Bears

Cutler upset by injury; Bears stand behind him

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Cutler upset by injury; Bears stand behind him

Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011
Posted 3:58 p.m. Updated 11:51 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

What the Bears came out of Sundays game with the Green Bay Packers wasnt the NFC Championship. It may have been something more important, something that may be their ticket back to more of these in the seasons to come.

They spent most of this season rolling around in the lack of respect they perceived in the media and the general public. They seemed to kind of like it, actually.

Now they have a lack of respect from some of their peers. And that they kind of dont like. No seem about it.

WATCH: Lovie Smith irritated with Cutler doubters

And if the questioning by what they consider to be know-nothing civilians helped pull them together a little, then having other NFLers go on Twitter with doubts of Jay Cutlers knee injury looks like it just about has them welded together.

Maybe they should just shut up, center Olin Kreutz said. Thats just ignorance. They should turn that bad word Twitter off.

Brian Urlacher was asked what he thought about players around the league tweeting during the game that Cutler needed to man-up. Not much doubt about what he thought.

Nothing like jealous people at home watching, Urlacher sneered. Players around the league, you said, right? Yeah, I love jealous people when theyre watching our game on TV while their season is over.

WATCH: Urlacher sounds off

"Jay was hurt, I don't question his toughness. He's tough as hell. He's one of the toughest guys on our football team. He doesn't . He doesn't complain when he gets hit. He goes out there and plays his off every Sunday. He practices every single day. So, no, we don't question his toughness."

Shame on some people

The Bears have some experience when it comes to suspecting a teammates want-to in matters of pain. Cedric Benson went out of Super Bowl XLI with a knee injury that even some members of the medical staff questioned at the time.

Heres a perspective: Kreutz missed a game in 2002. For an appendectomy. He was back the following week.

In the world of the tough, they call Kreutz sir.

Kreutz suspects that Cutler may have a torn knee ligament. Kreutzs medical credentials may be open to question, but not his eyesight, and he has seen ligament injuries. So he wasnt surprised that Cutler couldnt make it.

Kreutz doesnt amaze easily. Cutler amazed him.

Kreutz wasnt surprised that Cutler was out for the game, not when I saw his knee shaking like that, Kreutz said, shaking his hand rapidly back and forth., I didnt think he was going to be able to finish the half. When he came back out and tried again, that amazed me

I saw it shaking like this, and I thought, oh man.
Cutler stung

Cutler seemed visibly stung by peers questioning his injury. He stood by his locker and answered questions after the game and it wasnt the same terse Jay Cutler who for two years has treated media sessions like dental appointments. He stood there with a knee injury that may require surgery.

READ: Torn MCL for Cutler?

Pretty impressive, actually. He shouldnt have had to put up with that crap.

Urlacher and Lance Briggs are among Bears who have made disparaging comments about Cutler. But as Briggs told me some time ago, Its because hes a quarterback. Theyre all less-than manly.

So what played out Sunday night was an NFL locker-room version of Animal Houses, Hey, they cant do that to our pledges. Only we can do that to our pledges.

What Cutler became this year was a quarterback. Not necessarily a really good one yet. But he became more than a passer, a guy with a gun and a ready-fire-aim mindset.

What he also became was their quarterback. Kreutz and his sidekicks have his front. Urlacher has his back.

Looking ahead to 2011, not a bad thing for Cutler to take away from an NFC Championship game, all things considered.

Comeback Caleb

Cutlers injury (and Todd Collins incompetence) didnt siphon off any glow from the relief job Caleb Hanie did. If anything needs to be questioned there, its why Hanie, who out-performed Collins in the Giants and Panthers games, was then summarily dropped below Collins on the depth chart because of Mike Martzs comfort level with old veteran guys as backups.

Last thought on how seriously good Hanies performance was:

Hanie may have known some the Green Bay offense better than his own. The No. 3 quarterbacks job is to run the scout team through the plays of the upcoming opponent, meaning that he spent more time last week being Aaron Rodgers than he did Caleb Hanie. I asked Hanie when the last time was that he ran Bears plays.

The bye week, he said with a little smile. He wasnt talking about the one between the regular season and the divisional-round game against Seattle. He was talking about the one in October.

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.

Why Dion Sims' return may not lessen Adam Shaheen's role in the Bears' offense

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USA Today

Why Dion Sims' return may not lessen Adam Shaheen's role in the Bears' offense

Dion Sims was limited in practice on Wednesday, but he participated — marking the first practice he took part in since Oct. 27. Sims said he feels “great,” so assuming he’s getting closer to playing on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, that begs the question: What does it mean for Adam Shaheen?

The short answer, according to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains: Not much. 

“We don’t want to slow down his progress,” Loggains said. “And as long as he’s making steps in the right direction — we’re high on Dion Sims as well — but we do not want to slow down Adam’s progress that way.”

Shaheen has caught all six of his targets the last two weeks, totaling 80 yards with a touchdown and displaying some encouraging chemistry with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (who was his offseason roommate after the pair were drafted in April). Against Green Bay and Detroit, Shaheen played 52 and 73 percent of the Bears' snaps, respectively. 

