Moon: Bears finally have a 'Pro Bowl quarterback'

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Moon: Bears finally have a 'Pro Bowl quarterback'

Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010
Posted: 10:56 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Bears have a Pro Bowl quarterback (whatever that means and implies, which is a topic for another time). They traded for one 20 months ago who had been to a Pro Bowl but now they actually have one.

Jay Cutler probably won't get to the All-Star game this year he'd have to vault one of Michael Vick, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers or Matt Ryan at this point and he's trailing too far in Q Factor behind those guys -- but Cutler is a "Pro Bowl quarterback" in 2010. And he is more of one now than he was when he was voted to the all-star game in 2008.

(What he needs to do, and the Bears desperately need him to do, is to lapse into the post-selection spiral that finished his 2008. More on that in a moment.)

Cutler piled up 4,526 yards and 18 touchdown passes in his Pro Bowl year, but he was in a Mike Shanahan offense that had him throw 616 passes. Of those, 18 were intercepted, a rate of 2.9 percent that is roughly comparable to the 3.1 percent he's throwing to wrong jerseys this season.

What will hold him back in the voting that's wrapping up now is those 17 TD passes. Brees has 25 (oh, and a Super Bowl ring and TV commercials). Rodgers has 23 and has the love of the national media and better track record. Ryan has 21 touchdown passes (and a cool nickname, "Matty Ice"). And Vick has 15 (and a Sports Illustrated cover story). Those are tough numbers and images to overcome in a selection process that is one-third fan recognition.

But Cutler currently has his team (and make no mistake about it; it is his play that has keyed the five-game win streak) at 9-3 and in the discussion of "NFL's best" if for no other reason than they keep winning while some of the others (like Vick and the Eagles, or the Giants, or the Chargers, or ... pick one) stumble. He also is doing what he's doing so effectively that the focus of the Bears' offense suddenly is Matt Forte, quietly adding 201 rushing yards of his own when things have broken down.

And Cutler is simply a better passer and, more important, a better quarterback than he was when he put up the eye-popping '08 numbers. He has been an offensive player of the week twice in 12 games. He is completing 63.2 percent of his passes, second only to the 63.6 he connected on in 2007. He is fifth in the NFL in yards per attempt (Vick and Rodgers are among the top four), one of the key single statistical indicators of team success.

Cutler is far and away the NFL's best at third-down completions to pick up third downs over the last five weeks.

He has a 92.8 passer rating this season, higher than any year in his career and dramatically reversing a trend that has seen his ratings begin at 88.5 as a rookie and fall to 88.1, 86.0 and 76.8.
But here's the thing ...
Most of the voting for Pro Bowls is done before the final weeks of seasons. Cutler virtually made his Pro Bowl in 2008 when his team was 8-5 and he'd posted ratings of near 95 or better in four of his previous five games; he'd had five 100-ratings in 13 games.

Then he laid three eggs with ratings below 75 in all three of those final games, throwing two TD passes vs. four INTs. His Pro Bowl billet was secured by then but that was hardly the finishing kick of a true "Pro Bowl quarterback." He wasn't.

Now he is, whether the voting says so or not. What he needs to do, though, to earn that de facto distinction for the year is to avoid a meltdown in the tradition of '08. Then the Bears will have the Pro Bowl quarterback they thought they were getting back in April 2009.

"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.

CSN to chronicle Bears vs Packers rivalry on next installment of Bears Classics

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CSN to chronicle Bears vs Packers rivalry on next installment of Bears Classics

‘Bears Classics’ presented by Xfinity to debut Tuesday, December 13 at 9:00 PM CT -- Exclusively on CSN

Narrated by Chicago Bears/Pro Football Hall of Fame legend DICK BUTKUS

Chicago, IL (December 6, 2016) – CSN Chicago and the Chicago Bears will debut a brand new installment of its partnered Bears Classics presented by Xfinity Emmy award-winning documentary series when the network will chronicle the history of pro football’s longest and, without question, fiercest rivalry: the Chicago Bears vs. the Green Bay Packers.

Debuting Tuesday, December 13 at 9:00 PM CT exclusively on CSN, Bears Classics will reflect back to the conflict that began in 1921 when the National Football League's charter franchise, the Chicago Bears, met an independent team that joined the league that year, the Packers from Green Bay, Wisconsin.  With more than 1300 NFL games played for each franchise, the win-loss records are nearly even as the Bears hold an overall advantage, while the Packers lead in total championships (13-9).  From the big city on Lake Michigan to the small town some 200 miles north, the Bears & Packers continue to make their mark as combatants in pro football's oldest rivalry.  

