Bulls

Cutler and Cam: Whats wrong with these pictures?

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Cutler and Cam: Whats wrong with these pictures?

Cam Newton is struggling. Or is he?

The Carolina Panthers quarterbacks 84.5 passer rating from his epic rookie season of 2011 is down a little to 79.3. He threw 17 interceptions last season; he has thrown six in 2012, on pace for 19.

His completion percentage has dipped a little from 60 to 58.4.

His team is 1-5 and has lost four straight games. But the Panthers were 1-5 at this juncture of Newtons rookie season as well, although they never lost four in a row during the 6-10 season.

So what really is the problem with Cam Newton? The Bears arent quite seeing it, and if they are, theyre certainly not going to say.

I just think hes playing very well, said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. The guy is a weapon, and right now, were very concerned with him.

Newton may have simply set the bar too high with his rookie season of impact plays and games, like 543 yards and 29 points on the Chicago Bears. Dan Marino was in a Super Bowl his second season and since Newton broke some of Marinos and others rookie records, without the benefit of an offseason, the assumption that he would take not the next step but rather the next leap.

I understand Im not perfect, Newton said. Im striving to be great. What other people may think or what other people may criticize me on, I take it for what its worth but continue to try to make myself better each and every opportunity that I get.

Yet if Newton is struggling to the point of Hall of Famer Warren Moon crying racism at the decibel level of the criticism, what does that make Cutler?

Cutler is off his 2011 production in passer rating (85.7 to 78.3), completion percentage (58 to 56.7) and interception rate (2.2 to 3.7). He has thrown one more INT than Newton but three more TD passes.

The difference is pretty simple: Newtons Panthers have lost four straight for their 1-5. Cutlers Bears have won four straight for their 5-1.

Ironically, Newton is being ravaged for his pouty demeanor through times of trouble. Sound familiar?

The Bears have focused on film of last years near-miss against Carolina as well as current games. But what they see, apart from spot problems that have left the Panthers with that record, not that much has really changed with Newton himself.

Hes fast, hes big, hes got a strong arm, hes mobile in the pocket, said coach Lovie Smith. With that strong arm he can make all the throws and they do a good job letting him display all those talents. They have some option plays that normally are reserved for quarterbacks who can run.

Bobby Portis punches Nikola Mirotic, breaking bones in Mirotic's face

Bobby Portis punches Nikola Mirotic, breaking bones in Mirotic's face

Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic were involved in an altercation that resulted in Mirotic suffering two broken bones in his face after Portis punched him, according to sources.

Mirotic, who’s out indefinitely, was evaluated for a concussion and taken to a hospital, where he was released but was apparently a bit out of it, according to a source. The altercation began with pushing and shoving between the two before Mirotic lunged forward at Portis and Portis hit Mirotic, sending him to the floor.

“I’ve seen worse,” a witness said.

Mirotic was taken to the training room and Portis went to the other side of the floor.

Apparently the two have had testy moments since Portis entered the league in 2015. The two play the same position and have battled for minutes, with Portis often getting the short end in the rotation.

Where this leaves Portis with the Bulls for the immediate future as far as a suspension is unknown.

But what was supposed to be a so-called nondescript season has suddenly put the spotlight on the players and the coaching staff, who’ll have to navigate the relationship between the two teammates.

Bobby Portis breaks bones in Nikola Mirotic's face after practice altercation

Bobby Portis breaks bones in Nikola Mirotic's face after practice altercation

Last year's Bulls team was mediocre in the standings, but had plenty of in-season drama. This year's group is off to a similar start.

The Vertical's Shams Charania first reported that Nikolic Mirotic and Bobby Portis got in an altercation at practice and Mirotic was taken to the hospital as a result. The two were apparently in a shoving match until Portis hit Mirotic in the face.

The Bulls confirmed the incident in a statement.

"Chicago Bulls forwards Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic had a physical altercation during today's practice," the team statement read. "As a result of the incident, Mirotic suffered a concussion and maxillary fractures. Surgery is likely required. Mirotic is out indefinitely.

"The Bulls are evaluating disciplinary action. An update will be provided when applicable."

Mirotic is listed at 6-foot-10, 238 pounds and Portis is 6-11, 246, so any fight between those two could cause some serious damage.

The Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson reported that Mirotic has headed home and has not one, but two broken bones in his face.