Bears

Frankie O's Blog: The People vs. Jay Cutler

Frankie O's Blog: The People vs. Jay Cutler

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011
5:03 p.m.

By Frankie O
CSNChicago.com

It isnt a trial, but it sure feels like one. From the moment that he was injured in the NFC Championship game, people have taken sides and its the argument that has consumed a city, if not a nation. Where I work is a different kind of court, one where facts arent always the deciding factor. It is a court where perceptions rule, it is the court of public opinion. Its one where Im an arbiter every day. Short of someone breaking the law, I dont know if I have ever seen a case like this one.

The defendant is one different dude. He has taken the act of walking to the beat of a different drummer to stratospheric heights. The perception of him publicly is that he does not care about ANYTHING. It is one thing to have a detached cool about you, but past that is an arrogant smugness and that is where most people think he resides. This is an accusation that has dogged him for a long time, longer than he has been in the public eye. Why would a quarterback of his talents end up at Vanderbilt? You tell me. See? Thats how it works. You can put the puzzle together without having all the pieces as long as it seemingly makes sense. (This especially happens after a few coldies and I sometimes need to swat reality back into the face of someone who is reaching.) In his early years at Denver, we all remember the verbal spats with Philip Rivers and on-field officials and the growing perception that he was a punk. In fact, I had a QB from the upcoming Super Bowl XLV say that to my face. Its no wonder Jay Cutler has horrible body language, due to the amount of baggage hes carrying.

In an event that would change the direction of the Bears for the next generation Josh McDaniels took over the Denver Broncos and immediately decided that Cutler was not his kind of guy and promptly traded him to the highest bidder, your, Chicago Bears. Who won in that transaction is still up for debate. That McDaniels has since been proven to have his own issues and was in way over his head has not benefitted Cutler at all. The public PERCEPTION of that time, that Cutler threw a hissie when he became aware of McDaniels shopping of his talents, and in diva-like fashion demanded to get out of town, has remained. Although I would ask, how would you have reacted if the young genius decided he could do better than you as soon as he walked in the door? Thought so. Interestingly, I rarely hear about the comments that Cutler supposedly made comparing himself in a more than positive light to Denver icon John Elway before he ever played a game there. Unless, that is, Im talking to a Broncos fan, their venom is in no short supply.

The trade created an euphoria amongst Bears fans, for they finally, after generations of waiting, had their franchise QB. The Summer of Cutler was as fun as it got without winning a game. Hope truly sprung eternal, and the sky was the limit. I sold a ton of Bears kool-aid at the bar and the faithful wanted even more. Then, unfortunately, the season began. Talk about a buzz-kill, its not easy throwing 26 interceptions in the NFL, but it wasnt that god-awful amount of picks that was the worst thing. Yeah, there was something worse! It was media Jay. I have never in my life seen someone whos every move and reaction got picked apart for evaluation by the masses. That being said, I dont know any athlete who has ever repeatedly looked worse. You can not say Jay Cutler without talking about his body language. On the field it looks bad, in a press conference or on TV it looks ten times more so, with a smirk added for good measure. Whether it is intended or not doesnt matter. Whether he can control it or not, at this point, does not matter either. Its there for all to see and has become a focal point for all of his bashers, of which there is a large number, with their ranks growing every day. I always thought that the Denver folks were a little over-the-top bitter about him, but after watching for a while, you could begin to understand.

But as always, performance has a way to smooth out ones rough edges. Am I right Ben Roethlisberger? If you win, your packagebaggage becomes a little more tolerable and if you win big, it can almost be accepted. Thats just Jay being Jay. I teased Bear fans all week, even the few I saw sporting his jersey, that all it took was a playoff win for everyone to begin to accept him. But even the ones wearing the jersey would admit doing so in public was a full-time job. I would imagine only wearing an Eagles 7 Mike Vick jersey would be more work, unless that is you could find a 32 O.J. Simpson Bills retro.

Better or worse, he was the QB for this town, leading the Bears into the biggest game ever played in this city. Any analysis of the game and its outcome always depended on what would be considered the games wild-card factor and that was the play of Cutler. It wasnt quite the good Rex-bad Rex of 2006, but is really close, although, from his play in the game it was difficult to tell any difference in the two Indiana natives. For any number of reasons his play was not good. But as we all know, that is not what we will remember about this game. Our lasting image will be of him sitting on the sidelines, looking like he would rather be anywhere else.

The debate over his injury and his ability to deal with it, although unfair in many ways, is one that will be had because he is the on-field leader of a team that was playing for a berth in the Super Bowl. If you want to be the man, and get paid like one, you better be able to deal with what comes your way like one. Having Deion Sanders question Cutler, when he never made a tackle in his life, is a joke. But who takes Prime seriously anyway? Hes paid to be a TV funnyman these days, sitting next to his old White House roommate Michael Irvin, trading NFL yuck-yucks. And Jason Whitlock? Honestly?! Seems to me hes trying to fill the void left by the absence of the former Sun Times columnist as someone who will only type inflammatory comments. At least Jay could write. This being said, there are many questions that need to be answered about the injury and how it was handled. My main question is: Why wasnt he getting treatment for his knee if it was the straintear that we are being told? Isnt the critical part of dealing with such an injury putting ice on it as soon as possible so that the swelling can be controlled so that the knee could be fit with a brace if it would be needed in say, 2 weeks?

