The Bears Offseason Begins and Other Points of View


“Cornerback Tim Jennings said they were more aggressive defensively in the second half, playing more man-to-man and trying to put more pressure on Rodgers in order to make him move in the pocket and get rid of the ball more quickly. [Linebacker Brian] Urlacher had a more simple explanation.

‘‘’We just hunkered down,’ he said of what changed in the second half. ‘Guys got off the line. We got takeaways, we got pressure on them and played how we play.’’’

  • Even after such a brutal loss, linebacker Brian Urlacher‘s mind was still on playing general manager.  Via Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune:

“‘We’ve got to get Olin signed up,’ Urlacher said, referring to 13th-year center Olin Kreutz. ‘If we get him back, we should have a chance to be good again.'”

  • More Urlacher via McClure with a comment that only confirms that Urlacher doesn’t understand the way the new NFL works:

“‘Julius Peppers wouldn’t say much about the helmet-to-helmet hit on Packers quarterback [Green Bay quarterback] Aaron Rodgers that resulted in a 15-yard penalty, but Urlacher spoke up. ‘It was a good hit. (Pepper is) 6-7. What is he supposed to do?'”

It was not a good hit.  It was a penalty.  The fact that Peppers is so tall only means that he has to try harder to lower his target.  To my eye he didn’t try at all.  Urlacher needs to stop complaining and get used to it.

“As it turned out, Cutler was less efficient than not only Rodgers, but also Caleb Hanie, who is supposed to be a professional clipboard holder.

“‘I kind of wish we had Jay in there the whole game the way things were going,’ Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said.”

“After the crowd around him dispersed, Cutler turned and faced his locker. His eyes grew watery as he took his time buttoning his purple jacket.

“Cutler’s car was parked inside the tunnel and he walked to it slowly, his left leg as stiff as his upper lip.”

“Almost instantly, Cutler was criticized across the Internet (for coming out of the game). Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said on his Twitter account he played the entire season on a bad knee, and Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes also chimed in.

“‘Who? Where’s he at right now?’ Urlacher said about Jones-Drew. ‘Home. It’s easy to talk (crap) about someone when you’re sitting on your couch watching their game. That’s what I am saying. I don’t understand it. I don’t get it.'”

Neither do I.  Though I do have some thoughts on it here.

“Either through the draft or free agency, it is likely the Bears will try to bolster their offensive line. They could use another pass rusher as well.”

Though the Bears apparently like what they have, there will be much talk amongst the fans about the need for a sizable wide receiver as well.  But we’ve got all kinds of time for that.  All kinds of time.


“I don’t even feel like the bridesmaid.  We’re more like the flower girl, I guess. We can’t get past that last hurdle. It hurts.”

“We almost pulled out another one, but again, our goal for next year, I got news for you … it won’t change and it will never change.  We are going to chase that Super Bowl. We are going to chase it until we get it. And we’ll chase it after that again.

“But that’s it.  If you want to criticize us, then go ahead, but you have no right.”

One Final Thought

Rogers knows how the Packers got to where they are this season.  Via Michael Hunt at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“Character.  Look at our roster and a number of players who were not with us or were not counted on to play a big role. The biggest difference between last year and this year is our character and that we believe in each other.”

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Cutler the Most Hated Player in the NFL? Wonder No More.

I’ve been in a running argument with Bears fans around the city and around the Internet about Jay Cutler‘s qualities as a Bears quarterback.  I was one of the few people who defended Rick Reilly when he said of Cutler:

“If he’s not The Most Hated Man in the NFL, he’s in the running.”

Whether its justified or not, let there be no question anymore about the validity of that statement.  Current and former NFL players couldn’t even wait until the game was over to absolutely savage Cutler.  Via Michael Wilbon at ESPN:

“Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks, a future Hall of Famer, tweeted, ‘I have to be crawling and can’t get up to come off the field. Josh Freeman would not come out. Meds are available … ‘ A few minutes later when the Bears sent their third-stringer, Caleb Hanie, in to the game and Cutler was therefore ineligible to return, Brooks tweeted, ‘There is no medicine for a guy with no guts and heart.’

“Another future Hall of Famer, Deion Sanders, said, ‘I never question a player’s injury, but I do question a player’s heart.’

“Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett tweeted, ‘If I’m on the Chicago team Jay Cutler has to wait ’til me and the team shower [and] get dressed and leave before he comes in the locker room.'”

Mark Schlereth, the former lineman and current ESPN analyst, said via Twitter, ‘As a guy [who has had] 20 knee surgeries you’d have to drag me out on stretcher to leave a championship game.'”

“And Maurice Jones-Drew tweeted, ‘All I’m saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee … I played the whole season on one.'”

