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.

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

The adage “play the man, not the board” seems somehow appropriate for what the Bears are doing to prepare for the Detroit Lions behind quarterback Matt Barkley.

“The man” is Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, and the Bears have been scouting him as well as his defenses, beyond just Bears games, beyond this season and last, taking in his 2014 Detroit season when Austin prepared defenses for Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen.

How did Austin scheme for rookie Carson Wentz when the Lions played (and beat) the Philadelphia Eagles? How did he structure is defense to stop a rookie Teddy Bridgewater when Detroit played Minnesota? (Not very well, apparently, since the Vikings won both games and scored 54 points combined in the two games).

While the John Fox Bears staff went against Austin’s Lions defense twice last year, Cutler was the Bears quarterback. When the Bears beat Austin and the Lions two months ago, it was with Brian Hoyer.

Now the Bears quarterback is Matt Barkley, who has fewer NFL games played (seven) than Cutler has NFL seasons (11), Hoyer (eight), too, for that matter.

“Different defensive coordinators attack young quarterbacks differently,” said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “Some guys blitz, some guys play a bunch of zone. This group on defense there, they have a really good defensive coordinator, they're really smart, they do a bunch of stuff. On the back end, they run all the coverages.

“As a game, we'll have to make adjustments as the game goes and see what their plan to come out is early.”

Coaches and players may talk about how they prepare for a scheme irrespective of which opposing quarterback, running back, linebacker or whatever they will be facing. But in fact, preparations start with who is orchestrating the opponent’s offense or defense – play the man, not the board.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

A risk can be out-thinking yourself trying to anticipate what a coordinator will do. The first point, Loggains said, is to start with your own strengths.

“We definitely look at that,” Loggains said. “As you go in the league long and longer, you face these guys, you see them in crossover games. We always know how a guy attacks a rookie quarterback or attacks a young quarterback, a veteran, or, in Matt's case, a guy who hasn't played as much.”

Evaluations of Barkley’s performance will broaden, particularly now that he is on tape for defensive coordinators to scheme for and scout. And while they are watching Barkley, the Bears are watching them.

Bears Talk Podcast: Is there friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio?

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Bears Talk Podcast: Is there friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio?

In the latest Bears Talk Podcast, Jim Miller joins Pat Boyle to discuss the friction between John Fox and Vic Fangio. And are there changes in store for the Bears coordinators?

Plus, Brian Urlacher and Mark Schanowski break down the play of rookie Leonard Floyd and find out which one of Urlacher’s former teammates Floyd reminds him of.

And don't miss a preview of Sunday’s NFC North clash with the Lions, who will be out for revenge.

Check out the latest edition of the Bears Talk Podcast here: