Cutler for MVP? The chatter's already started

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Cutler for MVP? The chatter's already started

With a huge acknowledging nod to the defense, the Bears are 27-10 in Jay Cutlers last 37 starts, which is predictably creating starts of its own, as in mutterings about Cutler as a possible MVP candidate.

Sports Illustrateds Peter King in todays Monday Morning Quarterback listed among things he liked in week 12:

h. Jay Cutler. If we define "value'' in "Most Valuable Player'' as someone whose loss would totally deflate and screw up his team, then Cutler has to be in the running for the award.

Not to be outdone, Eric Adelson over at Yahoo Sports posited that Cutler deserves serious consideration for the MVP award. (Eric and Peter appear to have just joined the program already in progress and might want to put on the Tennessee red zone and Houston reels just for balance.)

The bases for the awards are simply that the Bears would be have been abysmal without Cutler. Which may be a true testament to how bad Todd Collins and Caleb Hanie were and Jason Campbell was in one game, although Josh McCown was 1-1 in his two starts last season even being sacked seven times in Minnesota.

The problem with that thinking is that the Indianapolis Colts were 2-14 sans Peyton Manning last season. Does anyone really see the Atlanta Falcons at 10-1 with the other McCown (Luke) at quarterback? The Giants even in a Super Bowl discussion behind David Carr?

Not to dismiss the importance of what Cutler has done and is doing with the offense (although the passing offense did rank 30th in the NFL before Campbell ever took a snap). But with the paucity of quality quarterbacks in the NFL, rare is the team that doesnt spiral downward without its No. 1 quarterback. Theyre all borderline MVPs on their teams.

Sick bay: White Sox not worried about Zach Putnam, Melky Cabrera back in lineup

Sick bay: White Sox not worried about Zach Putnam, Melky Cabrera back in lineup

White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Zach Putnam theoretically is available to pitch in Sunday’s series finale against the Cleveland Indians, but he’s unlikely to use him after the right-hander left Saturday’s game with right elbow tenderness. 

Putnam was initially listed as being day-to-day, and nothing changed on that overnight.

“He’s available but would I use him? Probably not,” Renteria said. 

Melky Cabrera, who jammed his wrist chasing down a foul ball Saturday night, was back in the White Sox lineup at designated hitter on Sunday. 

Left-hander Carlos Rodon was spotted saying hi to teammates in the White Sox clubhouse before Sunday’s game, and is being evaluated as the team figures out what the next step in his recovery process from bursitis in his left biceps. 

Right-hander Jake Petricka was around the clubhouse on Sunday, too, as he works his way back from a strained right lat. 

“He’s been getting worked on inside there,” Renteria said. “We still have to see where he’s at. I don’t know what he’s going to do on the field yet. That’s to be assessed.”

Bears NFL Draft Preview: Franchise-QB search expected to continue sooner rather than later

Bears NFL Draft Preview: Franchise-QB search expected to continue sooner rather than later

CSNChicago.com Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin goes position-by-position as the Bears approach the 2017 Draft, taking a look at what the Bears have, what they might need and what draft day could have in store. Sixth in a series.

Bears pre-draft situation

Jay Cutler lasted through two years under the John Fox coaching staff while his 2014 contract still contained some guaranteed money. The new regime under GM Ryan Pace was given the option by Chairman George McCaskey of cutting ties earlier regardless of financial commitment but Adam Gase and Dowell Loggains as coordinators made a go of it before Cutler's injuries (shoulder and thumb last season) and mediocre play regardless of supporting cast made the organization's decision for it.

Resolving a now-decades-old problem position has been goal No. 1 of Pace, with all indications that the process will be ongoing, vs. the Cutler's-fine approach of the past eight years. Step one was signing Tampa Bay Buccaneers backup Mike Glennon to a three-year deal but with $16 million of the $18.5 million guaranteed coming in 2017. The situation establishes Glennon as the starter, with a chance to put a hold on the job beyond this season with a breakout year.

"It's a leap of faith to some degree," Fox acknowledged during the NFL owners meetings. "But I think you do that in a lot of different positions and evaluations of personnel and people. The big thing with him is that he has been in NFL football games. He has been in a lot of systems and around different players and personalities and, I think, handled it well."

The decision was made to move on from Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley as backups, signing Mark Sanchez, 30, to a one-year pact worth $1 million guaranteed plus a per-game bonus that allows the deal to top out at $2 million. Connor Shaw showed promise before going down for the year with a broken leg suffered in preseason.

Pre-draft depth chart
 
Starter: Mike Glennon
Reserves: Mark Sanchez, Connor Shaw

Bears draft priority: High

The Glennon and Sanchez signings were modest financial and time commitments by NFL standards. Their depth chart has no "elite" in place and does not need another mid-range quarterback; they had that for eight years in Cutler and know what limitations a limited quarterback brings to a franchise.

Using Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints experience as the template, Pace has been clear that he is seeking a quarterback with the intangibles to do more than post statistics, going further to lift the collective team mojo, something too often painfully lacking during the Cutler tenure.

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All of which makes the quarterback draft options a level more interesting than the basic talent/traits assessments and evaluations that have circulated. The Bears have done extensive research on the quarterback prospects, and few envision scenarios where the Bears do not strike for one within the first several rounds.

The overarching No. 1 question: Will the Bears disregard draft slot (No. 3) and land a quarterback perhaps not graded that highly but with the intangibles the organization craves?

Question No. 2: Could quarterbacks go a surprising 1-2 with the Cleveland Browns tapping Mitchell Trubisky and San Francisco 49ers snatching Deshaun Watson?

As far as this year's class, "I'm not banging the table for any of them," said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who tapped Clemson's Deshaun Watson as the No. 1 prospect in the 2017 draft class.

Keep an eye on:

DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame — The Bears sent a task force to South Bend for Kizer's Pro Day, in addition to a Combine interview and private meeting. Athletic but INT rate (2.7 percent), accuracy (60.7 completion percentage) and W-L record (14-11) nothing special.
 
Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech — Has been likened to both Cutler and Brett Favre for big-play predispositions, mobility and arm abilities. May have widest hit-miss potential, with major upside but also weaknesses in decision-making that concern some. "I just think his fundamentals break down too many times," Mayock said.
 
Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh — Bears coaches worked with him at Senior Bowl. Not as highly touted as others in the class but among most pro-ready and rates as possible nugget in mid-rounds — if left on the board that long.
 
Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina — Bears were scouting him intently early last college season and invested a Combine interview and private workout in additional time with what some rate as the best-available at his position in a class short on "elite" talents. But opinions vary widely, with Trubisky being mentioned for Cleveland at No. 1 or for No. 12, for example.
 
Deshaun Watson, Clemson — Unquestioned intangibles leader with curious "negatives:" accuracy (67.4 career completion percentage) and turnovers (2.7 INT percentage). Two full years as starter, two appearances in national championship game.