Jay Cutler has always had the physical tools to be an elite NFL quarterback, but injuries over the past two seasons with the Chicago Bears, including a fairly fluky thumb injury that ended his season early in 2011, have derailed that progress and led to concern that he will never be among the league's elite signal callers.
Offensive line play has been a particular issue for the Bears in Cutler's time with the team, as he has been sacked 110 times in three seasons (including a league-high 52 times in 2010).
But there is reason for hope that Cutler and the Bears can have a prolific offense in 2012, with an offseason trade bringing in a legit No. 1 wide receiver in Brandon Marshall, the free agent signing of running back Michael Bush to add depth there and rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery being drafted in the second round.
With that as a launch point, here are some reasons why I feel Jay Cutler will take a big step toward becoming one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks in 2012.