Bears

Moon: Cutler ahead of former Bear McMahon

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Moon: Cutler ahead of former Bear McMahon

Monday, April 11, 2011
Posted: 11:31 a.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Jim McMahon rarely shrank from voicing sharp criticism of the Bears organization when he was its quarterback and that hasnt changed, as Mad Mac took the team to task for its handling of Jay Cutlers knee injury.

In a report by Michael David Smith on ProFootballTalk.com, McMahon was blunt:

I think they just handled it poorly, McMahon said in an ESPN interview. Somebody should have come out and said, hey, he hurt his knee. But nobody said anything. I think if they handled it better, people would have realized what was going on.

This is a dicey one. Lovie Smith defended his player resolutely and has attacked detractors pretty regularly this offseason. The problem, though, is that Smith is not forthcoming with injury details as a matter of policy, which players should and do appreciate. In this situation the devil truly was in the details, although the fact that Cutler went in to start the second half has been too often ignored by his critics.

For what its worth, Cutler is ahead of McMahon on the winning curve.

McMahon had the Bears in an NFC Championship game in his third Chicago season (the 23-0 loss to San Francisco in 1984). The Bears were in the Super Bowl semifinal in 2010, Cutlers second Chicago season. And considering that McMahon was part of one of the most talent-rich teams in franchise history, Cutlers results stack up pretty well.

Now, the year after that NFC Championship loss, McMahon got to the next level. Cutler, your turn.

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 Bears don't see need for 'voluntary bubble' amid COVID-19 pandemic right now

Why Bears don't see need for 'voluntary bubble' amid COVID-19 pandemic right now

The Bears will not follow the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in creating a voluntary bubble, coach Matt Nagy said Wednesday, although it’s possible the team’s stance on one could change.

The idea of a “voluntary bubble” was first floated by the Saints, which have one set up during training camp. Players and staff can choose to sequester themselves in a hotel, only going to and from the team’s facility, allowing for something much closer to the true bubbles that’ve worked so well in the NBA, NHL, MLS and NWSL. Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said this week the team has a hotel set up where players/staff can stay during the season, too.

Because they’re voluntary, these team-sanctioned bubbles do not run afoul of the NFL-NFLPA’s agreement on the 2020 season. Although if one were set up, it's likely most (if not all) Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals would opt into it. 

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If the Bears wanted to set up a bubble, it wouldn’t seem to be difficult – there are plenty of hotels close to Halas Hall in Lake Forest (anyone up for an extended stay at the Marriott Lincolnshire Resort?). But for now, the Bears remain confident in two pillars of their COVID-19 protocols: Their setup at Halas Hall, and their continued education of players, staff and their families about how to pull of a football season in the midst of a pandemic.

“I think for us, we feel really good right now with our quote-unquote ‘bubble’ that we have here,” Nagy said. “It feels very safe. There’s been a lot of hard work behind the scenes to get this set-up that we have. But also, we’re growing, too. I mean, if you came in here five days ago and looked at this complex at Halas Hall and the Water Payton Center, it’s totally different than five days ago. We keep adding to make it better.

“Ryan (Pace) and I joked, it’s like one of those whiffle balls that has all the holes in it everywhere. We keep finding holes and patching them up. That’s probably going to continue for the whole year. 

“So if there’s something that players bring to us or that we feel we can keep ourselves safe in one way or another, we’re gonna do that.”

The Bears, like every other NFL team, may need to be flexible, especially as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to rise in Illinois. What sounds farfetched now may not be so crazy in a month.

But Nagy believes the Bears can avoid an outbreak inside Halas Hall by following strict mask-wearing guidelines, social distancing whenever possible and preaching the importance of responsible behavior away from the facility.

“It always comes back to when you’re outside of this bubble of Halas Hall, you need to be able to be smart and be selfless, not selfish,” Nagy said.

MORE: Should the Bears quarantine a quarterback in 2020?

The Cubs can be viewed as a prime example of how to navigate a season without a bubble, having not had a member of their traveling party test positive for COVID-19 since returning to Wrigley Field in early July. It’s not impossible to pull this off so long as everyone buys in to an extreme level of personal responsibility – and, too, gets lucky in dodging such an infectious, insidious virus.

That kind of commitment (and luck) might just mean the Bears wouldn’t need to create a voluntary bubble somewhere in the northern suburbs of Chicago.

What also can help the Bears here too is their coach’s persistent messaging about and policing of mask-wearing inside Halas Hall, which hopefully will carry over into interactions away from the building. 

“The mask deal is real,” Nagy said. “This is my opinion, and just from what we see and what we hear. You hear a lot of people say, 'Well, you've gotta treat it like everybody has (COVID-19).' In my opinion, you've gotta treat it like you have it, right?

“If you treat it like you have it, you wear your mask and the percentages of spreading it can be a lot lower. When you treat it like you have it, that means everybody has their mask on in this building and that's what you're seeing with a lot of the teams having low test rates with positive tests, and that's how we're going about it.”

 

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Bears' Matt Nagy 'really proud' of players' commitment to stay in shape

Bears' Matt Nagy 'really proud' of players' commitment to stay in shape

When the Bears ended their weekly spring Zoom sessions early, Matt Nagy explained that it was because the team felt that time was better spent in other ways. 

“This will allow the players to focus on training,” the Bears' head coach said in early June. “It’s going to be very important. That’s the one part that’s been more difficult (because) we’re not altogether. So now they really don’t have to worry about meetings so much -- Monday through Thursday -- but they can really focus on their bodies and come into training camp really prepared.”

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Turns out, even working out in summer heat is preferable to sitting through another Zoom meeting. Though training camp hasn't gotten started in full yet – Wednesday was the first day of 'Phase 2' – Nagy's first impression of the players he's seen is a good one. Showing up in shape sounds like a cliche because it basically is at this point, but as Nagy pointed out, that's still not always the case. 

"You kind of hold your breath when you haven't seen these guys this whole time," he said on Wednesday. "I know what I was doing and there's others too, and there's a lot more eating than there is working out over that quarantine. And so you never really know where these guys are at. But I think our guys -- and I know our guys, just from seeing them now -- they made an executive decision as a whole that they're going to work their tails off and get in good shape." 

What's most impressive, according to Nagy, is that the vast majority of these workouts happened in a garage, or in a basement, or out in a local field somewhere, etc. With Halas Hall essentially unavailable this summer, the coach was quick to credit strength and conditioning coach Jason Loscalzo and his team for spearheading and overseeing all the individual workouts. 

"We weren't sure how that was going to happen, just not knowing where they were and what they had to be able to work out in during the quarantine," he added. "But I'm just really proud of the players for the way that they came into shape." 

RELATED: Why Quarantining Tyler Bray Might Make Sense

Specifically, Nagy named Akiem Hicks and Cordarrelle Patterson as two guys who looked especially good. He even went as far as claiming it's the "best" he's ever seen Hicks look.

"I mean, he showed up in great shape and I'm really proud of him. I know it's not easy," Nagy added. "And then Cordarrelle Patterson ... He's the one that I walked by as well, and he was ready for me to ask him how he's doing, because he looks good too."