The Bears didn’t use Shaheen in Sunday’s critical two-minute drive against the Detroit Lions, though, turning to Daniel Brown instead of their second-round draft pick. Loggians explained that he didn’t want to overload Shaheen with responsibilities after his elevation on the depth chart due to Sims’ illness and Zach Miller’s season-ending injury. So Shaheen was tasked mostly with first- and second-down plays, while Brown became the Bears’ third down and two-minute guy at tight end. 

“It was mainly so Adam could focus in on his role,” Loggains said. “And as he keeps growing that way, we’ll  keep expanding that package for him. But that was the reason why.”

The Bears need Shaheen’s role to expand, though, for him to meet the usual expectations placed upon a 45th overall pick. There are going to be some situations, especially running ones, where Sims has to be on the field, possibly at the expense of Shaheen. But if the Bears were to step back and take a bigger-picture look at their offense, there are some good signs of Shaheen and Trubisky growing together, just as the team hoped when they made the pair their first two selections in the 2017 draft. The return of Sims shouldn’t disrupt that growth. 

“He’s earned the play time the last two weeks,” Loggains said. “He’s played better and better and he had some things on the first level in the blocking game that he needs to improve on that Dion is really good at because he’s played a little bit longer. We do want to play him, continue to grow him, continue to grow him and grow the reps that way, especially without having Zach here. So there is a role that — we’re still missing a little bit of a role that we’re kind of splitting between Adam and Dan. 

“But we’ll continue to play him more, and each game will be a little bit different, how it dictates. But yes, we do see him, his role just like Tarik (Cohen’s) to continue to grow weekly.” 
 

There are no rookie ‘freebies’ for Mitchell Trubisky, but Carson Wentz a good lesson in patience

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USA Today

There are no rookie ‘freebies’ for Mitchell Trubisky, but Carson Wentz a good lesson in patience

The Bears like that Mitchell Trubisky is his own toughest critic, with the quarterback consistently owning his mistakes and shortcomings to his coaches, teammates and the media. After he missed an open Benny Cunningham near the end zone in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Detroit Lions, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains wanted to rip him, but Trubisky was already “really upset” as he arrived on the sidelines about making such a poor throw. 

After the game, Trubisky said “there’s no rookie excuse,” for some of the struggles he’s had, and for his 2-4 record as the Bears’ starting quarterback. But to an extent, that excuse is valid, even if Trubisky has no interest in using it. 

“He shouldn’t give himself a pass,” Loggains said. “He should hold himself to a very high standard, because we do. but we all know the reality of the situation. He (hasn’t played much) since high school. Every day to this point that he’s taken the field, he’s played better. 

“That’s what we keep telling him — keep stacking good games, we’re gonna keep playing better around you, we’ll keep putting you in good situations, and the wins are going to come.”

Not only is Trubisky currently tasked with learning the Bears’ offense, and the wrinkles that are added to it each week, but he also is still getting comfortable with a group of players he either didn’t play much with, or at all, during training camp, when he was the third-string quarterback. And on top of that, he’s having to deal with opposing defensive coordinators knowing that, and continually throwing looks at him that they haven’t put on film before. 

The experiences and knowledge that will help Trubisky succeed aren’t gained in a week or a few games. They’re gained over the course of a season, and right now, Trubisky is halfway through his first year (he’s made six starts, and barring something unforeseen, has six more to go). 

Consider the growth of Carson Wentz, 2016’s No. 2 overall pick, who’s made tremendous strides in Year 2 as a starter in the NFL. Almost every relevant statistic for Wentz has been significantly better in 2017 than it was in 2016:

Year GS Record Comp% Yards Y/A TD TD% INT INT% Rate Sack%
2016 16 7-9 62.4 3,782 6.2 16 2.6 14 2.3 79.3 5.2
2017 10 9-1 59.7 2,430 7.6 25 7.9 5 1.6 103.4 6.7

That growth can be attributed to a number of things, including the Eagles staffing their offense with weapons like Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi. But Wentz deserves most of the credit for the strides he’s made thanks to applying the experience and knowledge he gained as a rookie to what’s now a 9-1 Eagles team in 2017. 

“It’s really expected when you’re drafted high and play right away that in the second year you transition well and really deliver for your team,” Trubisky said. “It’s good to look at those guys and see where they’ve gone from Year 1 to Year 2 and just talk to them about being a leader in the locker room and trying to improve (off) the weaknesses they see.”

So Trubisky is at least cognizant of the bigger picture, and Loggains has tried to remind his rookie quarterback of the incremental gains he’s already made through six starts. Trubisky wants to be better, and will continue to be hard on himself in his efforts to get better. 

But the optimistic outlook is Trubisky has all the talent and intangibles to follow the Year 1 to Year 2 path taken by Wentz. Perhaps a year from now, we’ll look back on this Bears-Eagles matchup and say it actually wasn’t the optimistic outlook, but the realistic outlook. 

“To me, when you’re in the situation we’re in right now where you’re not winning as many games as we want to, you have to celebrate small victories,” Loggains said. “And for us, with Mitchell, it’s, hey, you did what you needed to do in that two-minute drill to take us down and get us in position. So the growth that way, those one-possession games, he’s going to be the reason why we win those games.”