I was going to write something as a follow up to my earlier Dane Sanzenbacher article in the comment thread of that particular post. But the more I thought about it I figured it might get a little long winded, so why not drop a little something on the front page. This way we can continue the Great Sanzenbacher debate of 2012.
Whether you choose to believe it or not, Sanzenbacher is still squarely on the bubble with the Chicago Bears, mainly due to a numbers crunch. He figures to be a 6th wide out, the Bears may not keep a 6th wide out. Many of the pro-Sanzy arguments center around Jay Cutler's fondness for the "2nd fastest wide receiver at the 2011 combine in the 3-cone drill and 3rd in the shuttle", but if you follow me below the fold I'll point out why their possible friendship should have little to do with his sticking on the 53 man roster.
The Bears unquestionably believe in their franchise quarterback They gave him an extension shortly after making the trade for him, and I wouldn't be surprised to see his current deal, which runs through 2013, redone in the near future. This is Jay's team. The Bears have done plenty to show their faith in Jay, and some new paper will highlight that even more.
After Cutler's first year under play caller Ron Turner, the Bears turned to the Mike Martz offense, hoping to recreate some form of the "Greatest Show On Turf" magic. While the Martzfense era is widely considered to be a failure, let me point out the Bears did play in the NFC Title game under his O, and they were 7-3 before Cutler went down with a thumb injury last year. Talking from a purely statistical standpoint, Cutler did improve under Martz. Their relationship was fractured at times, highlighted by the infamous Prime Time F-Bomb, and it was time for a change.
Even though Martz was the one that announced he was leaving the Bears, I doubt he was going to come back for a 3rd year in Chicago. But the Bears didn't want to ask Cutler to learn an entire new system, so they promoted Mike Tice to offensive coordinator, with the thinking that he would keep some of the terminology intact. To make things even better for the franchise QB, the Bears brought in his former QB coach Jeremy Bates. Cutler and Bates, along with the Mike Shanahan system, was responsible for the 2008 Pro Bowl season that Jay engineered while a Bronco.
Bates would even be allowed to incorporate some of the Denver stuff that Jay had success with into the new Tice offense. Along with the new offense comes the ability to audible, something Cutler has to be ecstatic about. Cutler even has an open enough relationship with Tice that he's able to give his input into the new O. The entire offense is being built around what Jay Cutler likes.
To help Jay out even more, the Bears brought in another person from his past, his good friend Brandon Marshall. The Cutler to Marshall connection could be one of the more feared combos in the NFL. They have a proven track record working together, and they have great chemistry on the field.
Sometimes lost in all the BFF Marshall stuff is Cutler's buddy from his Vanderbilt days, wide receiver Earl Bennett. The Cutler to Bennett connection was working out pretty good the last few years, and they have a legit chemistry bith on and off the field as well. In '09 and '10 Bennett averaged 50 receptions and 639 yards a season, and in '11 he and Jay were on a mini tear before the week 11 thumb injury ended Jay's season.
So to recap what the Bears have done for Jay lately; The new offense is being built around his strengths. He basically has a hand picked QB coach to help install stuff he likes to run. And his good friends Brandon Marshall and Earl Bennett will be catching passes from him this year.
I also failed to mention that the tight end, a position Jay has comfort throwing to, is back in vogue. And that the Bears traded up to nab 6'3" wide out Alshon Jeffery to give Jay yet another weapon. Unfortunately the one offensive area that the Bears didn't seriously upgrade is the one area that could see Cutler on his back. The offensive line.
So you'll excuse me if I don't buy into the reasoning that the bond formed between Sanzenbacher and Cutler will be enough to force Lovie Smith and Phill Emery to keep Dane around. If he somehow makes the 53 man roster it'll because the Bears decided to go with 6 WRs and that they think he can bring more to the table than Rashied Davis.
Yep... That did get a little long winded...