Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011
By John Mullin
ESPN chum and NFL expert John Clayton has seen a bit of Jay Cutler this season, beginning with a visit to Bourbonnais and most recently some play in Soldier Field. The Professor takes a long look at NFL quarterbacks, ranks them and doesnt have a real high opinion of the Bears QB.
John has three simple divisions: Elite, Chad Pennington and Hit-or-Miss. Elite (12 players) is obvious. Pennington is that strata of quarterback good enough to get a team into the playoffs with a favorable schedule or decent supporting cast. H-or-M is the catch-all for players who could move up to elite status, declining veterans or forget-its.
Cutler is at No. 16, which makes him a Pennington and is exactly where his passer rating (86.3) ranked. The reason is pretty basic and its the same one that plagued Cutler and the Bears last season and hurt them Sunday in Green Bay: interceptions. Cutler had fewer picks (16) this season than in 2009 (26) and fewer this year than Eliters Eli Manning (25), Drew Brees (22) and Peyton Manning (17).
The difference really lies in more than simply the number of interceptions. It involves being a winning quarterback, which Cutler is for only the first time this year since high school, whereas the other three mentioned all have Super Bowl rings.
Johns analysis is a good read. Its also a pretty spot-on ranking and take on Cutler, who would have zero interest in what any member of the media thinks of him. But he is not an Elite quarterback yet, and thats what the Bears need him to be, starting a week from next Sunday.
Colleague Reuben Frank at CSNPhilly.com takes a long look at the Bears potential division-round opponent, noting that the Philadelphia Eagles are the fourth-youngest team in the NFL this season and the youngest in the NFC playoffs. The problem, for the Packers this weekend and potentially the Bears the weekend after, is that they dont play like a group of youngns anymore.
Passing along a note from the Bears:
A limited number of playoff tickets are scheduled to go on sale on Wednesday at 10 AM, through Ticketmaster. Tickets are only on sale for the first home playoff game. A second sale date will be announced if Chicago hosts the NFC Championship game.
All playoff game ticket sales through Ticketmaster are via phone and Internet only. Fans may charge by phone at (800) 745-3000, or on-line at www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets are priced at 107 to 559. There is a limit of four tickets per customer or billing address. Tickets purchased through Ticketmaster are subject to a per ticket customer convenience charge. Ticketmaster accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and Diners Club cards.
Wheelchair seating is available for the playoffs through Ticketmaster. Should the wheelchair seating allocation through Ticketmaster become exhausted, fans with disabilities are encouraged to proceed with the purchase of conventional seating if available then call the Bears ticket office to arrange an exchange. For further information, please call the Chicago Bears ticket office at (847) 615-BEAR (2327) or log on to www.ChicagoBears.com.
Northwesterns week wasnt a total loss as wide receiver Eric Peterman was signed to the Bears practice squad to fill the spot created when Juaquin Iglesias was signed onto the Minnesota Vikings roster. Peterman had 3 catches for 39 yards in preseason for the Bears.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.