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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.

Eddie Jackson’s pitch for the Bears hits home with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix: ‘It’s just like Bama’

Eddie Jackson’s pitch for the Bears hits home with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix: ‘It’s just like Bama’

Six years ago, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix recruited a three-star wide receiver recruit named Eddie Jackson to play his college ball at Alabama (Jackson, of course, played for Nick Saban as a safety). In March, it was Jackson who was recruiting Clinton-Dix, this time to play for the Bears. 

He did so with a simple message: “It’s just like ‘Bama.”

And from there, “I was ready to sign,” Clinton-Dix said. 

The friendship between Jackson and Clinton-Dix developed in Tuscaloosa and continued after Clinton-Dix became a first-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2014. But Clinton-Dix didn’t decide to sign with the Bears — on a cheap one-year prove-it deal — just because of the opportunity to team up with one of his friends. 

Jackson and quarterback Mitch Trubisky chatted with Clinton-Dix on his visit to Halas Hall back in March and offered another critical pitch centered around coach Matt Nagy. 

“I told him coach Nagy is one of those coaches, he lets us be us, go out there and have fun with swag,” Jackson said. “But he knew it. He was like man, I know, I’m a fan of y’all, I’ve been watching. He was on board.”

Jackson and Clinton-Dix combined for 14 interceptions since the beginning of the 2017 season, though Clinton-Dix left the Green Bay Packers via a midseason trade last year with a reputation for missing tackles (for what it’s worth, Clinton-Dix missed one fewer tackle than Adrian Amos did in 2018, per Pro Football Focus). The Bears see Clinton-Dix’s one-year deal as a win-win for all parties: The Bears get a starting safety with proven past production and playoff experience, while Clinton-Dix slides into one of the league’s most talented defenses with an excellent opportunity to rebuild his value on the free agent market in 2020. 

“I always like to focus on the positives guys have,” safeties coach Sean Desai said. “He’s shown that he’s a highly instinctual player, he’s shown that he’s got good ball skills and good range and those are traits that we’re going to develop.” 

Jackson and Amos forged a strong relationship on the back end of the Bears’ defense the last two years, with good communication between the two helping accentuate each player’s strengths. A thought here is replacing Amos with Clinton-Dix will help ease the transition for Jackson, given his friendship with his new safety mate. But there’s more that goes into a good safety pairing than a strong friendship. 

“They gotta build that communication,” Desai said. “It’s different to speak a personal language off the field and then a football language on the field. So that’s what we’re all building.”

Still, a good off-the-field relationship with Jackson got Clinton-Dix in the door at Halas Hall. And the Bears hope it can be an important part of the league’s best defense in 2018 holding on to that title in 2019. 

“I’m just glad to be on the back end with him, man,” Clinton-Dix said. “This is a special defense and I’m glad to be a part of these guys.” 

Reworking his fundamentals might be the key to unlocking Leonard Floyd's potential

Reworking his fundamentals might be the key to unlocking Leonard Floyd's potential

If new outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino was looking to make a strong impression during his first media availability on Wednesday afternoon, he certainly hit his mark. 

“I think Leonard [Floyd] as a pure, natural pass-rusher has a bigger tool box than anybody else I’m coaching right now,” Monachino said. “I want everybody to understand what I just said. The better rusher right now is [Khalil Mack] but the natural pass-rush ability, the pass-rush gene? 94 has it.” 

Comparisons to Mack aside, it’s easy to see Monachino’s point. Since being drafted out of the University of Georgia 9th overall in 2016, coaches in Halas Hall have spoken with a sense of wonder about Floyd’s athleticism. He did, after all, have the 5th-best 40-time (4.60) among OLBs at the 2016 combine. Not to mention the 3rd-best broad jump (10’7”). And the 2nd-best vertical jump (39.5). 

“His length and his explosiveness in a short space, those things negate all other disadvantages,” Monachino added. “As a power rusher at the top of the pocket, I don’t think he’s going to have any problem. I don’t think he’s ever been groomed that way.” 

OTAs are about as laid back as team-sanctioned activities get in the NFL; it’s slow-paced and conceptual by nature. Basically, it’s the perfect environment for a player who’s looking to strengthen fundamentals. For every Floyd conversation that’s started with his raw athleticism, there’s one that’s ended with his lack of production. 

“I’ve been focusing on getting better at what I’ve been bad at last year, so I’ve just been grinding,” Floyd said. “I just wanted to just really get back and learn the fundamentals. I’ve just been practicing them and trying to elevate my game.

“It’ll help me when we start in Training Camp. Just really working on my hands, playing with good technique, and learning the new defense. I’m trying to elevate myself by learning as much as I can about that.” 

It’s important to note that injuries have played a major role, as he’s missed time in each season with a concussion (2016), MCL tear (2017), and hand fracture (2018). Still, Floyd has yet to record more than 7 sacks, and that came in his rookie season. Since then, he’s had 4 and 4.5. 

“I think the sacks will come...” Monachino said. “... As he gets better at one or two things, his numbers will go up. The thing that may happen first are the effective rushes. He may affect the quarterback, he may affect the launch point, he may move a guy off the spot. The more those come on, the more productive rushes he’s going to have.” 

The Bears are banking on Floyd finding those effective rushes, quite literally. At their end-of-season press conference, GM Ryan Pace announced that they intended to pick up Floyd’s 5th-year option in 2020. They officially did so in March, and are now on the hook for for paying him $13.2 million that year. Good pass rushing doesn’t come cheap, but the Bears will be expecting more out of Floyd from here on out. He’s certainly expecting it out of himself. 

“It’s exciting, me and coach were talking about it,” he said, when asked about getting closer to his ceiling this season. “ I’ve just got to come in every day and keep working hard and it’ll payoff. So I’m coming in every day focused and trying to help the team.”