Look who's coming back to Tune Town.
It's the gunslinger Jay Cutler, seven football seasons removed from taking beatings while Vanderbilt's quarterback.
Da Bears quarterback was one of the gutsiest players to ever wear a Vanderbilt jersey. He was pounded time and time again for four years and rarely came out of a game.
While Cutler has had his share of dust-ups with the media since moving to the NFL, I never once saw Cutler duck out of a post-game interview session. He always stayed until everyone had run out of questions and believe me, his teams lost some games in unbelievable ways.
The late Mike Heimerdinger loved coaching Cutler when they were in Denver. ‘Dinger loved his toughness. He loved his spirit. They were made for each other.
Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice shares ‘Dinger's opinion. Tice likes it when Cutler speaks his mind when the Bears offense bogs down. In Chi-town it makes headlines.
In the 2006 NFL Draft, there were three quarterbacks projected to go in the first round. I predicted at the time Cutler would be a more successful NFL quarterback than Vince Young, owner Bud Adams' choice who the Titans took third, and Matt Leinart, who excelled with NFL talent around him at Southern Cal and was taken No. 10 by Arizona.
Young is currently out of the league in what should be his prime years. Leinhart might as well be in the federal witness protection program.
Cutler? He just keeps getting knocked down. He gets up, dusts himself off and calls the next play. Oh, and he might just gives himself an insulin injection if his blood sugar goes haywire from Diabetes Type 1.
I sense Cutler will carve up a Titan defense that played two consecutive plays against the Colts with only 10 men on the field. They made rookie Andrew Luck look like a reincarnated Peyton Manning. Imagine what Cutler can do if given the time at LP Field with receivers Brandon Marshall, former Vandy teammate Earl Bennett and Devin Hester to go with running back Matt Forte.
Carolina sacked Cutler six times Sunday. That was in the first half. Somehow, Cutler lived to go home with a win. Yes, there were boos aimed at Da Bears after a dismal first half.
Cutler could not lay blame on the fans for their displeasure.
“I told my [teammates] it was a boo worthy performance if you will,'' Cutler told reporters after the 23-22 last-second win that moved Chicago to 6-1 on the season. “It was pathetic offensively what we put out there.''
Being held to just 80 yards through the air for the first three quarters, Cutler and Co., got it going. He completed 12 of his last 14 passes for 106 yards, posting a fourth quarter rating of 122.
While Cutler has never had a love affair for the Chicago media, no one can deny he is a gamer. Against Carolina, Cutler picked up the pace in the second half, taking shorter drops and getting rid of the ball before the posse arrived.
The Titans better keep putting him on the ground. Carolina learned the hard way in the second half. Cutler has been sacked 11 times in the past two games.
Cutler has had shaky protection this season, having thrown nine touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He has passed for 1,545 yards.
How much he pads those stats Sunday depends largely on how much progress the Titans defense has made under coordinator Jerry Gray.
I wouldn't suggest putting 10 players on the field against Jay Cutler. He has a Vanderbilt degree. He can count.
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