Tag:Jay Cutler
Posted on: December 6, 2010 6:20 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2010 7:39 pm
 

Josh McDaniels fired by Denver Broncos

Posted by Will Brinson



The Denver Broncos announced Monday night that owner Pat Bowlen "has relieved" Josh McDaniels of his coaching duties.

This shocking news dropped via the Broncos official Twitter feed and is up on their website with a "details to come" message. This now means that Bowlen is currently paying two head coaches, neither of whom are actually coaching his football team.

McDaniels has a career head coaching record of 11-17, but is just 5-17 since a 6-0 start to the 2009 season. His decisions to trade Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, as well as draft Tim Tebow, drew plenty of scrutiny, and eventually, it seems, he dug himself too deep a grave.

The McDaniels situation is particularly bizarre for a number of reasons, though.

"My decision to relieve Josh McDaniels as head coach was not taken lightly," Bowlen said in a statement released by the team. "I will always be appreciative of his passion, enthusiasm and hard work, and I thank him for his efforts. In the end, I was not satisfied with the results and the direction this team was headed. The decision to make a change was extremely difficult but one that needed to be made for this organization and our fans.

"Everyone, myself included, is accountable for our disappointing season and is now responsible for restoring the culture of winning that has been established by this franchise. Our entire organization is completely focused on returning to the level of prosperity that our fans expect and deserve from the Denver Broncos."

First of all, less than a week ago, Bowlen offered conflicting statements about McDaniels' future (his second straight vote of confidence!), stating that he wasn't making a change in an interview, and then issuing a "we are still evaluating" statement from the team.

Secondly, there's no one on the staff that fits the logical mold for an interim coach a la Jason Garrett or Leslie Frazier. Defensive coordinator Don Martindale was considered a candidate for the Raiders job prior to 2009, but ultimately didn't land the gig. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy has done an arguably great job as a pro coach, turning Jake Delhomme and Kyle Orton into Pro-Bowl contenders.

Additionally, the Broncos' roster is, frankly, just a mess. While the guys on the team might work for McDaniels' purposes, it might not be the case for other high-profile candidates: Tebow is a project at best, Kyle Orton isn't the ideal quarterback for every situation, the team has been stripped of its big-name stars, and the assets acquired in those deals haven't panned out to substantial value for the long-term.

Perhaps the roster issues ultimately ended up being McDaniels' demise -- there was much speculation recently that if McD wasn't fired, he'd end up having to cede some personnel power to a new front-office figure. This is pure speculation, but Bowlen absolutely could have informed McDaniels that he was bringing in someone to help him run the personnel end, and McDaniels politely told him that he wasn't real interested in that, at which point Bowlen relieved him from his gig. (Again, pure speculation, but certainly a possibility.)

And finally, SpyGate Part Deux -- McDaniels was at the helm of the Broncos when the team was busted for videotaping a San Francisco walkthrough in London, and although the league and Broncos concluded that he did nothing wrong in the incident, outside of not reporting it sooner, the public embarrassment probably didn't sit well with Bowlen.

It certainly didn't sit ell with fans, who began calling for his resignation shortly thereafter. In the end, McDaniels will be remembered for a tenure in Denver in which his star shone bright and loud (some might say "foolishly brash" even) early, but ultimately ended up burning out and fading quickly.

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Posted on: December 5, 2010 5:24 pm
 

Hochuli explains Cutler/Suh ruling (VIDEO)

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

With the Bears losing by three but driving down the field, Chicago QB Jay Cutler scrambled near the sidelines, and he took a forearm shiver to the back of his helmet by Lions rookie DT Ndamukong Suh that drew a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.

And while the hit is nasty, it’s unclear if the play was actually illegal. See for yourself in the video below:



After the game, Lions pool reporter Tom Kowalski interviewed referee Ed Hochuli. Said Hochuli (via the Chicago Sun-Times) : "I felt it was an unnecessary non-football act, a blow to the back of the runner's helmet in the process of going down. … "As I saw it, he hit him in the back of the helmet."

Though the announcers wondered if Cutler got preferential treatment because he’s a quarterback, Hochuli said that he did not.