Trent Dilfer, also at ESPN, was more diplomatic but basically said the same thing:

Wilbon explains the reaction:

“But we don’t hear those Peyton Manning-like stories about Cutler, how he comes early to practice and stays late and works systematically and demonically at getting better. What we hear, even from teammates in both Denver and Chicago, is that Cutler is an arrogant, pouting player who rates himself quite highly. It’s a characterization that is believed totally throughout the league, through almost any pro football circle you wander into. And because it’s believed wholly that Cutler is a guy with a big arm, an overrated sense of himself and little if any heart, precious few people in Cutler’s own fraternity had any sympathy for him during the game.

“It will be interesting, from what we know of Cutler, to see if he even notices.

“A former quarterback who wears a Super Bowl ring, who has studied Cutler’s entire career in the NFL, told me before he left the field Sunday, ‘The sad thing is that if he embraced working on the monotonous details of quarterbacking he could be great.'”

Wilbon confirms what I’ve been saying over and over again.  That Cutler’s attitude is more than a minor problem.  It is a symptom of a disease that will constantly hold him back.  From dealing with the media to doing ex-players that made the game what it is today the courtesy of listening to them to putting in that little bit of extra work needed to be great, Cutler simply doesn’t do what he doesn’t want to do.

To Cutler’s credit, his more vocal teammates amongst the Bears did defend him after the game.  And I totally agree with them that the reaction to the injury was unfair.

But that doesn’t make it meaningless.  Few people doubt Cutler’s physical ability.  Its the rest of him that may well always hold him back.

Nothing to Apologize For

David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune quotes Mike Martz outside the locker room after the game:

“I’m sorry.”

Most will correctly point out that Martz got out schemed by Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers.  He certainly made his share of mistakes.

But in my book neither Martz nor offensive line coach Mike Tice need apologize for anything when it comes to the job of coaching.  They both did the best they could with second rate personnel where the game of football is actually played, at the line of scrimmage.  The whole season from the bye week on was a damned miracle.

Hanie’s Emergence Raises Big Questions

Mike Mulligan at the Chicago Sun-Times tells us what most Bears have been saying for most of the season.  That Caleb Hanie should have been second on the depth chart all along:

“The big questions about him now are: Why was he ever behind [backup quarterback Todd Collins] to begin with and what might have been if he had gotten into the game earlier? Did the Bears give away two possessions because of bad coaching decisions?”

These are good questions.

I doubt very much that getting Hanie into the game earlier would have helped all that much.  He did throw two interceptions after all.  And even had he been second on the depth chart, I’m quite certain that with a new offense being installed, Cutler still got virtually all the reps.  I’m sure that’s why offensive coordinator Mike Martz wanted a veteran backup in the first place.

But the first question is tougher to answer.  Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune comments:

“Hanie played well enough to make everyone wonder why he was the third-string quarterback and not the second-stringer. He also made a strong statement about where he belongs on the depth chart moving forward.”

The real issue, the one where the organization really needs to look critically at itself, was how they handled the back up position from the time they drafted sixth-round pick Dan LeFevour until now.

The Bears drafted LeFevour instead of Packer running back James Starks in a move which former Bears personnel man Greg Gabriel called an embarrassment for the organization.  Karma is a bitch.

Though general manager Jerry Angelo was ultimately responsible for this move, my advice to him would be to look very closely next time at who is influencing him when it comes to these personnel moves and when it comes to how the depth chart is stacked.  If its Martz then Angelo needs to think carefully about what happened to the Rams roster as Martz acculumated more power over personnel.  It wasn’t good over time.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune would seem to agree:

“The addition of coordinator Mike Martz remains a good topic for debate, and his insistence on having the 39-year-old Collins ahead of Hanie on the depth chart was a head scratcher.”

This was a tough way to learn a lesson.  It shouldn’t be wasted.

Ultimately It was the Bears Frame of Mind that Put Them in a Hole They Couldn’t Get Out Of

Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune quotes receiver Devin Hester after the game yesterday:

“They basically weren’t doing anything (special), it was us,” Hester said, referring to the offense’s slow start. “We didn’t start off fast. We picked it up in the second half, but we didn’t start off fast.”

True that.

The Bears came out unprepared for what they saw from the Packers in the first half.  But even more than that, they were mentally unprepared to play with the speed necessary to win a playoff game.

You could sense it even before the game started.  The Bears were dancing at midfield during warmups.  Linebacker Brian Urlacher smiled and gave sideline reporter Pam Oliver some nice comments seconds before kickoff.  Meanwhile linebacker Clay Matthews was interviewed just before Urlacher.  The question seemed to barely get through.  He gave a vague answer and couldn’t wait to get away.  He was already playing the game in his head.

This was a major difference between the teams.  The Packers effectively played three playoff games in a row at the necessary intensity to win.  The Bears let down.

