Cutler knows it takes time, a lot of work on the field and studying of the playbook to master any system. The big difference this time is he's been given more talented personnel than in the past.
Specifically, the addition of free agent tight end Martellus Bennett could be enormous. His ability to be an impact player in the passing game, protect the quarterback and pave the way for the run game has shown that Bennett will speed the learning curve of mastering another offense.
"There are only so many different things you can do on a football field," said Cutler, who has operated offenses coordinated by Ron Turner, Mike Martz, Mike Tice and now Aaron Kromer. "Kromer and everyone else involved, and (coach) Marc (Trestman) have a great understanding of how to get guys open, how to protect the football, how to open up gaps in the run game.
"Right now we're just kind of trying to learn the basics of the offense. It's a three-year process to learn an offense. It just is what it is. It takes time. It's hard to go out there in Year One and blow the doors off."
But it might be easier because of his supporting cast.
In addition to Bennett, free agency also brought Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod and left guard Matt Slauson to an offense buoyed by Cutler, record-setting wide receiver Brandon Marshall and do-it-all running back Matt Forte.
"This is the most competitive locker room I've ever been in, talent-wise (and) speed-wise," Cutler said. "We've got some guys in there who can really play football, and we've got a lot of them, which is a good thing. It's going to be tough when it comes down to cuts to see exactly how it shakes out."
The Bears finished their final minicamp with practices Wednesday and Thursday (June 12-13) at Halas Hall and then enjoy a six-week break before training camp opens at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais. In late July, Cutler and the offense will continue incorporating the tight end into the passing game, something the Bears lacked the past two seasons.
The 6-6, 265-pound Bennett is coming off a career year in 2012, when he caught 55 passes for 626 yards and five touchdowns with the Giants.
"The thing about him is, he wants to be great," Cutler said. "He doesn't want to be (just) good. So every day he comes out here working. He's always asking us questions of what he can do better, how he can improve. He's a rare breed. He's able to block, he's able to run. He's got a really good feel in the passing game of zone (and) man. He's fun to work with. You don't find many guys like that around."
Bennett is indeed different, maybe even unusual, bordering on weird, which might be expected from someone who has nicknamed himself "The Black Unicorn." He described himself Tuesday as "creative."
"He says he's abstract," an amused Cutler said. "So take that for what it's worth. We've talked about it and I said, 'Some of your creativity, you've got to leave that in the locker room.' "
Bennett's eccentricities will be tolerated and even embraced if he produces as he did last season.
"He brings a different humor, a different swagger to that offensive group," Cutler said. "He keeps things light, but he knows when it's time to work. It's good having him in meetings. He kind of breaks some of the monotony up, and out here, when things get a little bit stagnant, he's a tall guy and he's not afraid to use his voice, so it's good having him around."
New Bears defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis never has lived up to his 2008 draft status as the seventh overall pick, although he scratched the surface in his first three years with the Saints.
But the past two years, Ellis' production dipped, in part, he believes, because the Saints got away from the attacking style of defense they previously played.
Ellis, who will be 28 next month, had a career season in 2010 with 44 tackles and six sacks, both personal bests. But in the past two seasons combined, he had just a half-sack, even though he started 31 games and had 65 tackles.
But the 6-1, 307-pound Southern Cal product believes the Bears' scheme under coordinator Mel Tucker provides a better opportunity for him, which is why the unrestricted free agent signed a one-year deal on Tuesday.
"Mainly it was because of the way I know their defensive line plays," Ellis said. "They allow their guys to do what defensive lines are supposed to do, and that's rush the passer and get sacks and put pressure on the quarterback while playing the run on the way. I'm excited to be a part of a scheme that entails that. I haven't had the chance to do that the last couple years, so I'm excited about that."
Ellis is expected to be the top player in a platoon behind starters Henry Melton at the 3-technique and Stephen Paea at nose tackle.
"I see myself more as a three; I think they do also," said Ellis, who didn't practice Wednesday but was an observer. "I could play both; I have played both in the past. So wherever they need me to play to help the team, that's what I'll do."
Prior to the addition of Ellis, the line depth consisted of three undrafted rookies and journeymen Nate Collins and Corey Irvin.
"He's a veteran player, (and) he's got versatility," defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said of Ellis. "We feel like he can give us some stoutness inside and also give us some rush inside. So he'll have an opportunity to come in here and prove what he can do and compete. That's what we're looking for."
The Bears play the Saints at Soldier Field on Oct. 6, a game which will be special for Ellis.
"I think you know which games I circled on the calendar," he said.
Having grown up in Minnesota, coach Marc Trestman has more than a passing interest in the Blackhawks-Bruins Stanley Cup matchup.
"I grew up at a time when we didn't have indoor arenas," Trestman said. "I was one of the guys that was shoveling the pond to be able to go skate with my friends, so I've experienced it at that level and grew up with the North Stars and loved hockey and love the game."
