Bulls

Is Cutler the toughest quarterback in the NFL?

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Is Cutler the toughest quarterback in the NFL?

There is something to be said about what your peers say about you. When it comes to Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, its pretty clear how highly his toughness is regarded.

He played tough today, especially after coming back from that hit, Lions linebacker Justin Durant said. It seemed like it was a pretty tough hit that probably hurt him. He showed courage and came back in and played.

The hit Durant mentions of course came in the second quarter from Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Cutlers toughness was displayed when he returned to the field to start the second half after the rib injury temporarily knocked him out of the game before halftime.

Nobody ever said he wasnt tough, Lions defensive end Cliff Avril said. He has to be a tough guy to be starting in the NFL. He did show some toughness when he did go down and came back. Nobody ever questioned his toughness.

The compliments didnt stop with just the opposing team. Bears head coach Lovie Smith took it a step further.

Its what he is, Smith said. Hes a tough guy. Thats what you should have as your Chicago Bear quarterback and he does it time after time. He was in some pain, but he fought through it.

Maybe thats just it. Cutler wasnt just physically tough in Monday nights win over the Lions, but he is tough to the core, from the moment his feet hit the floor in the morning, to the time his head hits the pillow at night. He isnt warm and fuzzy all of the time, but thats part of his toughness.

Think of the toughest people you know. Most of them are stern and sometimes abrasive. But, thats part of what keeps them strong both mentally and physically. They may not always say the right things or be the most understanding in certain situations, but they are usually the most loyal individuals in your life and often times get the most out of you in the end.

Hes tough, Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall said. Being around him, thats what I see on a daily basis.

Marshall and Cutler were both drafted by Denver in 2006 and have since been reunited in Chicago. So I think its pretty safe to say Marshall understands Cutler pretty well. Just like wide receiver Earl Bennett, who has played with Cutler the last few seasons with the Bears and was his teammate at Vanderbilt.

Hes a competitor, Bennett said. Hes one of those guys that no matter how beat up he is, he wants to get back in there and help us win the game.

When Cutler went down the entire stadium fell silent. When he got up the crowd was relieved, but still cautiously optimistic about his return. Backup quarterback Jason Campbell took over for the final minutes of the first half and then everyone wondered if Cutler would be back in the game, or be out a few weeks. Some even feared the worst, a season-ending injury.

When the Bears players made their way back out onto the field after halftime someone was missing. Cutler was not with his teammates on the sideline and thats when many started assuming bad news was surely to follow. Then in one brief moment his figure emerged from the tunnel and the Soldier Field crowd erupted. A few minutes later he returned to action and helped ensure his team got the win and moved to 5-1 on the season.

Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher explains what it was like during the time of unknown.

"Stressful," Urlacher said. "He's tough, man. It looked like he was in pain. We all held our breath a little bit until he came back out there. I'm glad he's okay and finished the game."

When Urlacher says someone is tough, they are tough. Which is why it's not out of the question to say Cutler may be the toughest quarterback in the NFL. He's 10-1 in his last 11 starts and seems committed to the game more than ever before.

He took a beating by opposing pass rushers during the Mike Martz era. He has received criticism for shoving offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb during a Week 2 loss in Green Bay. Since then Webb has been a much-improved player. A few weeks later in Dallas Cutler got grief for walking away from offensive coordinator Mike Tice. The two were seen fist pounding the next week in Jacksonville and now the Bears have the third best record in the NFL and are sitting all alone in first place of the NFC North.

The time for bashing the starting quarterback in Chicago may be coming to an end. The hard-working people of the Windy City now have a signal caller they can relate to. He's not perfect, but nobody is. He's not prolific, but with an elite defense in place he doesn't have to be.

Cutler had his 2010 season ended by a knee injury against the Packers in the NFC Championship. Last season was cut short by a broken thumb in a Week 11 win over the San Diego Chargers. It's pretty simple. Cutler knows the Bears have the talent to win the Super Bowl this season and he's showing they may have the toughness to get them there too.

Bulls Talk Podcast: How NBA Draft combine impacted mock drafts

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: How NBA Draft combine impacted mock drafts

On this edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill discuss the NBA Draft and what happened at the NBA combine that shifted most experts mock drafts.

