Bears

Will Bears fans finally get to see another side of Jay Cutler in his new role as FOX broadcaster?

Will Bears fans finally get to see another side of Jay Cutler in his new role as FOX broadcaster?

Well, that escalated quickly.

Just a day or so after word got out that former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler had auditioned to become an NFL game analyst for FOX came the announcement Friday morning he'd been hired and will pair with Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis as one of their broadcasting teams.

And look for Cutler around Halas Hall, and the Bears, again this season.

While Burkhardt and Davis are respected, solid and do a fine job, that threesome with Cutler likely won't be high on the pecking order for marquee games each week, and the Bears — not being one of those must-see teams nationally right now — have 11 games on FOX this season.

Just as the media here would have loved to have been a fly on the wall wherever Cutler was over his eight years at Halas Hall, how interesting will those Friday and Saturday production meetings with John Fox and Mike Glennon be? And how will Cutler handle any mistake from Fox, Glennon or the Bears in general during games? Or maybe he'll turn that over to Davis? Any tension will be broken quickly, as Cutler & Co. are scheduled to call the Bears' third preseason game, against the Tennessee Titans, during a national broadcast Aug. 27.

As JJ Stankevitz, Scott Krinch and I discussed on our latest Bears Talk Podcast (recorded Thursday afternoon before Cutler was officially announced as a new FOX employee), we found it hard to believe Cutler would make the jump this quickly, believing that he'd at least sit tight and wait for the inevitable preseason injuries for an opening around a league that's shut its doors on him so far. Perhaps his surgically repaired shoulder wouldn't have been ready to take the kind of hits he absorbed during his time here.

But Cutler was always an "on my terms" guy with the Chicago media after his splash signing in April 2009. And despite agent "Bus" Cook's public contention on the eve of last week's draft that he didn't see retirement in his client's near future, Cutler probably wanted to operate on his terms here. While not shutting the door on retirement papers in the statement he released through FOX on Friday morning, the guess here is he didn't feel like having to be the guy who gets invited to camp late in an emergency, having to pick up an offense quickly (which he's perfectly capable of doing) and having to still wait his turn for snaps.

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If that's all there's going to be for Cutler's playing career (unless he'd sign with a coach he has a good history with), the final assessment is that he preferred to call his own shots.

During his time here, Cutler was available for a midweek and a postgame press conference during the season. And he'd be a pretty decent listen and share a thing or two if he was asked smart, pointed questions. Eventually, he cooperated with a tolerance for those less inquiring whose knowledge lacked or who'd go in areas he didn't care to address.

Otherwise, he'd be a guest on the team-sponsored radio show once during the season and once for a preseason sitdown interview for the local preseason broadcast. Outside of that, there might be a quick sideline interview once he was lifted in a preseason game and a few one-on-one postgame chats during the year with the radio network's Zach Zaidman. Outside of that, with the exception of a charity event or two along the way, he was allowed his terms, media-wise. That's fine. While I didn't like it, I never personally held it against him for a guy who preferred to limit access. A majority of the guys in any locker room you can just walk up to and chat up after practice without being on record, football topic or not. Cutler made sure, through the team, that wouldn't happen and would barely be seen there during the 45-minute sessions when the media had access three times during a normal week.

It would have been nice, but not necessary, to get to know him better. He was not a "bad" guy. But given the handful of bad looks that cameras caught on the field during games, maybe more exposure could have softened some of that fan and media perception. But the answer to that for him became the running joke that he "didn't care" about those outside opinions.

The scrutiny will be less, the rope a little looser from a smaller number of critics in this new role. There are certain basics and fundamentals in this business, just as there were in the job he's at least temporarily given up. There's no doubt that the first time he criticizes a quarterback's footwork and decision-making, his critics will fire back with a vengeance. He's been a controversial, love-him-or-hate-him player. For publicity purposes, FOX wouldn't mind him creating the same reaction as an analyst. Don't hold your breath on that. But just like his playing days, there's potential there. Let's see how close he reaches it and how far and high he goes.

Patrick Mahomes' injury will have direct impact on NFC North race

Patrick Mahomes' injury will have direct impact on NFC North race

The Kansas City Chiefs and the entire NFL universe nearly imploded Thursday night after reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes suffered a dislocated kneecap in the Chiefs' victory over the Denver Broncos.

It was hard to watch. Not only did it feel like the league was losing its top superstar, but the vision of Chiefs trainers popping Mahomes' right kneecap back into place was, well, unpleasant.

Speculation about how much time Mahomes will miss in 2019 spread like wildfire on Twitter. A range of three weeks to the rest of the season was suggested. After undergoing an MRI Friday, it appears Mahomes will be back sooner than later. He'll miss some games, but not the rest of the season, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Assuming Mahomes misses just three games, his absence will still have a massive ripple effect on the NFC North. Two of the Chiefs' next three games include the Packers and Vikings, both of whom the Bears are jockeying with for divisional supremacy. The Bears, meanwhile, face the Chiefs in Week 16 when all indications suggest Mahomes will be back to firing missiles all over the field.

It's great news that Mahomes avoided a serious injury. It's less than great news that his injury will only hurt Chicago's chances at a second-consecutive division title.

Here's to hoping Mitch Trubisky catches fire over the final 11 games and outduels his 2017 draft classmate in the penultimate game of the season.

Should the Chicago Bears trade for Melvin Gordon?

Should the Chicago Bears trade for Melvin Gordon?

The Chicago Bears running game has struggled mightily in 2019. In fact, it's been downright atrocious. Non-existent. Invisible. Nowhere to be found.

You get the point.

But a good running game has a lot of moving parts. Literally. Most notably, it requires a competent offensive line that consistently creates running lanes for the ball carrier, no matter who it is.

The Bears have a talented young running back on the roster in rookie David Montgomery. They invested a third-round pick on him and there's no indication the team has soured on his long-term projected despite a rough five-week span that's seen the former Iowa State star averaging just 3.3 yards per carry.

His struggles are more than just his own, however. He needs help from his offensive line. Most of his carries result in contact at or near the line of scrimmage, and for a first-year player who's still adjusting to life in the NFL, that just isn't a recipe for immediate success.

Here's the thing with the NFL, though: it's a 'what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league.' So if an upgrade can be had (at any position), the Bears have to at least consider it.

According to former Browns offensive lineman and current NFL Network analyst Joe Thomas, GM Ryan Pace should take a long and hard look at Chargers star, Melvin Gordon.

"I would love to see my Badger, Melvin Gordon, go to the Chicago Bears," Thomas said this week. "They're a team right now with a quarterback that's struggling a little bit. Matt Nagy would love to have a weapon like Melvin Gordon who's great not only running the football, but he's great catching the football out of the backfield.

"The type of weapon that he could be, the security blanket that he could be for Mitch Trubisky would be outstanding for this team. He would give Mitch Trubisky a lot of opportunities to get some easy completions, some throws out of the backfield to start boosting his confidence."

Not the worst idea in the world, but let's be honest: there's no way Pace is going to pull the trigger on a running back who's already expressed his desire to be paid among the elite players at his position despite production that simply doesn't put him on that level.

Sure, Gordon would be a fun and exciting addition for a Bears offense that needs a spark right now, but it's way too early to suggest Montgomery can't be that guy once the offensive line and overall flow of the offense improves.