- Associated Press - Thursday, October 17, 2013

LAKE FOREST, ILL. (AP) - New Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman was trying to learn all he could about quarterback Jay Cutler in the early going.

So why not ask Mike Shanahan?

Trestman had a chance at the NFL combine this past spring and took advantage. Now, Cutler’s having his best season in years, and the Bears are tied for the NFC North lead heading into Sunday’s game against Shanahan’s Washington Redskins.

How good has Cutler been?

His rating this season is 95.2, compared to 84.0 for his career coming into this season, and it’s been below 90 in just one game so far. With 1,630 yards, he’s on pace to throw for 4,347.

He has 12 touchdown passes and six interceptions, the best ratio of his career, and it looks like the Bears are getting the answer they wanted to one of the biggest questions coming into the season: Can Trestman get the most out of his quarterback?

So far, the answer appears to be yes.

Trestman had a few questions of his own for Shanahan, who coached Cutler in Denver. It was a short but encouraging conversation.

“We talked in generalities, and basically Mike said, `You’re really going to enjoy working with Jay. He’s a smart guy, he wants to work, he wants to learn. He’s coachable,’” Trestman said. “It wasn’t a long conversation, but it was reassuring to hear it from him. And I didn’t have any reason to think that he wasn’t going to tell me exactly what he thought because I’ve never known him to do anything other than that.”

Shanahan said his experience was “nothing but positive.”

“I’m a big fan of Jay Cutler‘s,” he added.

Shanahan was Denver’s coach when the Broncos drafted Cutler out Vanderbilt with the 11th pick in 2006, and the quarterback with the rifle arm put up the biggest numbers of his career under him.

After starting five games as a rookie, he threw for 3,497 yards in 2007 and topped that the following year by throwing for 4,526.

Then, Shanahan got fired. Cutler clashed with new coach Josh McDaniels and wound up getting traded to Chicago before the 2009 season.

With the Bears, it hasn’t been the smoothest ride. There were issues with the supporting cast, particularly when it came to protection, and big questions over whether he is actually coachable.

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