remember that. They said Elway would never win a super bowl in Denver. Believe me if Cutler was on the Giants he would be considered god on ESPN. The sporst media are just as biased as the rest of us. They all have there favorite teams and players. Just look at Brad, he's a writer but he is a Bears fan, don't think he doesn't put them in a special place and don't think when Cutler came to town he wasn't running around his yard throwing a football to himself screaming "Cutler to Biggs" TOUCH DOWN!!!"

Hey Brad what about the Jim Miller interview? That is way more interesting. Miller who bashed the trade and Cutler and talked about how much he liked Orton and how the Bears should not have done the trade. Actually has the nerve to interview the guy and kiss his @ss the whole time.

Great insight. Great Blog Biggs!

Time to fire that pathetic Mariottiwannabe McNeil and hire Creighton for the spot.

After 25 years as a die hard Broncos fan I am switching over to the Bears this year. One reason - Cutler, he has the potential to be better than Elway was and Denver screwed things up bad. Bears will be fun to watch just like Elway was for so many years !

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on August 2, 2009 5:51 AM.

CB Zack Bowman continues to draw rave reviews was the previous entry in this blog.

Passing fancy II: From one ex-Bears quarterback to another is the next entry in this blog.

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