Bears

Will the 'real' Jay Cutler please stand up?

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Will the 'real' Jay Cutler please stand up?

Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011
2:47 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

If the Seattle Seahawks know as little about Jay Cutler as the general public, the Bears should be in very good shape on Sunday.

As he does most weeks at his standard weekly press conference, the Bears quarterback took questions Wednesday. One was from an out-of-town writer, wanting to know from Cutler how many in the crowded media room really knew Cutler.

I dont know, Cutler said. Youre gonna have to poll these guys, I guess.

A couple of hands attached to senses of humor went up in the back of the room.

Right there, thats one, Cutler said, smiling. Two.

Why is that the case? he was asked.

Because they raised their hands, Cutler said, deftly dodging the real question. I dont hang out with anybody in this room on a regular basis except for Wednesday press conferences. So Im sure its kind of hard to get to know somebody within a 10-minute weekly press conference.

But if his demeanor, the looks away from whoever is talking to him or the other indicators suggest standoffishness, those who see him the most insist thats not the real Jay.

There have been Bears quarterbacks thoroughly disliked by teammates. Cade McNown comes immediately to mind. Jim McMahon had the offensive side of the locker room behind him and some on the defensive side ready to punch him out. Olin Kreutz once had to be restrained from taking out Moses Moreno during a pre-practice snapping drill in training camp.

Derisive comments were made by the likes of Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher about Cutler when he was acquired. But those were taken largely out of context and fell under the general heading of defensive guys considering all quarterbacks a sub-species.

Cutler is nowhere near that list or description.

I probably know him better than yall do, said running back Matt Forte. I will tell you that hes probably the opposite of what you media guys portray him to be. Jays a good guy who comes to work every day to work hard. A lot of guys get this perception of Jay as whatever, arrogant, but I think hes the opposite of that.

Not interested

Of all the quarterbacks remaining in the playoffs Tom Brady, Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Matt Hasselbeck and Cutler Cutler has perhaps the poorest reputation, something that followed him from Denver. (Ben Roethlisberger is also still in the playoffs but neither Cutler nor the rest of the group deserve to be lumped into any reputation or personality sentence with Roethlisberger and his off-field conduct.)

Cutler is active through his foundation in working against diabetes, but his public appearances at schools and such have not always been comfortable experiences for either Cutler or those waiting for him, sources said.

But public perceptions are far less important this time of year than what teammates think of him. Cutler, as quarterbacks routinely do, occasionally attended the traditional weekly offensive line dinner, although that custom was discontinued some weeks ago after being moved to Monday nights.

Cutler and the team have strictly limited his availability to Wednesday press conferences and post-game podium Q&As. So if few people have any real idea what Cutler is like as a person, thats Cutlers choice.

As soon as they put cameras in the huddle and on the sideline and tape everything, which is pretty close, said Kreutz, youll never know who guys really are.

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.

With Roquan Smith and others, Bears moving closer to elite defense in a hurry

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USA TODAY

With Roquan Smith and others, Bears moving closer to elite defense in a hurry

As encouraging as some elements of the 2017 season was for the Bears defense, it wasn’t enough. Ranking in the top 10 in fewest points and yards allowed left linchpins like lineman Akiem Hicks setting “top five” as a declared goal.

With what has happened within the last 13 days – from the first preseason game vs. Baltimore through the long-anticipated arrival of Roquan Smith – the Bears have had arguably seen a handful of developments that could put “elite” within reach of a defense intent on being just that.

The developments have been the play of linebackers Kylie Fitts and Isaiah Irving, and now topped off by the Smith addition. The reasons are obvious – a linebacker-dependent defense (as all 3-4’s inherently are) has moved to the brink of realizing impact from not one, not two, but possibly three.

None is being given a leading role in an already good defense. But what they all represent are high-speed additions in a sport where speed rules and rivals pad-level in importance. Fitts and Irving have flashed off the edges, and Smith was the No. 8 pick of the draft for his speed in getting to targets, followed of course what he does to them when he gets there.

How any change occurs remains to play out, and Vic Fangio has used rotations in his front seven’s. One scenario could be Smith easing in as part of nickel packages, where the Bears have used a 4-2 front and would have Smith and Danny Trevathan as their ILB’s. Likewise, Fitts and Irving present edge options in that package as well as in base 3-4.

Perspective, please

Understand: No criticism of any sort is directed at either of the incumbents. No knock on Nick Kwiatkoski, who has in two seasons and this training camp established himself as an NFL inside linebacker. Nor is it a diss of Sam Acho, who is a physical edge presence with some pass-rush pop. The Bears need both, REALLY need both. 

But the 1983 Bears ranked fifth in the NFL in points allowed with Al Harris as part of a linebacker corps that included Mike Singletary and Otis Wilson. Jim Finks drafted Wilber Marshall in the 1984 first round and Ron Rivera in the second. Harris remained the starter but the Bears also jumped to third in points allowed with Marshall and first the two years after that.

Elite.

Hall of Fame defensive lineman Dan Hampton said years later that Marshall – nicknamed “Pit Bull”by teammates – was the single best individual player on that elite defense, and the player that took things to another level entirely. And as Marshall told Hall of Fame NFL writer Rick “Goose” Gosselin, who created the special-teams ranking system used by every NFL team and now hosts "Talk of Fame Radio:”

"They had Mike [Singletary] sitting on the sidelines when I’m playing middle linebacker on third down. So I wasn’t just a rush guy, like the guys on the end that you see them go 90 percent of the time."

Sounding like a bill of particulars for Smith.

Best guess that Smith – wearing the No. 58 that Marshall wore – will have a new level of impact for a defense that just added a piece with a chance to earn the designation of “elite.”

Fitts and Irving are younger, faster options on the edge. Fitts is bigger and faster (4.69 sec. 40) than Irving, but one can never be too rich, too thin or have too many edge rushers.

And Smith, who had 6.5 sacks last season at Georgia (his only credited sacks in three seasons there), projects to be the fastest Bears linebacker with a documented 4.51-sec. time in the 40 – faster than Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher and…well, you get the point.

And speed is the route to “elite.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How much pressure is on Roquan Smith now that he is finally in the fold?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How much pressure is on Roquan Smith now that he is finally in the fold?

On this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast David Haugh, Mark Gonzales and Leon Rogers join David Kaplan on the panel.

Roquan Smith’s holdout is over. How much pressure is on him now that the first round pick is finally in the fold?

Plus, the panel discusses how Joe Maddon can use grand slam hero David Bote down the stretch and if Tiger Woods is a lock to win a major in 2019.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: