Preps Talk

Cutler in 4th quarters: Getting better but...

928875.png

Cutler in 4th quarters: Getting better but...

Jay Cutler is leading the NFL in fourth-quarter passing. He has a passer rating of 132.0 through seven games and his performance last Sunday 12-of-14 passing, TD was the 13th comeback win of Cutlers career, sixth as a Bear.

It is a crucial stat but possibly a little misleading.

What it suggests is that Cutler, whose fourth-quarter rating last year was 60.5 with two TD passes vs. five interceptions, is becoming better under pressure. That is not universally considered a strength of his.

"He's one of those guys that can get shook quick, said Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy told CSNChicago.com after Sundays game. We wanted to get him out of his comfort zone."

Which the Panthers did for three quarters.

The key is less what the rest of the NFL thinks, however, and more what his own huddle thinks in fourth quarters with games at stake.

A couple of weeks ago I was trying to figure out a nickname, said wide receiver Brandon Marshall. I texted him over a few nicknames, like The Closer and Ace. Jay is one of those guys where he has that clutch gene. You hear guys talking about it and some believe it, some dont, but Jay has it.

Maybe. But Cutler has six comeback wins in 48 games as a Chicago Bear. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning had eight last year.

Cutler has been helped by the fact that the Bears have trailed in only two fourth quarters this season: Carolina and at Green Bay, where they lost. The Bears defense has held opponent scoring down and Cutler has had the advantage of rarely being in must-throw situations in the final 15 minutes, meaning that opposing defenses are typically gearing to play the run.

No. 2 Peyton Manning averages nine fourth-quarter passes per game. No. 3 Aaron Rodgers averages 9.5. No. 4 Andy Dalton averages 9.4.

Cutler averages 6.6 fourth-quarter passes per game.

But Cutler has not always been good under game pressure so the improvement from last years 60.5, which was 39th among qualifying quarterbacks, is important.

I think this team, weve talked about it being a young offense and now were kind of coming together, Cutler said. It takes us a little bit longer to make adjustments in games and get everything straightened out.

76 Days to Kickoff: Eisenhower

76 Days to Kickoff: Eisenhower

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Eisenhower

Head coach: Sheamus Murphy

Assistant coaches: Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera, ST Coordinator Billy Viero, assistant Darren Bryant, assistant Charles Edwards, assistant Jesse Gonzalez, assistant Ryan Gorney, assistant Will Johnson, assistant Marty McNamara, assistant Tim McNamara, assistant Anthony Munoz, assistant TJ Murphy,  assistant Jeremy Rodrigues, assistant Dan Russell, assistant Terrence Streater and assistant Ron Zychowski

How they fared in 2018: 4-5 (2-4 South Suburban Red Conference). Eisenhower failed to qualify for the IHSA football playoff field. 

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 @ Oak Forest

Sept. 6 vs St. Laurence

Sept. 13 vs Argo

Sept. 20 @ Reavis

Sept. 27 vs Shepard

Oct. 4 @ T.F. North

Oct. 11 @ Evergreen Park

Oct. 18 @ Oak Lawn

Oct. 25 vs Richards

Biggest storyline: It centers on new head coach Sheamus Murphy. Can he get the Cardinals back on the winning track?

Names to watch this season: QB Daniel McLaurin (Sr.), RB/LB Cristian Tellez (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Cardinals will need to replace 15 graduated starter from last season. 

EDGY's Early Take: The Cardinals’ now-former head coach Travis Moore decided to head to the college level. He became the defensive line coach at NIU. New head coach Sheamus Murphy, who built the Back of the Yards program from scratch, takes over and brings a ton of energy and excitement to the Island starting in 2019.

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Kaapo Kakko

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 194 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report from The Draft Analyst's Steve Kournianos:

"Multi-tooled winger with size and coordination who incorporates his impressive puck skills with a desirable physical package that consistently exhausts opponents. Blessed with incredibly soft hands and tight-quarter quickness, Kakko is a reliable stickhandler who uses timing plays to either get open or create space for his linemates.”

NHL player comparable: Mikko Rantanen

Fit for Blackhawks:

Alright, let’s get this out of the way with: Kakko isn’t going to be on the board when the Blackhawks pick at No. 3. He’s expected to be taken second overall by the New York Rangers.

But, hypothetically, if he did slip, Kakko is probably one of two players in this draft class who could step onto an NHL roster today and make an immediate impact. He’s that good, and we saw it at the 2019 IIHF World Championship when he scored six goals to lead Finland to a gold medal. 

Kakko would give the Blackhawks a dynamic winger on the right side to go along with Patrick Kane, meaning they wouldn't have to worry about their top-six right wingers for many years to come. You shouldn't draft a winger this high unless he's as close to a sure-fire prospect as they come, and Kakko would qualify.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.