Game Comment: Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears, January 23, 2011


  1. The Bears came out in the cover two and stuck with it for the most part during the first drive. But I think it quickly became evident that it wasn’t going to work and they started mixing some single safety with man coverage underneath. The aggressive defense, particularly in the second half, did a better job of confusing and stopping Aaron Rogers.
  2. There weren’t many times when Roger had a lot of time but he gets rid of the ball so fast he’s tough to get to.  Again, the BEars did a better job of pressuring him in the second half and it really threw his accuracy off.
  3. On a related note, the contrast between Rogers and Jay Cutler was never so evident as when they ran the ball.  Rogers drops back, looks quickly and runs. Cutler drops back, waits…, waits…, waits and runs at the last minute. Weather its a question of style or personality, quick decisions just aren’t in him.  Rogers is clearly the more efficient thinker of the two.
  4. I really thought the Bears defense was playing on their heels for much of the first half. They looked pretty confused. I don’t think they were mentally in the right frame of mind nor do I think they looked particularly prepared for what they saw on the field. You can chalk much of their success in the first half up for the Packers coaches.
  5. Rogers is masterful at drifting to the right, drawing the defenders with him, then taking off to the left. It takes discipline to stop him.
  6. Speaking of discipline, the Bears defense wasn’t doing a very good job of filling gaps against the run in the first half. There were some massive holes. They tightened it up in the second half.
  7. The Bears actually got some good penetration on some runs. But particularly in the first half it looked to me like they just weren’t wrapping up and thenPackers running backs were allowed to escape.


  1. The Packers started the game with four down linemen on the first play. I’ve never seen them do that before.  They didn’t do it often but they mixed it in occasionally, apparently when they expected a run. Other than that, I think we probably saw two down linemen most frequently.
  2. Mike Martz apparently thought that little off tackle run to the left with the pulling linemen was going to work again.  It didn’t.  The Packers were looking for it and adjusted adjusted well to stop it.
  3. I thought the Bear wide receivers had more success getting off the line of scrimmage this game than they did the last time they saw the Packers.
  4. Too bad the rest of what we saw at the line of scrimmage wasn’t better. There were stretches where the Packers dominated it.
  5. But what really hurt the Bears was the pressure that the Packers were able to bring. They were constantly resenting whatever quarterback was in the game. As a result the offense had no rhythm for most of it.  The BEars were particularly susceptible to the delayed blitz and the blitz of Sam Shields off the edge.  These have been their achilles heel all year.  They never managed to counter them.
  6. As bad of a day as Rogers had, Cutler’s was much worse. His accuracy was as bad as I’ve ever seen it. He left some big plays on the field.
  7. I don’t know why the Bears continue to run screens against the Packers.  They have the best offense in the league at running them and their defenses sees them in practice every week.  There has to be a better way to counter the blitz.
  8. The Bears had to bring in Caleb Hanie.  Todd Collins was a sitting duck in the pocket and with the problems the Bears offense had in protection, they had to have a quarterback who could move.  I thought Hanie did fine all things considered.  Yes, two interceptions but what do you expect from your emergency quarterback who probably hasn’t taken a snap in practice in weeks.  Give him credit for bringing energy to the game and engineering a drive which made this game closer than it really was.
  9. I don’t think its any coincidence that the Bears best drive came about when they managed to get Greg Olsen and Earl Bennett involved in the game.
  10. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers did a masterful job of scheming today to take the Bears offense out of their element.  Kudos.


  1. I thought that Troy Aikman and Joe Buck did their usual solid job during this game.  I’ve complained about Buck in the past because I’ve felt he was biased.  Whether it was fair when I said it or not I have absolutely no complaints today.  Good call.
  2. Man, did penalties hurt the Bears today.  They cropped up at crucial times and it always seemed like first and 15 or 20 all game.  Once again the offensive line was a major culprit but the defense really got into the act as well.  They did a lot of complaining during one particular series in the forth quarter but those all looked like good calls to me.
  3. The Bears special teams were OK.  They covered fine and generally speaking they did as well as they could giving the Bears decent field position.  But with the offense not moving the ball there wasn’t a lot they could do other than on kickoffs where they performed reasonably well.
  4. But the star of the game was Packers punter Tim Masthay who picked up where he left off at the end of the last Packer-Bears game.  He did a masterful job of pinning the Bears against their own goal line.  He was huge today.
  5. The Bears defense really didn’t meet expectations as far as turnovers were concerned.  Hanie’s interceptions obviously were the game killers.
  6. I didn’t think the Bears dropped the ball too much.  I think the Packers receivers did.  These guys are used to having Rogers lay it in for them and when it doesn’t happen, they don’t catch the ball as often as they should.
  7. I thought the better team won today.