Either way, the Bears got the ball on the Lions 7-yard line. The next play, Cutler found Brandon Manumaleuna for the touchdown to give Chicago a lead it did not relinquish.

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Posted on: November 29, 2010 4:15 am
Edited on: November 29, 2010 1:35 pm
 

10 stories worth your attention Week 12

Posted by Andy Benoit

1. Status quo in prime time


The Indianapolis Colts have always had trouble against 3-4 defenses. The crux of the problem has often been Indy’s shortcomings at the guard position. For years, the Colts fruitlessly attempted to block 3-4 outside linebackers by pulling their guards to the edges in pass protection. Those were the pre-Super Bowl days when Peyton Manning was derisively referred to as a great regular season quarterback. The Colts no longer pull their guards against 3-4 outside rushers, but that doesn’t mean Colts guards aren’t still are major liability against teams like New England, Pittsburgh or, as we saw Sunday night, San Diego. P. Manning (US Presswire)

How big of a bust is Mike Pollak? The ’08 second-round pick can’t even get on the field ahead of Jeffrey Linkenbach, an undrafted rookie tackle-turned-guard who, since you started reading this paragraph, has been driven into the backfield by Antonio Garay two more times. Mike DeVan, the starter on the left side, has been almost equally as inept.

Manning, as a consequence of a shaky offensive line, injuries at running back, receiver and tight end and a few uncharacteristic misreads of his own, has now posted back-to-back three-interception games for the first time since his ’98 rookie season. By the way, on Manning’s third interception, NBC coaxed the audience into believing that Eric Weddle’s pick was the result of an uncalled pass interference penalty. The reality is, Weddle got away with a bit of a hook, yes, but Reggie Wayne went to the ground on his own. It was a calculated gamble by a star receiver who had an unusually terrible night (three drops and the failed fall). That gamble simply backfired.
The headline above – “Status Quo in prime time” – does not apply strictly to the Colts’ issues against 3-4 defenses. It also applies to the fact that we’ve reached the holiday shopping season and Norv Turner’s Chargers are white hot. By now you’ve seen the graph depicting how San Diego’s winning percentage always climbs dramatically with each month of the regular season. The Chargers, with the league’s top-ranked offense AND defense (in terms of yardage) are winners of four straight and head into December as the clear team to beat in the AFC West.

Sunday night was supposed to mark the San Diego passing game’s return to full health. Instead, Antonio Gates remained hobbled by his ailing plantar fascia (Gates played but was not himself) and Vincent Jackson either hurt his calf or found a creative new way to holdout. In response, Philip Rivers morphed into a dink-and-dunk quarterback. Rivers was 19/23, with 10 of those completions going to running backs Mike Tolbert, Jacob Hester and Darren Sproles. It was just another example of Rivers’ malleability as a leader and Turner’s brilliance – yes, brilliance – as an offensive coach.

Colts fans, no need to worry. Your team is 6-5 but still atop the surprisingly mediocre AFC South. The Colts will only get healthier – assuming they don’t pay for stupid mistakes like trotting Manning and Wayne back on the field late in the fourth quarter after having already waved the white flag – and likely cruise to either 10-6 or 11-5. There won’t be the familiar late-season tank job, but that’s not all bad considering the last time this team had to actually play all 16 games was 2006, when it won a Super Bowl. The Colts will have to concoct a plan for those pesky 3-4 defenses though. They’re almost certain to host either the Jets, Patriots, Ravens or Steelers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.



2. So maybe running does matter

A leading factor in the Colts’ three-out-of-four-game losing streak has been the offense’s utter inability to run the ball. The thinking – okay, MY thinking – has been that teams with superstar quarterbacks don’t need to run. The Colts ranked 32nd on the ground last season and nearly went undefeated on their way to a Super Bowl. The year before that, the Cardinals ranked 31st in rushing but won the NFC.

I still think running is overrated for teams with great passers. However, of the 12 lowest-ranked running offenses in the NFL this season, only the Colts, Packers and Saints are legitimate playoff contenders (the Seahawks, technically, are playoff contenders, but their standing membership in the NFC West violates the “legitimate” stipulation). The Colts and Packers both showed on Sunday that it’s one thing to be bad on the ground, while it’s another to be utterly inept. When you’re utterly inept, you become one dimensional.