This special edition of CSN’s Emmy-winning Bears Classics documentary series, subtitled The Longest War - Bears versus Packers, will once again be narrated by Chicago Bears legend/Pro Football Hall of Famer Dick Butkus.  Butkus played for the Bears from 1965-1973 and is credited for redefining the middle linebacker position.  He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.  CSN’s Sarah Lauch is the Executive Producer of Bears Classics, Willie Parker is the Producer, and Kevin Cross is the network’s Senior Director of News & Original Content.

In addition to the documentary narration by Butkus, among the numerous players/media/execs interviewed in this edition of Bears Classics include exclusive interviews with the following individuals:

GALE SAYERS

Bears Halfback (1965-71)

MIKE DITKA

Bears Tight End (1961-76); Bears Head Coach (1982-92)

BRIAN URLACHER

Bears Linebacker (2000-12)

LANCE BRIGGS

Bears Linebacker (2003-14)

DAN HAMPTON

Bears Defensive End/Tackle (1979-90)

GEORGE MCCASKEY

Bears Chairman

LOVIE SMITH

Bears Head Coach (2004-12)

JIM MILLER

Bears Quarterback (1999-2002)

DENNIS McKINNON

Bears Wide Receiver (1983-89)

BRETT FAVRE

Packers Quarterback (1992-2007)

AARON RODGERS

Packers Quarterback (2005-present)

JERRY KRAMER

Packers Right Guard (1958-68)

JAMES LOFTON

Packers Wide Receiver (1978-86)

Please note the following quotes from CSN’s premiere airing of Bears Classics: The Longest War - Bears versus Packers, debuting Tuesday, December 13 at 9:00 PM CT:

MIKE DITKA (on the Bears-Packers rivalry): "It was a war based on respect. I never disliked them. I would say they had something we wanted because they had a better team and had championships, and we finally did get one.”

BRETT FAVRE (on Bears & Packers Hall of Famers): "I was talking and said 'surely, the Packers have the most Hall of Fame members.’ Well, we're four short; it's the Bears that have more. So we still have a few more to go...says a lot about the Bears.”

BRIAN URLACHER (on playing against Packers QBs Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers): "Aaron’s a little more mobile…Brett ran, but he didn’t like run to create.  Aaron kind of dances around back there and will wait until the guys break open, Brett would just throw it no matter what.”

JERRY KRAMER (on the teachings of Packers legendary head coach Vince Lombardi): "We never got beat. The clock ran out when the other team had more points when we did, but we never lost a game. So it’s that constant…will to win and that will to excel.  Those are the things that endure.”

GALE SAYERS (on Packers/Bears games at Wrigley Field): "You came out here and you knew that the fans would be on your side.  It would be different if they were in Green Bay or something, hell, they’d kill you, but here, no way.  And we played Green Bay on that field a long time.”

CSN will also re-air this episode of Bears Classics on Saturday, December 17 at 10:00 PM and again on New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31) at 7:00 PM.  Details regarding January’s premiere episode of Bears Classics will be announced in the coming weeks.  In addition, fans can also get interactive prior and during every airing of Bears Classics with their thoughts, memories and comments by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #BearsClassics.  Plus, CSNChicago.com will provide additional, online exclusive interviews and commentary write-ups from CSN’s team of Bears experts. 

Former Bears running back Rashaan Salaam dies at 42

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AP

Former Bears running back Rashaan Salaam dies at 42

Former Bears running back Rashaan Salaam was found dead at the age of 42 in Colorado on Monday night.

Boulder Police say there was no evidence of foul play, according to cubuffs.com.

Salaam was selected by the Bears in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft after a standout collegiate career in which he won the Heisman Trophy award in 1994. 

"The Buff Family has lost an outstanding young man and a great Buff today," Colorado Athletic Director Rick George said. "We are heartbroken for Rashaan and his family and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult time."

Salaam played with the Bears from 1995-1997. As a rookie, he rushed for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, but only combined for 608 rushing yards over his last two years with the Bears.

Salaam went on to play for both the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns in 1999. He briefly spent time in training camp with the San Francisco 49ers in 2003 before ending his football career with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL in 2004.