Kendall also explains why a "promise" to draft a player isn’t guaranteed. He also shares his experience on getting drafted by the Hornets and why he initially felt they were the wrong team for him.

North Carolina "News and Observer" Duke basketball beat writer Jonathan Alexander gives us his opinion on Wendell Carter and the other Duke draft prospects including why he thinks Carter will be a future all-star. Also includes an interview with Carter from the draft combine.

Listen to the full Bulls Talk Podcast right here:

Bears coaching upheavals portend inevitable stumbles

Bears coaching upheavals portend inevitable stumbles

Call it a small Bears reality check, if not a full wake-up call, then at least a nudge in the night. And this sort of thing should be expected, not just in OTAs, not just in training camp or preseason, but when it all counts.

And it should serve as a lesson of sorts. Because some of the underlying reasons are worth a little highlighting and patient understanding around a team that has spent its offseason and millions of dollars refashioning an offense, beginning with coach Matt Nagy and coordinator Mark Helfrich, and that offense wasn’t particularly good on Wednesday.

In a sport where the operative cliché is “just get better each and every day,” the Bears didn’t, but as far as their coach is concerned, “there’s two ways to look at it,” Nagy said. “Whether you say on our side, on offense, trying to see a bunch of different looks a defense can give you, is it too much or not? It’s good for us. It’ll help us out in the long run. It’s good for our players and they’ve handled it well. There’s going to be mistakes but they have it on tape to be able to look at. “

This is about more than just a few bad reps or missed assignments. It’s part of the good-news-bad-news reality that a sea change brings to a team.

The good news is that the Bears have a new coaching staff on offense.

The bad news is that the Bears have a new coaching staff on offense.

The Bears defense is predictably ahead of the offense, hardly a surprise, given that most of the core of the top-10 unit has remained in place. That said, you do have to like the attitude of the barely-above-rookie No. 1 quarterback challenging that assessment Wednesday, with a “Who says that?”

This while the offense has myriad moving and new parts, and interceptions, blown plays and such were occurring for an offense that, like Halas Hall, is a massive building work in progress.

“Well, today was a bad ‘build,’ but that’s to be expected,” Helfrich acknowledged. “We’re adding a chunk each day, I thought today was the first day where we had somebody do something that just like, ‘wait, OK’ – a few positions here and there, a few new guys, obviously a few veterans here and there that it’s all new to, hit the wall.”

It’s a “wall” that arguably is inevitable with a coaching change.

Not to make excuses, but….

For a sense of perspective, scroll back to Jay Cutler, who went through offensive coordinators perhaps faster than he went through socks: a year with Ron Turner, two with Mike Martz, one with Mike Tice, two with Aaron Kromer, one with Adam Gase, one with Dowell Loggains, who at least was a holdover from the Gase year. (Whether Cutler’s failure to match potential with production was the cause of or because of that turnover, this humble and faithful narrator leaves to you, the reader).

More than a few current Bears can only dream of that kind of “stability.” And because of that, the 2018 pre- and regular seasons may be bumpier than the optimism surrounding the Nagy hire was anticipating.

Guard Kyle Long, still not practicing full-go while he rehabs from surgeries, is on his fifth offensive-line coach in six NFL seasons. Center Cody Whitehair, who has started every game since the Bears drafted him in the 2016 second round, has had three different line coaches in as many seasons: Dave Magazu for 2016, Jeremiah Washburn for 2017 and now Harry Hiestand. Left tackle Charles Leno was drafted in 2014, making Hiestand Leno’s fourth O-line coach.

And this is the offensive line, the unit that most engenders use of the term “continuity.”

“Each coach brings in a little bit, different techniques,” Whitehair said. “There’s a lot of time for us to hone in and get to know what he’s trying to teach us. But in the end it’s still football.”

Kevin White is entering his fourth NFL season. He is on his fourth receivers coach (Mike Groh, Curtis Johnson, Zach Azzanni, Mike Furrey) and third different season-starting quarterback (Jay Cutler, Mike Glennon, Mitch Trubisky), not including offseason battery mates ranging from Jimmy Clausen, Brian Hoyer, David Fales and Connor Shaw, depending on how much rep time he spent with which unit at various times during his training camps.

“It doesn’t matter,” White said. “Roll with the punches, come here and do my job every day.”

Regardless of how many bosses you’ve reported to.