Indy knew going into the game against San Diego that its run game would be stuffed. That turned out to be one of the few things that went according to plan, as Donald Brown and Javarris James combined for 24 yards on 13 carries. The one-dimensionality of the Colts allowed the Chargers to play downhill the entire night. That helped the pass-rusher unload on Manning, which sparked the turnovers that heavily influenced the game.

Earlier in the day, in the terrific Packers-Falcons game – which we’ll dive into in a moment – Packers running backs managed just 26 yards on 11 carries. (Quarterback Aaron Rodgers inflated the team’s rushing statistics with 12 runs for 51 yards, most of which were improvised scrambles). Green Bay’s ineptitude on the ground hindered Mike McCarthy’s play-calling on more than one occasion late in drives.
So often the offensive line gets blamed for a team’s poor run game. Indeed, the Colts front five is below average. The Packers’ front five is a tick above average, though it can be inconsistent. But in the case of these two teams, the run game problems derive mainly from the running backs themselves.

Both clubs are missing their starters (Joseph Addai has been out since October 17 with a neck injury; Ryan Grant was lost for the season in Week 1 with an ankle injury). The backups have been inadequate. Indy’s Donald Brown is an especially bad NFL runner. He’s indecisive, undersized and, aside from when he’s catching passes in the flats, he’s the opposite of quick. Brown appears destined to be the only first-round pick that Bill Polian has whiffed on. For Green Bay, Brandon Jackson is equally limited. The former second-round pick is decent in the passing game, but as a traditional first-and second-down back, he’s far too lethargic.

Contrary to popular opinion, a running back influences an offensive line more than an offensive line influences a running back. The Colts and Packers are being painfully reminded of this.



3. Time to start talkin’ Dirty Bird

What an absolutely fantastic football game we had in the Georgia Dome Sunday afteM. Turner (US Presswire)rnoon. Just take a look at the drive charts. The Packers had five drives that went either nine-plus plays or 80-plus yards. The Falcons had three such drives, including a pair of 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drives.

Aaron Rodgers made a litany of spectacular individual plays down the stretch, as he was able to buy time against Atlanta’s three-man rush/eight-man zone. It was surprising that Atlanta leaned on this conservative defensive concept. Those who watch ESPN’s brilliant NFL Matchup Show learned Sunday Morning that the Packers love to give Rodgers ample time to throw in the pocket, even if it means employing a six-or seven-man protection scheme. Thus, one figures, a three-man pass-rush is a tactic that plays right into Green Bay’s hands. Indeed, Rodgers spent much of Sunday holding the ball for eternity before lasering passes to his third or fourth read or scrambling to move the chains.

The only negative about Rodgers’ game-tying fourth down touchdown strike to Jordy Nelson was that it came with 56 seconds still left on the clock. That was enough time for Matt Ryan to complete four consecutive passes for a total of 20 yards to set up Matt Bryant’s game-winning 47-yard field goal. (The Falcons began that drive on the 50 after Eric Weems’ 40-yard kick return was buttressed by a 15-yard facemasking penalty.)

Ryan was as efficient as a Google search Sunday, but the hero for Atlanta was Michael Turner. The thundering Pro Bowler went over 100 yards for the sixth time this season and fourth time in five games. Turner carried the ball at least 23 times in all four of those 100-yard games. (Surprisingly, Jason Snelling has slid from being the “two” of a 1-2 punch to being a scantly-used backup.)

The Falcons seem intent on hitching their wagon to a true workhorse running back. This 1990’s mentality suits Mike Mularkey and his tight end/fullback-heavy offense well. Turner has responded in large part because, unlike a lot of teams that rely heavily on a power runner, the Falcons are not handcuffed by mediocrity in the passing game. Roddy White has been the best wide receiver in the NFC this season (he easily leads the conference in both receptions and yards) and Tony Gonzalez (six catches, 51 yards and a touchdown Sunday) remains of Hall of Fame caliber.

