Peter King recently put together his “Tick Off Half The Football Fans In America Post-Free-Agency, Post-Draft NFL Power Rankings” and the Bears rank #4 on his list. Here is what the NFL scribe had to say about the Beloved:
I may not like how Jay Cutler babied his way out of Denver, but by Labor Day, the football world will have forgotten, and by Thanksgiving, the most popular baby name in Chicagoland will be Jay. (Unless it’s Jerry, as in Angelo, the man who stuck his neck out and made this deal.) Cutler’s a big-time player, and I suspect we’ll find out over the next few years if he has nerves of steel and can win the big game.
Now, there’s two things we don’t know about Cutler and this offense. There’s not a great receiver in the house and no promise of one on the way (Angelo should have guaranteed Torry Holt more money to get him to come to the Windy City). So Cutler’s going to have to make do with the Devin Hesters and Rashied Davises, apparently. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Hester. But he should be a third receiver, using his speed to game-break.)
Two: How good of a leader can Cutler be, coming in with the knock that he chafes on some teammates. It’ll be interesting to see if he meshes well with Brian Urlacher; I don’t take for granted that he will. Because of the Cutler factor and because I don’t love the defense the way I did two or three years ago, I didn’t want to leap the Bears over so many other teams. But then I went back and looked at their 2008 numbers. The bedrock stats for a good defense, I’ve always thought, are opponents yards per rush, turnovers forced and opponents’ yards per pass. The yards per rush, 3.4, was excellent, third-best in the league. Turnovers forced, 32, was very good, second in the league. And yards per pass play by foes, 6.20, was eighth in the league. All good. If Cutler can lead an offense that puts up 400 points, only a point and a fraction more than a year ago, the Bears should win 12.
Obviously King focuses on some key defensive stats that he uses to draw his conclusions, but this offseason has been all about re-building the offense. I think the Bears are still one veteran receiver away from legitimizing the offense. The name Amani Toomer has been swirling around lately. I agree with King in that I would have preferred Torry Holt, but Toomer could be a valuable resource to mentor some of the young receivers. To check out King’s complete rankings, check them out here.
Speaking of young receivers, everyone is going out of their way to compliment the Bears flock of drafted receivers.
Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford checked in on Huddle Up to laud the Bears’ 3rd round pick Juaquin Iglesias:
“Did he deserve more national attention? Definitely,” Bradford said earlier this week. “Our offense had so many weapons and we could do so many things that people kind of forgot about the things he did.
“I also think you have to look at the fact that he caught two touchdown passes in our Big 12 Championship game. He wasn’t fazed by the big games. In fact, he played well in those circumstances. That means a lot to a championship team.”
“I think it will be an easy transition because his knowledge for the game is a lot greater than most people coming out of college,” Bradford said. “He’s very smart about recognizing coverages and knowing how to react.
“He’s got a great feel for defenses. The more we played together, he would break off routes and I knew where to find him. He was good at finding the soft spot in the defense. He’s just very smooth and sometimes makes the game look easier than it is.”
Meanwhile, Pitt Panther QB Bill Stull commented on the bargain the Bears got in selecting Derek Kinder in the 7th round.
“Derek told us he was going to run in the 4.4s at the Pro Day, and we all kind of laughed,” Stull said. “Sure enough he ran in the 4.4s. I don’t think he even wore a knee brace.
“His hands have always been extremely good. He’s a competitor. When it comes down to it, he’s going to get it done. He’s just a great athlete and a great teammate. And I think he’s a steal for the Bears.”