The key to Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is whether he'll be better at the end of the season than he was at the beginning.
The fit at Halas Hall might be as unfit as Orlando Pace in pants with a 32-inch waist. Giving Cutler's tools to this Bears' coaching staff might be like giving surgical instruments to a slaughterhouse.
The Bears didn't acquire a finished product from the Broncos in April. Cutler needs to be tutuored and the Bears haven't exactly been Quarterback U. over the decades.
It's not that the Bears haven't had anyone with exceptional skills since the Truman Administration. It's that they wouldn't have known what to do with him since they thrilled the nation with the T-formation during, what, the Lincoln Administration?
Seriously, dropping Cutler into Lake Forest was like dropping Tiger Woods onto a tennis court. When he wakes up he'll wonder what he's doing there.
Every Bears head coach but one the past 35 years came from the defensive side of the ball. Mike Ditka, the exception, was a special-teams coach in Dallas.
There's something floating around in the water at Halas Hall that seems to breed disdain for offense. That isn't the best environment in which to place a quarterback with Cutler's potential.
Yes, it's still potential - very good with a shot at great.
Joe Montana and Steve Young studied under Bill Walsh in San Francisco. John Elway did post-graduate work under Mike Shanahan in Denver. Brett Favre earned multiple degrees under Mike Holmgren in Green Bay.
Those are just a few examples of a thrower being fortunate enough to land with a head coach fascinated by the science of offense and art of quarterbacking.
Bill Belichick said something interesting during the Super Bowl week in which an inexperienced Tom Brady introduced himself to the world.
The Patriots' head coach, whose specialty is defense, mentioned matter-of-factly that he began working with the offense when Brady had to replace the injured Drew Bledsoe early that season.
Does anybody think Bears head coach Lovie Smith could do what Belichick did? Has he ever said anything more profound about offense than, "Rex is our quarterback"?
The impression is that Smith, especially now that he's calling the defensive signals, turns over the offense to coordinator Ron Turner.
During his first three NFL seasons in Denver, Cutler was coached up to a Pro Bowl level by Shanahan.
After that, how much respect is Cutler going to have for Turner's limited NFL accomplishments? How often will he assume he learned more with the Broncos than the coaches here know? How coachable is he going to be in that environment?
That's in addition to playing here with a mediocre offensive line and a regressing running game, two areas Denver usually excelled in.
Anyway, all parties seem to be stuck with each other. Cutler is a Bear for the long term. Smith's won-loss record is too good to dispatch for, say, Shanahan. Turner is too entrenched to go anywhere.
The question is whether this odd trio can fit well enough for Cutler to be all he can be as the season and decade proceed.