There’s still a long ways to go, but the Falcons, at 9-2, are on track for homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs. That’s significant considering Ryan is 19-1 in the Georgia Dome.



4. Da Bears

Who would have guessed that a “homefield advantage” mention would be an appropriate segue to the Chicago Bears? The heater beneath Lovie Smith’s seat was officially switched off after the Bears held off the electrifying Eagles and improved to an NFC North-best 8-3. How’d they do it? The same way they did it the previous three weeks: by running the ball effectively enough to give the offense the necessary balance to execute Mike Martz’s scheme.
E. Bennett (US Presswire)
Early in the season, Jay Cutler was dropping back to throw on every down, and teams were able to tee off against Chicago’s unathletic front five. In the past month, however, Martz has taken more to calling Matt Forte’s number. Forte, averaging 18.5 carries per game his past four outings, has been 80 percent stellar, 20 percent spectacular (he had 117 yards on 14 carries against the Eagles).

The running game itself has not propelled Chicago – the THREAT of the running game has. Having just enough balance to keep defenses guessing is what has allowed the Bears to successfully usher in two new starting tackles (Frank Omiyale on the left side and rookie JaMarcus Webb on the right side).

It helps that Jay Cutler is playing well. Cutler’s career-high four touchdowns against the Eagles were a showcase of the quarterback’s arm strength and of the now clearly-defined roles of Chicago’s receivers. Earl Bennett and Greg Olsen have become the preferred red zone targets (Bennett found the end zone twice; Olsen found the end zone for a second time in three games). Johnny Knox is the explosive speedster between the 20’s. Devin Hester – finally! – is being used the gadget weapon in the slot. (By the way, why did the Bears replace Hester at kick returner a few times with Daniel Manning on Sunday? Manning glides with scintillating speed, but we’ve been over this with Chicago: Hester is the greatest return ace of all-time. Watching the Bears re-insert him at kick returner one week but de-insert him a few times the following week is like watching someone trying to quit smoking. Old stupid habits die hard; the Bears still have not completely broken their old stupid habit of inexplicably removing Hester from special teams.)

The Bear defense has been as impressive as the offense, thanks to the familiar excellence of the linebackers and the emergence of Julius Peppers (he’s been far more valuable than his six sacks on the season suggest). Offense, defense and special teams are all clicking in Chicago. Unlike September, this wave of success is a product of continuity. Get used to the Bears – you’ll be seeing a lot of them in a few weeks. They have a trap game at Detroit in Week 13 but then a matchup with the Patriots that could get flexed into primetime in Week 14. After that, it’s their annual Monday night showdown against the Vikings.

Speaking of the Vikings…



5. Minnesota sticks it to Brad Childress

Did you see the way the players serenaded Leslie Frazier after their win at Washington Sunday? There was the Gatorade shower (imagine Chilly getting one of those. Seriously, just imagine it. You can’t, can you?). There were the handshakes and smiles. And there was Brett Favre handing Frazier the game ball. Nice touch, Brett.

The Vikings-Redskins game itself wasn’t much to write home about. Both teams had strapping opening drives (Minnesota seven plays, 71 yards for a touchdown; Washington 13 plays, 83 yards for a touchdown) but did little after that. Both quarterbacks posted pedestrian numbers. Adrian Peterson left in the first half with an ankle injury (he wanted to go back in but instead got scheduled for an MRI Monday). There weren’t many defensive plays of note, aside from E.J. Henderson’s diving interception off a bad Santana Moss deflection.

At the end of the day, this was an uneventful contest between what are now two non-playoff contenders. So why is it one of 10 stories worth your attention? Because it still gave us a chance to refer to the Childress-Favre drama again.



6. Poor Stevie

Who knows why Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson dropped that surefire game-winning touchdown against the Steelers in overtime. Perhaps Johnson was thinking somewhere in the back of his mind about his four previous drops on the afternoon. Perhaps he succumbed to the incredulity about his sudden emergence that everyone else has experienced at some point this season (it’s still hard to believe that this unknown Kentucky product has been as good as he has). Or, perhaps the Steelers secondary put in a special little request to their buddy upstairs during one of those prayer circles that they frequently conduct on the sideline during games (you know, those prayer circles that cameras always catch but that no broadcaster has had the gall to acknowledge yet?) S. Johnson (US Presswire)

If you asked Johnson to pick one of those three, he’d probably pick the prayer circle. He seemed to have a rift with God after the game. Check out the 24-year-old’s tweet: “I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO...”

Since God has already been dragged into this, has anyone from the Bills considered asking Him for a hand in run defense? As heartbreaking as the Bills’ most recent overtime loss was, the cold reality is the outcome was a result of Pittsburgh ramming the ball down their throats. The game began with the Steelers marching 78 yards on 13 plays, nine of which were runs, for a score. The game ended with the Steelers marching 58 yards on 13 plays, nine of which were, again, runs, for a score.

The Bills came into Sunday allowing a league-worst 167.4 yards on the ground. The Steelers rushed for 206 yards on 45 carries. Rashard Mendenhall, who is fast becoming the premiere fourth quarter closer in the NFL, had a jarring 36 carries for 151 yards (how’s that for getting ready to face a physical Ravens defense in Week 13?).

One other note from this game: the magnificence of Troy Polamalu. After missing practice all week with a muscle strain near his Achilles, the superstar safety made a game-saving interception near the goal-line late in regulation and unloaded several open field tackles in overtime.




7. The Bucs are who we thought they were

Look, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not an elite team. Their loss at Baltimore dropped them to 0-4 against teams with a winning record. It was a fairly convincing loss that followed the script. In fact, instead of reading a recap of the game, go ahead and read the Key Matchup breakdown from Friday – it’s all the same.

So the Bucs are not an elite team. And their outcomes are predictable. Okay, fine. But you know what else they are? They’re a young upstart club that’s 7-4 because they know how to take advantage of inferior opponents. The loss at Baltimore was similar to the loss at Atlanta in that the Bucs came to play but ran into a better team. They get a crack at the Falcons again next week. It’s likely they’ll drop to 7-5. But after that, the Bucs face the Redskins, Lions and Seahawks. From a pure mathematical standpoint – and seriously, that’s all this is here – this team’s patterns in 2010 suggests that a 10-win season is still in order.



8. Suspend them both

The Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan fight: Whoa! Fines are on the way. If the league is wise, so are suspensions. Johnson was throwing genuine haymakers at a player on the ground who was wearing no helmet. True, the normally reserved receiver has a clean track record. But if those punches were thrown in the NBA or in MLB, there’d be a multiple-game suspension. The violent nature of football casts a different light on fighting in the NFL, but that wasn’t a football fight – it was a FIGHT fight. Sit him down a game.
A. Johnson (US Presswire)
Finnegan should be suspended, too, on the grounds of being a repeat jackass. Not joking here. Just like multiple misdemeanors can eventually equal a felony in our justice system, Finnegan’s continuously chippy play needs to be curtailed with a felonious punishment. Every week the guy is drawing flags or small fines for various personal fouls. He’s not even a superstar yet we all recognize his face simply because he loses his helmet in a scuffle seemingly at least twice a game.

Finnegan’s antics after the fight were just as appalling. He was grinning and jabbering at the Texans bench. When he left the field, he raised his arms to mockingly pump up the Houston crowd. It would have been cute if not for the fact that Titans were getting thumped 17-0 at that point. Who does Finnegan think he is, Vince Young?

Because Finnegan was an unheralded seventh-round draft pick, we’ve all championed his behavior as feistiness and scrappiness. We praise him for having one of those chips on the shoulders. But Finnegan’s actions have gotten to the point of bush-league.
Back in October, the league issued the cornerback a warning about his dirty hits and behavior. The league now has a chance to act harshly on that warning.




9. Dwayne Bowe

I’ve been holding out on a Dwayne Bowe feature these past few weeks. I haven’t been able to shake the fear that the second I step in this guy’s corner, he’ll pull the rug out from under me. But after his 13-catch, 170-yard, three-touchdown performance at Seattle (convincing win on the road for the Chiefs, by the way), I’m willing to take the risk and trumpet the fourth-year pro’s maturation.

Bowe no longer pays rent in Todd Haley’s doghouse. And he no longer drops passes with regularity. He’s gone over 100 yards receiving in each of his last three games, and he’s caught a touchdown pass in a team-record seven straight outings. (Even more remarkable is that he’s had multiple touchdowns in six of those outings.)

Bowe is sculpted like a possession receiver, though he’s become a downfield target as well. All the more impressive is that he’s doing this even though the Chiefs don’t have an authentic No. 2 wideout (Chris Chambers has less than 200 yards receiving on the season).

Bowe will have plenty of chances to prove – or, I guess now, verify – his merits during Kansas City’s playoff push these final weeks. He faces Champ Bailey next week, Quintin Jammer in Week 14, the formerly scrappy but currently bush-league Cortland Finnegan in Week 16 and Nnamdi Asomugha in Week 17.



10. Quick Hits

***Sam Bradford took advantage of a Broncos defense that refused to rush the passer by logging his first 300-yard game as a pro. The Rams, 5-6, are now in first place of the sickening NFC West.

***It was just like old times Sunday: Jake Delhomme threw two interceptions (including an inexcusable pick-six to Captain Munnerlyn) and managed to give the Panthers a loss.

***What are the odds that Chris Johnson’s worst game as a pro (sevenD. Garrard (US Presswire) carries for five yards) would come in sixth-round rookie quarterback Rusty Smith’s starting debut? The Titans ran just 44 plays Sunday (32 less than the Texans).

***Arian Foster carried the ball 30 times for 143 yards. He’s been by far the best running back in the AFC this season.

***The best part about Shaun Smith’s touchdown run for the Chiefs was Pete Carroll’s dumbfound expression after it.

***Speaking of Carroll, what the hell was he doing calling timeouts as the Chiefs were extending the courtesy of kneeling on the ball with a 42-24 lead?

***Don’t know how I got all the way to Quick Hits before mentioning the Jaguars-Giants game….I watched virtually this entire contest and loved every minute of it. The game, in a nutshell, was this: Jaguars dominated on the ground in the first half and David Garrard played well because of it. In the second half, the Giants forced the Jags to play more through the air. Garrard suddenly became shaky in protecting the football, and ultimately New York’s dynamic front four was too much for Jacksonville. That’s the game in a nutshell. And, come to think of it, that’s probably the 2010 Jaguars in a nutshell, too.

***The best one-on-one matchup Sunday may have been Ravens wideout Derrick Mason against Bucs corner Aqib Talib. On the mano-a-mano front, I’d say the youngster got the better of this one (how about Talib’s interception between the knees, huh?). But from an all-encompassing standpoint, the nod obviously goes to Mason. He led all players with 87 yards on eight catches, including an important touchdown out of the slot in front of coverage liability Sean Jones.

***If the Raiders weren’t blacked out all the time, everyone would be talking about rookie receiver/kick returner Jacoby Ford. He’s one of the most explosive big-play creators in the NFL. He had his second kick return for a touchdown Sunday, and he added another score in going over 100 yards receiving.

***The best part about Sunday was that there were six early window games and five late window games. Why can’t we get that kind of scheduling balance every week?


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Posted on: November 29, 2010 3:48 am
Edited on: November 29, 2010 4:20 am
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Posted on: November 18, 2010 11:47 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2010 12:27 am
 

The Chicago Bears: Confounding contenders

Posted by Will Brinson



At 7-3, the Bears are confusing enough that it's impossible to bust out the old Denny Green "they are who we thought they are" line, because, well, how are they winning? (Although, congratulations on becoming the first franchise ever to win 700 games. Double congrats to the NFL Network for not having giant blue and orange fireworks explode on my screen.)

Their rushing attack is weak as can be (although it looked better in the second half), Jay Cutler continues to make poor decisions and play mediocre at the quarterback position (he hasn't had a QB rating above 100 since Week 2) and yet, here we are, 11 weeks into the season and they're on top of the division and currently locked into the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

"We're 7-3," Cutler said following the win. "We're looking good in the north division and we just have to keep getting better and better. This is the time of year when you want to play your best ball, and as long as we keep winning games and getting better and better we're gonna give ourselves a chance."

