Chicago Bears

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.

Why Mitch Trubisky has been so impressed by Tarik Cohen

Why Mitch Trubisky has been so impressed by Tarik Cohen

On Sept. 12, 2015, two current Bears were on the same field well before they became NFL prospects and promising pieces of a franchise’s core. 

Tarik Cohen, playing for North Carolina A&T, ran 15 times for 69 yards, putting together an impressive day given the opponent was a Power Five program in North Carolina. And for the Tarheels, a backup quarterback named Mitch Trubisky tagged into a blowout and had a 35-yard touchdown run, and also completed five of seven passes for 37 yards with a touchdown. 

Two years later, Trubisky and Cohen are here in Chicago and have already provided glimpses into what the Bears’ offense could be in the not-too-distant future. 

“Tarik’s always been a beast,” Trubisky said. “I’m glad we’re on the same team. He’s fearless, man.”

Cohen (seven carries 39 yards) and Trubisky (18/25, 166 yards, 1 TD) were the offensive stars of the Bears’ first preseason game. It was the biggest stage Cohen played on after that 2015 game in Chapel Hill, and in it the 5-foot-6, 181 pound rookie showed he belongs in the NFL.

“I’ve always said it’s all about heart,” Trubisky said. “You’ve got a bunch of measurables, but it’s all about heart and that’s what he goes out there and plays with. He’s fearless running the ball and he can take it the distance any given snap.

“It’s tough for me because if I hand it off to him I want to watch him run but I’ve got to carry out my fakes and stuff like that. But he’s a great teammate to have and what I love about him is he always practices hard. No one is outworking him. He’s practicing hard and he loves being out here playing this game.”

Bears edition of 'Who he look like?'

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USA TODAY

Bears edition of 'Who he look like?'

Who says football can't be fun?

Per wide receiver Markus Wheaton's Instagram account, the Bears had quite a bit of fun playing the "Who he look like?" game on Wednesday: 

No mercy on the new guys as Roberto Aguayo was compared to Pedro from "Napoleon Dynamite." Are "Vote for Roberto" T-shirts next? 

Even the most respected veterans don't have a free pass as Kyle Long apparently looks like Marcin Gortat. 

This could be the best one, though. Kevin White as Kel from "Good Burger." 

We'll order up a healthy season for White and many touchdowns.