This is where the Cutler indictment starts. Rightly or wrongly, because he was not taken off the field on a stretcher, his toughness is being questioned. I dont think this line of questioning would be asked of a lot of other athletes. For two reasons it is: First, Cutler has not made a lot of friends in the media which is now bashing him. Second, it seems the Bears are in over their heads in dealing with their Cutler situation. They know hes a lightning-rod, but do they help diffuse any of the situations which he has gotten himself into? Why is there so much venom? Did this just happen? Hes a person who is need of some help and you would think if hes one of your prized assets you would help him, or demand, that he get it from someone else, say a professional.

The shots of Cutlers disengagement brought a weird feeling over the bar. Not knowing what happened or why he was just standing there looking into outer-space was not painting a good picture for the face of the franchise. I do not question the fact that he was hurt. Unless it is you, you will not understand what he is going through. But because of the reaction to his injury, it about time that he, and the Bears, realize that the way things have been done, is not working. Not saying that he has to change, but he can at least try to play the game. Im with Barkley in that all athletes are not role models, but most of them can be used to teach the right and wrong way to handle a situation since they tend to live their lives in very public ways. Part of the maturity of any person is to understand that there might be better ways to do things, that just because you think that something should be done in a certain way, makes it the ONLY way it should be done.

I have found myself defending Jay a lot at the bar, and on TV, this year. I only met him once, but I got a good vibe off of talking to him and I usually trust my instincts, as jaded as I am. But my defending him in animated bar conversations does not matter. What matters is whether he wants to defend himself. I know he may not believe it, but people do want to give him a chance, he just has to let them in, show them that he can be their guy. For as much as he does not want to admit it, being a quarterback, in a major U.S. city is a big thing and comes with a lot of responsibility. He can view it that way and find a path forward that hopefully wont be as painful as the one hes on now, or he can look back many years from now and wonder if only he did things differently. Its his choice.
But for sure, well be watching. For in the court of public opinion, there are no mandatory sentences or statute of limitations. Theres just a constant docket that occupies our attention. Any decision can be over-turned, the public just needs a reason to do so.

Postcards from Camp: Defense predictably ahead of offense but “D” already being challenged by changing “O"

Postcards from Camp: Defense predictably ahead of offense but “D” already being challenged by changing “O"

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – An open postcard from the Bears “D”:
 
Yes, we know we need more interceptions. And we’re doing something about it, even if Mitch doesn’t like it – quarterbacks never do. Tru’ probably wasn’t in a great mood after Nick Kwiatkoski picked his way through traffic, then deflected and grabbed a pass of Mitch’s for one pick, this after Kyle (Fuller) had snagged one of 10’s in 7-on-7. So after Cre’Von LeBlanc broke in front of Adam Shaheen to intercept one of Chase Daniel’s throws, Mitch and Prince (Amukamara) did a little jawing. But hey….
 
Kwit is having a great camp, running the offense with Danny Trevathan nursing a hamstring problem and Roquan Smith still not signed. Coach Nagy has told us, and said it again on Sunday, that you have to win your job, no gimmes here, and Kwit isn’t giving anything away.
 
We all were kind of causing problems for the offense. Prince broke up a Mitch throw to Kevin White and then defensed another two snaps later against Josh Bellamy. Kyle broke up a long try to White, too, and even in 7-on7, the QB’s were having to hold onto the ball longer because of good coverage.
 
(Kevin had a spotty day. He burned us with a long TD catch against double coverage but also dropped another Mitch Trubisky deep heave with no one closer than five yards away, and had the football come out when he hit the ground after another catch.)
 
We even created a “problem” for coach Nagy, who’s an offensive guy, an ex-QB himself and a former O-coordinator, but now has to pretend be at least a little happy when we do something on defense. Like he said Sunday, ‘The biggest difference [as a head coach] is you can't veer too much, either way. You're right down the middle. So, if Mitch throws an interception, it's good for our defense. Right? It's not good for Mitch. So, how do you balance that?”
 
Really, we should be ahead of the offense. Two reasons: First, the offense is still learning its playbook and a lot of new guys; and second, as Eddie [Jackson] was saying, “I just know that we’ve got better chemistry from having players here last year. It’s like the biggest thing that you can see. But the offense is doing a great job. They come out there and give us good looks.”
 
The pads were on for Sunday’s practice, so there was more hitting. The offense’ll be catching up more and more, so we’ll just enjoy the edge while it lasts.
 
Sincerely,
 
The “D”
 
P.S.  High-fives to all you fans who came down to watch practice and stayed through all that rain. We’re getting paid to be out there but you’re there because you’re Bears fans. Thanks

 
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Let’s make if official
 
Play during practice Sunday was sloppy at times, understandable given the repeated downpours as well as the inevitable early-camp learning curves.
 
