If there are frustrations with Jay Cutler inside Bears' locker room, they aren't the first

If there are frustrations with Jay Cutler inside Bears' locker room, they aren't the first

One inevitable byproduct of dismal, losing football appeared this week, pretty much on schedule, with a report that a couple of Bears players are venting their unhappiness, predictably, with quarterback Jay Cutler, who has inspired this sort of thing since even before he ever put on a Bears uniform.

Back in 2009, it was Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher who weren’t all that enthralled with Cutler coming to Chicago, partly because of what they’d heard or known about him and partly because a lot of the locker room believed in and liked Kyle Orton, who was sent away after a 9-7 season as part of the trade for Cutler.

So it probably should come as no surprise now that Mike Freeman over at Bleacher Report tweeted that a couple of players told him “most” of the locker room had “given up” on Cutler, not an altogether unnatural reaction to Cutler’s four-turnover performance in the 36-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It would not be the first time even this season when frustrations with Cutler boiled into public view. Linebacker Pernell McPhee confronted Cutler on the sidelines after a catastrophic Cutler interception in the 15-point loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2.

The surprise would be if feelings and bonds weren’t frayed by a 2-7 season that has seen the Bears lose two of their last three in blowout fashion and with the outcome no closer than nine points in five of the seven losses.

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But while the latest criticisms of Cutler are anonymous, support for him is public.

“No, no (truth to the Freeman report),” tight end Zach Miller said. “That's a complete B.S. report in my opinion. I think that anybody that you would put up there would say the same exact thing.”

Irritation at quarterbacks’ mistakes typically might be found on the other side of the football. But Cutler has at least one supporter on the defensive end.

“He’s a great quarterback,” defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. “And everybody is behind him and wanting him to do well for our team. You know there’s going to be situations where the outcome isn’t what you want. But we’re still behind him. I know I’m still behind him personally. And I know our defense is cheering our offense on and wanting the best for our team.”

Cutler was elected one of the offensive co-captains (along with Alshon Jeffery) and appeared to be making an effort to lead the Bears and the offense out of the morass that the Tampa Bay game turned into.

“I think midway through the third quarter he’s still in the huddle saying, ‘All right, let’s get going. Let’s do this,’ and trying to pick us all up to rally around him,” Miller said. “We understand that we aren’t playing well collectively. We certainly didn’t do that on Sunday to help him out at all. So I communicate with him probably more than anybody on the football team, and he’s going to continue to grind and continue to prepare and we’ll be on to New York.”

AP writers vote Matt Nagy for 2018's best coaching job

AP writers vote Matt Nagy for 2018's best coaching job

It may only be Week 15, but Matt Nagy's already winning awards. 

Earlier today, Nagy was chosen as "having done the NFL’s best coaching job in 2018 in voting released Friday by a panel of 10 football writers for The Associated Press." 

AP football writer Howard Fendrich explained the decision, saying,″(Nagy’s) overseen a total turnaround of the Bears in just his first year as an NFL head coach, taking a team that hadn’t finished above .500 since 2012 and turning them into the best of the NFC North. He’s an offensive guru who learned from former boss Andy Reid, and Chicago’s play calling has been creative and fun — and overcome limitations at the QB spot to be good enough to let a superb defense lead the way.”

Nagy's led the Bears to a 9-4 record in his first year as head coach, with a chance to win the division if the Bears can beat the Packers this weekend. 

Nagy came in ahead of Pete Carroll, who finished in 2nd place. Andy Reid, Nagy's mentor in Kansas City, rounded out the top 3. 

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Lack of flags another reason why the Bears’ defense is the NFL’s best

USA Today Sports Images

Lack of flags another reason why the Bears’ defense is the NFL’s best

A thought here after watching Thursday night’s Chargers-Chiefs tilt, which featured eight flags for either defensive pass interference or defensive holding...

As the NFL makes it harder for defensive players to play defense (and as TV ratings go up), the Bears are one of the cleanest teams when it comes to their opponents’ passing game. They rank second among teams with only eight combined defensive holding and defensive pass interference penalties: 

1. Dallas (5)
2. Chicago (8)
3. Oakland (10)
4. Tennessee, Los Angeles Chargers (11)
6. Arizona, Indianapolis (12)
8. Carolina, Cleveland, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Houston, Philadelphia (13)
14. Cincinnati, New York Jets, Seattle, Tampa Bay (14)
18. Baltimore, Pittsburgh (15)
20. Los Angeles Rams (16)
21. Buffalo, Minnesota, New England (17)
24. Denver, Detroit, New York Giants, San Francisco (18)
29. Atlanta, Miami (20)
31. New Orleans (23)
32. Kansas City (36)

The Chargers entered Thursday night’s game tied with the Bears with eight holding/pass interference penalties, but where whistled for three during the game — and not all were clear fouls, either. And that kind of stuff can be annoying for defensive players around the league to see. 

“100 percent,” Bears safety Eddie Jackson said. “.. .I’ve seen some things, I’m like come on, man. But there’s some things you can’t control. Control what you can control, and that’s go out there and play ball and to the best of your ability try not to hold or get a flag for pass interference called on you.”

Jackson credited four members of the coaching staff with the Bears’ ability to avoid holding/interference penalties: Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, assistant defensive backs coach Roy Anderson and quality control assistant Sean Desai. From teaching proper technique for being told what to watch out for, this is a well-coached group. Only cornerback Prince Amukamara — who’s usually in press coverage, subjecting him to the most contact — has been whistled for multiple interference or holding flags this year (he actually has half the Bears’ total, with four). 

“It’s a combination of both (coaching and technique) I would say,” coach Matt Nagy said. “The players, technique-wise is a big part of it. You’ve got to be really disciplined in that area. And then I think the other part of it is with the coaching is making sure that they’re watching to make sure to see where they’re at with it. So far, to have that, you want that overall as a team to be the least penalized, specifically in that area, that’s always a good thing.”

Consider it another feather in the cap of the league’s best defense: Even when passing-oriented rule changes and tweaks supposedly make it harder to play defense, the Bears largely haven’t suffered for it. 

“It’s more difficult for the referees, too,” Nagy said. “It’s difficult for them. It’s difficult for the players. There’s some subjectiveness to it. But you gotta try to not be too grabby.”  

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