Trestman believes his squad can take some cues from Joel Quenneville's team.
"I was just talking to some of the guys about the way the Blackhawks have handled their success throughout the season," Trestman said. "It's the constant, daily mindset of just trying to get better. That's what you're hearing from their players. They're a hard-working team.
"I've watched them play in person and on TV. You can learn from the way they built their team and how they responded not only to their success, but also to the periodic adversity they've had throughout the year. So, as professionals, coaches and athletes, you know we can learn from their success, and I think we do watching them play."
In his first stint with the Bears (2009-10), wide receiver Devin Aromashodu had 34 receptions for 447 yards and four touchdowns, and he was a favorite of quarterback Jay Cutler, who liked his combination of size and speed.
The 6-2, 201-pound Aromashodu had 37 catches for 650 yards the past two seasons for the Vikings, but coming back to the Bears as an unrestricted free agent was a logical choice for him.
"Some (options) started coming up as of late," he said. "But it was just being familiar here, knowing some of the players, especially the quarterback, who I played with before. It made things a little bit easier."
"Jay's a very talented guy. I was telling Marc (Trestman), watching Jay throw the ball, he's got a lot more talent than I ever had at that position."—Former NFL QB Rich Gannon, who was a visitor to Bears minicamp, on QB Jay Cutler. Gannon was the league MVP in 2002 with the Raiders, when Trestman was his offensive coordinator.
DT Henry Melton (tendered at $8.45 million; signed tender March 12).
(not tendered offers)
RB Kahlil Bell (not tendered as UFA).
DE Israel Idonije (not tendered as UFA).
PK Olindo Mare (not tendered as UFA).
S Troy Nolan (not tendered as UFA).
DT Amobi Okoye (not tendered as UFA).
(all picks signed)
G Kyle Long (1/20): $8,300,952/4 yrs, $4,417,506 SB/$7,541,162 guaranteed/$759,790 RB third day 2016 league year.
LB Jonathan Bostic (2/50): $3,940,798/4 yrs, $1,246,036 SB/$1,830,163 guaranteed.
LB Khaseem Greene (4/117); $2,592,092/4 yrs, $432,092 SB.
T Jordan Mills (5/163): $2,324,800/4 yrs, $164,800 SB.
DE Cornelius Washington (6/188): $2,263,788/4 yrs, $103,788 SB.
WR Marquess Wilson (7/236): $2,207,148/4 yrs, $47,148 SB.
RB Armando Allen: ERFA; terms unknown.
CB Zack Bowman: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
DT Nate Collins: Not tendered as RFA; $630,000/1 yr.
CB Kelvin Hayden: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
QB Josh McCown: UFA; $865,000/1 yr, $25,000 SB/$125,000 guaranteed.
DT Henry Melton: FFA; $8.45M/1 yr.
T Jonathan Scott: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
LB James Anderson: FA Panthers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
WR Devin Aromashodu: Not tendered as UFA by Vikings; terms unknown.
TE Martellus Bennett: UFA Giants; $20M/4 yrs, $4.5M SB/$9M guaranteed.
G Eben Britton: UFA Jaguars; 1 yr, terms unknown.
T Jermon Bushrod: UFA Saints; $36M/5 yrs, $11M SB/$17.715M guaranteed.
TE Brody Eldridge: FA; terms unknown.
DT Sedrick Ellis: Not tendered as UFA by Saints; 1 yr, terms unknown.
FB Tony Fiammetta: FA Patriots; terms unknown.
DT Corvey Irvin: FA Buccaneers; terms unknown.
TE Steve Maneri: Not tendered as ERFA by Chiefs; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
DE Turk McBride: UFA Saints; 1 yr, terms unknown.
DE Kyle Moore: UFA Bills; 1 yr, terms unknown.
G Matt Slauson: UFA Jets; $815,000/1 yr, $100,000 SB/$200,000 guaranteed.
LB D.J. Williams: FA Broncos; $1.75M/1 yr.
S Tom Zbikowski: FA Colts; 1 yr, terms unknown.
QB Jason Campbell: UFA Browns; $4.25M/2 yrs, $500,000 guaranteed.
T/G Gabe Carimi (traded Buccaneers).
TE Kellen Davis (released).
LB Dom DeCicco (released).
LB Geno Hayes: UFA Jaguars; $2M/2 yrs.
WR Johnny Knox (released/failed physical; subsequently retired).
G Lance Louis: UFA Dolphins; $1.603M/1 yr, $100,000 guaranteed.
CB D.J. Moore: UFA Panthers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
G Chilo Rachal: UFA Cardinals; 1 yr, terms unknown.
LB Nick Roach: UFA Raiders; $13M/4 yrs, $5M guaranteed.
FB/TE Evan Rodriguez (released).
TE Matt Spaeth (released).
C/G Chris Spencer: UFA Titans; 1 yr, terms unknown.
DT Matt Toeaina (released).
LB Brian Urlacher: UFA; retired.