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.

Prince Amukamara and CDW surprise teens at MSI event

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USA TODAY

Prince Amukamara and CDW surprise teens at MSI event

This past Saturday, Prince Amukamara provided a great surprise when he showed up during a graduation ceremony to honor high school seniors who had been a part of the Museum of Science and Industry's (MSI) "Welcome to Science" initiative.

Students listened to brief speeches from CDW Vice President of Networking, Digital Workspace and Security Solutions, Bob Rossi, a number of Bears employees and Amukamara. 

Students engaged in open discussions on how they can further their dreams with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  And through a donation from CDW’s Tech Fore! Kids program, students got perhaps the biggest surpise of all, as they were provided new laptops. CDW continues to help enable the MSI the opportunity to work with youth and further their interaction with STEM.

CDW Tech Fore! has done previous work with Chicago Bulls College Prep, and other schools and Boys and Girls clubs over time. The MSI's program looks to provide a diverse array of teens the chance to dive deeper into what it takes to have a career in science. On top of this, students are able to collect service leearning hours while simultaneously furthering their leadership and public speaking skills. 

Three compulsories loom as make-or-breaks for Mitch Trubisky Bears 'installation'

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USA TODAY

Three compulsories loom as make-or-breaks for Mitch Trubisky Bears 'installation'

The popular focus of the Bears offseason has been on a new offensive coaching staff phasing in a radically different system and playbook, integrating new “weapons” brought other teams and other schemes, and fusing them all together around a trigger/detonator in the person of quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

More than any of that, however, is Trubisky himself, the real linchpin “weapon.” All of the offseason additions, beginning with coaching staff, projects to make only marginal more impact than Dowell Loggains, Josh Bellamy, Dontrelle Inman and Kendall Wright if Trubisky himself is not much, much better than he was last season.

In three primary areas.

In figure skating and diving, the obligatory must-do’s were called “compulsories” – basic skills at which competitors were required to demonstrate proficiency. For Trubisky, improvements in three specific compulsories are the keys to this young quarterback’s development.

Trubisky is in his own molten state, still a raw, largely unknown with fewer NFL starts (12) than all but four projected starting quarterbacks (Jimmy Garoppolo, Pat Mahomes, AJ McCarron, Deshaun Watson) for 2018, but the poorest record (4-8) of any other anticipated starter, those four included. “Work in progress” is an understatement.

The Trubisky “installation” is in fact massive. Beyond the specifics of scheme, RPO’s and all the rest, Trubisky will go to training camp with precious little shared game experience with virtually any of his chief so-called weapons. Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel and Allen Robinson weren’t Bears last year. Kevin White worked chiefly with Mike Glennon and the No. 1 offense while Trubisky was primarily with the 2’s. Anthony Miller was in Memphis.

But the Trubisky developmental group – coach Matt Nagy, coordinator Mark Helfrich, quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone, backup Chase Daniel – has three chief points of attention with what was drafted to be the foundation of the franchise:

Rediscover accuracy

For all of the positives coming out of his abbreviated rookie season, Trubisky completed just 59.4 percent of his passes – not good enough for an offense based in significant part on ball control with the pass. Substandard receivers account for some of the accuracy issues for a quarterback who completed 68 percent in his one year as a college starter. But Mike Glennon completed two-thirds (66.4 percent) of his throws in his four games throwing to largely the same group.

More to a larger point, the Bears were 2-4 when Trubisky completed less than 60 percent of his throws. His completion rate is nothing short of pivotal in keeping possessions sets of downs and entire possessions on schedule, converting third downs and resting his defense.

Nagy dialed back the offense at one point during OTA’s, Trubisky played faster “and you saw completions out there,” Nagy said, “and that's what it's all about.”

Only the Carolina Panthers reached the playoffs with a quarterback (Cam Newton) completing less than 60 percent of his passes. Slightly better statistically, Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz (60.2) was leading the MVP discussion before a season-ending knee injury, and Blake Bortles (60.2) had Jacksonville a fourth-quarter away from the Super Bowl. But the Eagles and Jaguars were top-five in both scoring offense and scoring defense. And Nick Foles got the Eagles to a Lombardi Trophy completing 72.6 percent in the postseason filling in for Wentz.

Tom Brady completed 63.9 percent as a rookie and never below 60 percent in 17 years as a starter. Aaron Rodgers, never below 60 percent in 10 years as a starter. Drew Brees, 15 of his 16 seasons at 60-plus, including the last 14 straight. Ben Roethlisberger, 12 of 14 seasons at 60-plus percent. Peyton Manning, 15 of his 17 seasons at 60-plus percent. Those five account for 17 Super Bowl appearances.

Trubisky was drafted to be that echelon of quarterback. Reaching that level begins with completing passes.

Stay the ball-security course

Trubisky may not have been dominant in any area as a rookie, but he bought into the emphasis placed on ball security by John Fox and coordinator Dowell Loggains. He ranked 12th with a very respectable 2.1-percent interception rate. Of the 11 passers rated ahead of him, only Jacoby Brisset in Indianapolis failed to get his team to .500, and eight of those 11 were in the playoffs. Ball security matters.

And it is something to watch through training camp and preseason. Adam Gase made ball security the No. 1 objective with Jay Cutler when Gase arrived in 2015. Cutler went a dozen straight practices and his 33-pass preseason without throwing an interception. The carryover was obvious; Cutler had the best season (92.3) and second-best interception rate of his career in 2015.

The same is expected, and needed, from Trubisky for the new offense, and the “old” defense, to work.

“He had, I think was a three-to-one or maybe even a four-to-one touchdown to interception ratio in college,” Helfrich said. “That works. That’s a good thing. We need to continue that. We can’t put the defense in a bad situation, our team in a situation, because there’s times in the NFL they’re going to get you and I think a quarterback kind of has that innate ability to take care of the football versus turning it over when he, for lack of a better word, panics.” 

Trubisky lost two fumbles in the span of 12 games. Very respectable and a strong starting point for his year two.

Get the ball off on time

Trubisky in 2017 tied for fourth in percentage of pass plays sacked (8.6), a problem that might be laid at the feet of an offensive line forced by injuries into seven different starting-five combinations. Might, but far from entirely.

Nagy’s passing offense is rooted in timing. Receivers during practices have precision drilled into them, meaning being exactly where they’re supposed to be at precisely the instant they’re supposed to be there. Trubisky’s tutoring has stressed plays being on time.

Only the Buffalo Bills reached the playoffs with a quarterback (Tyrod Taylor, 9.9) taking sacks at a rate higher than 6.6 percent. Alex Smith went down at a rate of 6.5 percent running the Kansas City offense under Nagy and coach Andy Reid.

Trubisky’s mobility is an obvious asset for extending plays. But getting the ball out of his hands is the goal, and his decision-making and execution will be key in how long his line has to sustain blocks. Trubisky early on evinced a grasp of balancing the reward of rescuing a play under pressure against the risk of taking a sack.

“Ball security is very important so I'm just trying to take care of the football,” Trubisky said not long after taking over for Glennon last season. “But at the same time you want to stay aggressive and you could say the sacks are a result of that.”