Bears

Bears backup QB Hanie has Cutler's back

306480.jpg

Bears backup QB Hanie has Cutler's back

Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011
10:32 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Caleb Hanie spent the week leading up to the Green Bay game playing the role of Aaron Rodgers, running the scout team as he has since the mid-season off week.

He was in the role of defense attorney on Tuesday for Jay Cutler and he played it very, very well. Not that Cutler needs it, but his backup has his back.

In a phone interview on The Dan Patrick Show Hanie disputed any notion that Patrick himself had been pounding all morning, that Cutler wasnt involved enough after being taken out of the game. One TV shot showed Cutler sitting on the bench, in his Bears cape, uninterested and uninvolved.

No, that wasnt the case, Hanie said. Ive seen the shot on TV but that was just one five-second clip. He talked to me a lot coming off the field to calm me down, told me to trust my line, trust my reads and just go play and use your feet if you have to.

Didinger: Cutler doesn't deserve all the criticism

He did a great job doing that for me. I thought he was well into the game. I asked him a question at one point on the cards or pictures and he gave his input, told me the blitzes they were bringing and coverages they were running.

As far as Cutler not being right next to Hanie all the time, I think he was just trying to give me time when we were sitting on the bench, time to digest everything, then talk to me after, Hanie said.

Hanie was direct on one hypothetical: Had the Bears won the game, Cutler would have played in the Super Bowl, he said.

And as far as the NFC Championship, If he couldve played, he wouldve played, Hanie said. I was surprised because hes been getting hit all season but never seems to get hurt... Hes one of the toughest guys on our team...

One thing I know about him: Hes going to sell out for his teammates, no matter what. He cares about his teammates more than anyone else out there. If he could have played effectively, he would have been in there for sure.

Hes not a quitter. The kind of stuff other players via Twitter and elsewhere were saying, thats what aggravates the guys in our locker room. Because we know hes not a quitter.

Identity crises

Hanie wasnt sure the Packers knew his name when he came into the game. They probably didnt, he said. They were telling me I played good afterwards. They were good about that.

READ: Cutler vs. the Media - Day 2

What some people couldnt understand was how Hanie didnt see B.J. Raji before he threw a pass directly to the massive nose tackle. Someone was saying, How did you not see the guy? Hes 400 pounds. I said, Well, hes hiding behind the other 400-pound guy.

Youre kidding, right?

Patrick said hed rather have seen Cutler at least standing up on the sidelines rather than sitting on the bench. Just guessing here, but would the knock then have been that the guy was OK enough to stand, so...

This was all kind of interesting, and not restricted to Dan Patrick by any means. It has the feel that now that it is clear that Cutler has a knee injury, a torn ligament, some people need to do some fast face-saving or CYAing. Rather than acknowledge that Cutler bashing over the injury was off, people are taking off now after Cutlers demeanor.

Based on the isolated snippets of TV shots showing a morose Cutler on the bench, Patrick declared, This is the biggest game of his life... Hes guilty of indifference... Thats his crime, to me.

Wow. Now not only readings in body language, but mind-reading and character analysis?

OK, so, what, now the crime has shifted to not being sufficiently or visibly crushed? And crime? Dan does need to get out more. But thats seriously, seriously stupid. And Patrick is a fellow University of Dayton alum.
Stuckmeyer: Putting 'toughness in perspective

Maybe having had the pleasure of doing Mondays Chicago Tribune Live on Comcast SportsNet with two-time Super Bowl winner Howard Griffith is an advantage here. Howard had the same injury and was blunt; no way could someone go back in an NFL game with that injury.

Somehow, though, people cant let go of the toughness crap. A caller brought up Brett Favre and how youd have to drag him off the field. Patrick mentioned that Ben Roethlisberger played with a broken nose.

You can play with a broken nose. You can win heavyweight boxing championships with a broken nose. Comparing a broken nose and a torn knee ligament? No, Dan really needs to get out more.

A voice of reason

To his credit, Tony Dungy, who faced similar situations during his time coaching the Indianapolis Colts, even in the Super Bowl against the Bears, was blunt, but I dont think it was at all the direction Patrick was expecting.

Dungy immediately went right at critics, particularly among the ranks of players as well as people who clearly didnt know the situation at the time: I think its ridiculous... Im just really, really surprised.

DPs yeah, but was back at the appearance of indifference. But Dungy wasnt buying that either. Colts receiver Marvin Harrison was a similarly undemonstrative individual on the sidelines, which didnt bother Dungy because Harrisons play was anything but indifferent.

Dungy said it all: People like you, DP, although Dungy didnt say it are wanting Jay Cutler to act a different way than he is and basically be something they want him to be.

Well said. If youre pre-disposed to dislike someone, for whatever reason, pretty much whatever that person does will confirm the baseline feeling. Hey, no one likes admitting they were wrong.

Correcting

Dan brought up Scottie Pippen the other day when I was on the show, Pippen as an example of someone who never got past the stigma of having migraines in playoffs. Pippen was part of enough championships (as Tonto to Jordans Lone Ranger) that the migraine issue was put in the past. Terrell Davis issues with that problem helped.

