Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak was the Titans' offensive line coach when Jay Cutler was at Vanderbilt. So he has intimate knowledge of Cutler's college career. And like most coaches, he likes him.
''We coached him in the Senior Bowl, our staff did when he was coming out that year,'' said Munchak, a 10-time All-Pro offensive linemen with the Oilers. ''And obviously playing here in Vandy, Ive seen him play quite often. I've met him a few times over in the work room that week and at charity functions. So I've always followed his career because of that as he moved from Denver to Chicago. And I like him.
Maybe it's because he's a former offensive lineman, but unlike most coaches who rave about Cutler, Munchak doesn't list Cutler's "great arm" first among the Bears' quarterback's attributes.
''I've always liked his attitude, his approach to the game. A strong arm,'' Munchak said. ''He's a guy when he gets hot he can be a huge problem for you and for your defense. He can make all the throws. All those things. I've always been a big fan of his. And I guess being more local here, being in Tennessee and watching him at Vandy, we got to know him a lot more than some other quarterbacks.''
Cutler was 11-34 in four seasons at Vanderbilt. But he didn't have a great supporting cast. Now that he's with the Bears, that has changed. Cutler leads the NFL in fourth-quarter passer rating (132.0, well ahead of second-place Peyton Manning of Denver, who is at 119.6). He was 12-of-14 for 106 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter in leading the Bears from a 19-7 deficit to a 23-22 victory over the Panthers last Sunday.
''Jay is one of those guys where he has that clutch gene,'' Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall said. ''You hear guys talking about it and some believe it, some don't, but Jay has it."
Munchak is a believer, too.
''The bottom line with Chicago is if they're going to make their run its going to come up to, as you all know, you need a quarterback, a great defense and you need the offense to do what they're doing like he did in the game last week -- finding a way to win the game at the end,'' Munchak said. ''He took the ball down on a two-minute drive and won the football game. I think that's what you need to have and that's what he proved he can do last week.''