But the practice was run using NFL officials, making their annual camp visits to review and explain new rules, and the Bears committed too many penalties to leave coaches satisfied.
 
Rookie wide receiver Anthony Miller was flagged for offensive pass interference on an early 7-on-7 rep and a handful of other Bears brought out the yellow laundry from the officials. One defensive offsides, a couple of false starts and other interference penalties—all part of those things to be “cleaned up” before the flags start to count.
 
*                          *                          *
 
A-Rob impact—and workload—growing
 
The No. 1 question of anyone who’s been watching training camp is “How’s Trubisky look?” Not far behind that, though, is “What about Robinson? His knee ok?”
 
If early camp performances, including Sunday’s in full pads, are any indicator, and a handful of practices aren’t ever definitive, then the answers on the hoped-for franchise wideout are clear positives. The top free-agent signing of the Bears this offseason has turned in repeated strong plays and has been targeted enough in the course of Trubisky’s progressions to be satisfied at his ability to get open and to earn his quarterback’s confidence.
 
Robinson turned in a difficult sliding catch on Sunday and was denied a deep catch later only by an outstanding pass breakup by safety Adrian Amos. Robinson is coming off season-ending knee surgery of a year ago and likely has a handful of rest days built into his plan, as the Bears are doing with guard Kyle Long. 
 
“We want to be able to monitor and make sure we don’t overdo anything,”said coach Matt Nagy. “There’s no need to do that. He’s worked really hard to get to this point so for us, just to keep an idea where he’s at, how many reps he’s getting, and coach [Mike] Furrey’s done a good job of that.”
 
 
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Fan favorite…sort of
 
This writer was departing O’Hare some weeks back and at an adjacent gate was Bears running back Tarik Cohen. Just time to exchange a few pleasantries and I was leaving. But the notable part of the moment was that no one – no…one —recognized Cohen. No. one.
 
Then came Saturday morning and the first day of fans attending a training-camp practice. The biggest ovation went to quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Not far short of that, however, was the welcome for Cohen, a hint that the second-year ultra-back (with apologies to Raymont Harris, the original Ultraback) won’t go unnoticed at too many more O’Hare gates.
 
“A couple people knew me in the airport,” Cohen said. “I was just keeping my head down, keeping it moving. Airports are congested places.”
 
An ovation coming out to practice “feels great,” Cohen said. “It’s like seeing your hard work pay off a little bit. But I’m looking for a bigger ovation coming out for the games.”
 
*                          *                          *
 
Sick bay
 
Rookie linebacker linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe was added to a defense-heavy list of injured absentees, out with what coach Matt Nagy reported was a shoulder injury. He joins linebackers Aaron Lynch and Danny Trevathan and cornerback Sherrick McManis, all with hamstring strains.
 
Tight end Daniel Brown is still out with an ankle injury.
 

Report: Bulls sign former Arizona Wildcat Rawle Alkins to two-way contract

rawle.jpg
USA TODAY

Report: Bulls sign former Arizona Wildcat Rawle Alkins to two-way contract

A report on Sunday from Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports indicated that the Bulls have agreed to a two-way contract with former Arizona Wildcat Rawle Alkins. 

The 6'5'' guard was a teammate of Lauri Markkanen on the 2017 Wildcats, and many expected him to be a potential lottery pick after showing off the all-around skill set that also made him the top player in the state of New York in high school.

After going undrafted, Alkins played for the Toronto Raptors Summer League team, where he put up 9 points, 4.67 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. In the six  Las Vegas Summer League games he played in, Alkins shot poor from the field (37 percent) and the free throw line (62.5 percent), but he knocked down his 3-pointers, shooting 43.9 percent on a healthy 3.5 attempts from deep per game. 

There is an obvious fit on the Bulls for a player like Alkins. He was a career 36.5 percent 3-point shooter in his two college seasons, and has the physical profile of a great wing defender at the NBA-level. Alkins has a 6'9'' wingspan, and at a listed 220 lbs., it is easy to see him having the potential to guard four-to-five different positions on the floor. At this stage of the rebuild, the Bulls could really use as many of the coveted "3-and-D" wings as they can get. And there are some, like, The Ringer's Chris Vernon, who think that Alkins has the potential to become a glue guy.

Alkins will be a fan favorite wherever he plays. You want a Marcus Smart, Tony Allen, or P.J. Tucker–type player when you need a big play in a big game. I see that with Alkins.

-The Ringer's Chris Vernon 

The nature of the two-way contract means that Bulls fans will to catch some Windy City Bulls games to see Alkins in action. But much like Antonio Blakeney last season, we could see Alkins make an instant impact in the G League and get a call-up sooner than later, especially if the Bulls decide to move on from veteran Justin Holiday.

Either way, the pick up is a shrewd move by the Bulls front office. Alkins is a well-rounded, defense-first player who will be joining a young roster overstocked with scoring talent, but thin on defenders capable of guarding on the perimeter or executing a switching defense at a high level.