What wasnt was Pippens refusal to go in the game with 1.4 sec. remaining in a playoff game vs. the Knicks, because Pippen was hearing that he wasnt the No. 1 option on the play after the timeout. That, not migraines, is the stigma that Pippen carries.

Odd

Bears safety Chris Harris wasnt voted onto the NFC Pro Bowl roster. But he, along with linebacker Brian Urlacher, was named a second-team All-Pro. Go figure.

Easier to figure the Bears first-teamers: defensive end Julius Peppers and Devin Hester (as a returner, not a receiver). The Bears and Atlanta Falcons were the only NFC teams with two players named to the team.

Definitely not-odd

Defensive end Israel Idonije is one of the three finalists, along with Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and Madieu Williams of the Minnesota Vikings, for the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. The winner will be announced prior to the Super Bowl on Feb. 6.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Looking deeper to understand how John Fox still commands Bears trust through bad times

fox-trust.jpg
USA TODAY

Looking deeper to understand how John Fox still commands Bears trust through bad times

I’ve always placed great stock in the drama tenet, “Action is character.” What an actor/person does in significant part defines their character, or lack of same.

Conversely, in some situations, what someone doesn’t do can be equally defining or revealing. A couple of those involving the Bears are worth noting, because they suggest things about John Fox and and his staff, and perhaps a bit of what players think of them.

Nothing stunning, just a case of when you pull the camera back for a little wider angle, a broader picture forms out of seemingly separate or isolated incidents. Fox has never lost his teams through three generally miserable seasons, those teams consistently played hard through bad times. A handful of specific situations offer some insight into perhaps why:

The Cohen conundrum

Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains came in for scalding criticism for their recent seeming under-utilization of running back Tarik Cohen. The closest either came to laying out the real reason was a reference to concerns about the rookie’s pass-protection capabilities, no small issue against Green Bay and coordinator Dom Capers’ blitz proclivities; coaches want to see Mitch Trubisky wearing a Bears uniform, not Clay Matthews.

Cohen may be the Bears’ leading receiver, but if a back can’t present the viable option of pass protection, the offense is limited even more than it already is anyway with a rookie quarterback.

Come forward a week: Overlooked in the aftermath of the loss to Detroit, in which Cohen was not part of the hurry-up offense driving for a winning or tying score, was the fact that Cohen simply didn’t know the plays well enough in that situation. Fox didn’t say so. Neither did Loggains.

Cohen did.

Asked afterwards what he wasn’t solid with, Cohen owned it: "Probably the hurry-up plays at those positions. I know certain plays at those positions, but to open up the whole playbook with me, I’ll have to learn all of those plays.”

Should he have been up to a faster speed in week 10? That’s another discussion. But like it or not, his coaches were not going to be the ones to out him.

The Howard hassle

Jordan Howard finished 2016 second to only Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott in rushing yardage. He began the year inactive for game one and lightly used in games two and three. The reason Loggains gave from the podium was that coaches didn’t really know what they had in Howard.

Yes. They did. But Loggains didn’t cite Howard for not being in shape to carry the load the offense needed. Neither did Fox.

Howard did.

“I should’ve been in better shape,” Howard said at the outset of training camp last July. “I should’ve been playing earlier if I would’ve handled what I had to do.”

Some very effective coaches have used public embarrassment for motivation; Mike Ditka assessed that he wasn’t sure Donnell Woolford could cover anybody, and Buddy Ryan summarized that “No. 55 [Otis Wilson] killed us,” for instance.

Fox and his staff don’t do that and they’ve have taken the heat for their players, which does frustrate those tasked with accurately reporting sometimes hard information.

Medical restraint

Fox’s tenure has been awash in major injuries to pivotal players. He has made points in his locker room by shielding those players and their issues whether outsiders like it or not.

That started back with Kevin White and the infamous stress fracture that Fox was accused of knowing about and lying that he didn’t. The real situation was that medical opinions (and the Bears had gotten a bunch) were divided to the point where the Bears opted against surgery until it was conclusive that the shadow on an x-ray was indeed a fracture. Fox refused to call the injury a stress fracture with the doctors so divided, and he was pilloried for it. But not in his locker room.

The organization very much needed Pro Bowl lineman Kyle Long this season for an offense that certainly wasn’t going to live on the arm of Mike Glennon. Long was testy and combative during training camp, and “honestly I’ve been champing at the bit to get back,” he conceded, “but they’ve done a good job of pulling the reins a little bit and making sure that I understand that it’s a long season.”

Small things, not necessarily connected, but as Fox’s third season winds down, what his team shows will factor into decisions on his future. The Bears right now, after the Green Bay and Detroit losses effectively ended the “hope” part of their season, are entering that dreary phase of a year when effort will be critiqued as critically as performance.

The on-field results now will say something about character, Fox’s own and the collective one he has worked to instill since January 2015.

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

floyd-ir-1123.jpg
USA TODAY

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot.