Pat Kirwan, Senior Analyst of NFL.com, is running a companion series to the NFL Networks The Top 100: Players of 2011. So far he has listed out the quarterbacks (click here) and running backs (click here) in groups of five. He has the Chicago Bears Jay Cutler in the 16-20 grouping of QBs and he has Matt Forte in the 11-15 grouping of backs. Pete already touched on this in The Den, but I wanted to give it a little alone time on the front page.
Cutler is in a group that includes Matt Cassel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mark Sanchez, and former Bear Kyle Orton. Looking over the players in the first 3 groups it's tough for me to argue against his placement of Jay in Group D.
Here's what he had to say about him:
He takes too much criticism for his "body language." The accusations after his knee injury in the NFC title game are just an example of his bad image. Another year under offensive coordinator Mike Martz and he's headed up from Group D.
I agree 100% with Kirwan, one more year of familiarity in the Martz O and Cutler will distance himself from the other QBs in his group. I do think he's at the top of Group D right now.
Matt Forte is grouped with 5 other backs in Group C, Kirwan will have to explain how he has 6 runners listed in the five spots of 11-15. Forte's company in his group are, Ahmad Bradshaw, Frank Gore, Peyton Hillis, DeAngelo Williams, and former Bear Cedric Benson.
Here's his take on Forte:
Forte gets his 1,000 yards behind a questionable line and scares defenses more as a receiver. Not flashy, but really solid in all phases of the game.
Unlike Cutler, who he thinks could jump up from his group, he believes Forte will stay in this group with a full 16 games played in 2011. I disagree. I think a healthy Forte, running behind what should be a better run blocking line and playing more comfortably in a running back friendly offense, will have a career year.
Be sure to peep out his full lists then come tell us what you think, not only on where these Bears rank, but also give us your take on his groups.