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Jay Cutler was sacked 38 times in 2012. While it wasn't the most in his career -- he was sacked 52 times in 2010 -- it still was way too many. It led to a concussion and missing time on the field. It's also the reason why one of Marc Trestman's most important jobs is to figure out a way to protect him.
Trestman has shown an ability to improve protections in the past. The Montreal Alouettes gave up 68 the year before Trestman showed up. The next year? 22. Protecting Cutler was so important on Trestman's list that he talked about it during his press conference.
"We've got to take care of that precious football with each and every man that has the opportunity to touch it," Trestman said. "We've got to play smart, multi-dimensional football that's going to attack the field like all the best teams in this league, and we've got to be tough and physical with our mindset whether it's run or pass."
It will be tough with the personnel in place.
Gabe Carimi, the first round draft pick from 2011, struggled on his return from injury. J'Marcus Webb has improved but still gave up too many sacks and penalties. Lance Louis will be returning from an injury.
So even with the best protection schemes in the world in place, Trestman and general manager Phil Emery have to look at what's available in the draft. Draft prospects Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher have stood out at the Senior Bowl. It could be worth a trade for the Bears to move up and snag one of these prospects.
No matter what they do, the Bears have to be creative to keep Cutler safe. Otherwise, their new offense will be stopped before it's even started.