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Latest Cutler critique iswell, just read it

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Latest Cutler critique iswell, just read it

Whether hes suffering a knee injury, getting through a press conference or throwing footballs, Jay Cutler is nothing if not a figure of discussion.

The latest to weigh in is Greg Cosell, outstanding senior producer over at NFL Films and executive producer of NFL Matchup, who makes a case for Cutler being a top-10 quarterback. The reasoning isinteresting.

The qualifier up front is that anytime someone has to belabor their credentials, pretty good guess that the first point is to establish that they know more than you do because they know their point is shaky. Among Gregs statements:

based on my extensive experience
studying Cutler when he came out of Vanderbilt in 2006
the tape told the story
when you watch as much tape as I do

and thats in just the first four paragraphs.

Anyway, its really about Cutler, who I do believe became an exponentially better quarterback from 2009 to 2010 and again from 2010 to what of 2011 he was able to play.

Neither Greg nor I have a particular rooting interest in Cutlers play. And Greg is absolutely one of the best all-around commentators on the game. Usually.

My take on Cutler is that he is right on the cusp of becoming the best since Sid Luckman and could prove better than the Hall of Famer. But hes not yet. Better passer? Probably. Just not better quarterback.

Greg has focused on Cutlers passing; that badly misses the most important point about a quarterback. Thats like measuring a pitcher by strikeout total or based on a speed gun.

(That said, passer rating does have its uses. The collapse of the 08 Denver team from 8-5 to out of the playoffs can be blamed on the defense. That may be. But with playoffs on the line, Cutler posted three straight games with sub-75 passer ratings. Greg cites one particular rookie pass of Cutlers as a true memory; the guess here is that the Broncos, including Cutler and Brandon Marshall, probably remember those last three games. Marshalls recent comments at OTA said as much.)

Greg basically blames Cutlers career 61.1-percent completion percentage on everyone except Cutler. If your receivers do not win against man coverage, its the quarterbacks fault that sort of thing. Guessing here that Charles Woodson, Deion Sanders and Darrelle Revis would demur but theyre exceptions, too.

And while correctly describing Cutler as a see it, throw it passer who doesnt like to throw before his receiver is breaking open, Greg curiously then blames receivers for not getting open. If they werent open, why did Cutler throw it? That was always the Cutler rub before the last two seasons.

Greg allows that Cutlers ball location can be a little imprecise at times. Yes.

It wasnt the 26 interceptions in 2009 that was the real jaw-dropper, or that so many of them happened in red zones. It was that three of them went to defensive linemen with a combined weight of nearly half a ton. These were not issues of receiver separation. Imprecise. Yes.

Cutler is one of the best pure throwers in the NFL. If there is a more meaningless observation to make about a quarterback Never mind. This is Scouting Combine talk. Tight spiral? Arm strength? Able to throw a ball, while on his knees, through a goal post from 50 yards? Howd that work out? You cannot separate a quarterbacks arm from the brain that tells it where to throw.

In the end, you are what your record says you are. Cutler could be a top-10 quarterback, or even passer, for that matter. Personally, based on the better part of his last 20 games, dating back to the 2010 off week, he was earning a place in the discussion.

He is not yet. And best guess here is that Cutler would agree.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

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USA TODAY

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass — who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube — have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last — and only — appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."