Bears

View from the Moon: Cutler's poor national grade

View from the Moon: Cutler's poor national grade

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011
5:09 PM
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

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.

Foe-watching

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.

Tixing
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.

Rostering

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.

What do the Bears have in their running backs? They’re about to find out

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USA Today

What do the Bears have in their running backs? They’re about to find out

The Bears were pleased with what they saw from their overhauled running back room during non-padded OTA and minicamp practices during the spring, but consider that an incomplete evaluation. 

David Montgomery, in particular, impressed with his quickness, athleticism and route running. Nothing Mike Davis showed dissuaded the team from believing in the free agent signing’s untapped potential. Positive things were said about seventh-round pick Kerrith Whyte Jr. and second-year undrafted free agent Ryan Nall. 

The only running back returning from 2018’s unit is Tarik Cohen. But while Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy and the Bears’ talent evaluators did their homework on their new players, they won’t really get to see what they have until the pads come on in Bourbonnais (Nagy expects the first padded practice of training camp to be Sunday). 

“I know (Montgomery) kept asking coach, ‘when do we put the pads on?” Pace said. “And so we’re to that point. One of his greatest strengths is his contact balance and his ability to break tackles, and now we’re at a point where that can be showcased.”

It’s one thing for a rookie to stand out during OTAs and minicamp. Tight end Adam Shaheen did two years ago, bodying up NFL-caliber defenders to make some impressive plays in those non-padded practices. But he faded when pads came on in training camp and didn’t play a significant role in 2017’s dour offense. 

The Bears believe Montgomery’s ability to break tackles — he forced the most missed tackles among FBS running backs in 2018 with 99, per Pro Football Focus — will translate to the NFL, giving their ground game a dimension it didn’t have in 2018. Jordan Howard avoided 22 tackles on rushing attempts last year, 28th in the NFL and nearly half the total of Kareem Hunt. Hunt appeared in 11 games (five fewer than Howard) before the Kansas City Chiefs released him after video surfaced of him pushing and kicking a woman; Montgomery’s style of play has favorably been compared to Hunt’s.  

As for Davis, Pace said: “I think I feel like he’s a little bit under the radar right now. Mike’s had a great offseason and we’re fortunate to have him. That’s a strong room — we talk about the receivers, we feel the same way about the running back room. And Mike Davis is a real important part of that.”

The Bears feel like Montgomery, Davis and Cohen leading their running back room will allow them to be less predictable and more efficient on offense. Last year, Howard carried the ball two-thirds of the time he was on the field, while he was targeted with a pass on just six percent of his plays. Yet no skill position player (except Mitch Trubisky, of course) was more involved in the Bears’ offense last year — 33 percent of the Bears’ total plays involved Howard. 

All three of the Bears’ top running backs in 2019 will be expected to catch passes out of the backfield as well as running the ball with a blend of efficiency and explosiveness. We’ll begin to find out this week in Bourbonnais if Pace’s overhaul of that corner of his depth chart will produce the results the Bears’ offense needs. 

Confirmed: Vic Fangio is still grumpy as hell

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USA Today

Confirmed: Vic Fangio is still grumpy as hell

Former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is starting his first (overdue) season as an NFL head coach. 

It's his first time running the show, making the rules, etc. One particularly important rule that Fangio has emphasized to start the year? Music has no place on the football field! 

Fangio won't be playing music during practice because, as noted Grump Bill Belichick can attest to, if you're having fun, you're not getting better. Here's his rationalization: 

"There's no music in games. And when it comes to the point where we need to simulate crowd noise in practice, which we will do, it will be noise. It won't be music," said Fangio, via NFL Network's James Palmer. "Noise, by definition, sounds annoying. Music sounds nice."

He's not wrong - music DOES sound nice. That's about where he stops making much sense, though. 

Vic Fangio: still kinda grumpy!