Cutler also threw props to the offensive line and the defense, as he should -- the offensive line allowed three sacks, but one was in relative garbage time and if that's all you cough up in a Cameron Wake - Frank Omiyale matchup, well, you've done yeoman's work.

As for the defense, they had a pretty easy gig going against a Miami offense that looked completely out of sorts: Tyler Thigpen couldn't do what he needed to do in order to succeed because the offensive line lost Cory Procter early and was forced to adjust on the fly.

And frankly, there's no real way to compete without your top center, your top two quarterbacks and your No. 1 wide receiver -- in a short week, no less -- against a top-five NFL defense, which the Bears are.

"We thought they'd try and run it, you know, and they didn't," Urlacher said. "And we kind of got after them a little bit and they started throwing it around."

Urlacher's spot on -- Tyler Thigpen was the top rusher for the Dolphins, picking up 27 yards on six carries. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams? 11 yards on six carries.

Part of that is on the Bears' defense, part of that is on a torn-up offensive line, and part of that is on a poor gameplan. Not that it matters -- the Dolphins are donecakes when it comes to the 2010 season, given what they have to work with on offense from here on out, and given how far behind the rest of the AFC contenders they are (mathematically, of course, they're still in it, but I mean, come on).

But maybe the Bears are a contender. It just seems odd to think that way considering how porous the offensive line was to begin the season, and how lucky they looked picking up some wins early.

But Chicago scrapes by on offense, dominates on defense and utilizes Devin Hester's special talents to give themselves just enough of an edge and win games, even if it's not in a pretty fashion.

So, yeah, they're the Chicago Bears. Maybe we do know.

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Posted on: November 18, 2010 10:05 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2010 11:31 pm
 

Brandon Marshall out with hamstring injury

Posted by Will Brinson

Shortly before halftime -- but after he drew a flag for slinging the ball at Jay Cutler following a catch -- Brandon Marshall was carted to the locker room with a hamstring injury.

The Dolphins announced that his return is questionable, but considering the way in which things unfolded, there's a good chance he's done for the night.

Marshall had to be helped off the field after hurting his hamstring and was eventually carted off the field.

Marshall had been dealing with the hamstring throughout the week and suddenly it appears the Dolphins could be stuck without their top two quarterbacks, their starting center and their No. 1 wide receiver for the rest of the game.

Marshall appeared on the sideline in street clothes with about five minutes remaining in the third quarter, meaning he's done for the night. Also meaning: Miami, in a 9-0 hole at the time, has a lot of work to do and very few weapons with which to do said work.

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Posted on: November 18, 2010 9:37 pm
 

Marshall throws ball at Cutler, gets flagged

Posted by Will Brinson

Brandon Marshall has all the physical tools to be one of the best receivers in the NFL. No question about it. (He may also be an awesome NFL studio analyst too. So there's that.)

Only problem is, dude's got some sort of screw loose in his brain and, for whatever reason, can't seem to keep his temper under control. Or, if you don't think he's "angry," you can make the case that he just can't stop doing really dumb things with the football after he gets a hold of it.

For instance, he's notorious for punting the ball in practice, last week against Tennessee he threw the ball in the stands and cost his team five yards and then on Thursday night, after picking up a critical first down for the Dolphins, he ran out of bounds and threw the ball at Jay Cutler. Naturally, he was flagged for taunting and cost the Dolphins 15 yards.



Really, the only upside is that he got Cutler to make a funny face, but something tells me that won't make Tony Sparano forgive him for the 15-yarder.

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Posted on: November 18, 2010 2:36 pm
 

The real key to Bears-Dolphins matchup

Posted by Andy Benoit
C. Wake (US Presswire)
Everyone is talking about Julius Peppers facing Jake Long and his injured left shoulder Thursday night, but the more significant pass-rushing matchup in this game will be on the other side of the action. Miami’s Cameron Wake has blossomed into one of the premier defensive forces in the NFL. The ex-Canadian League superstar leads the AFC with 8.5 sacks on the season and, for the most part, he’s been stout against the run.

Wake’s supple athleticism is buttressed by good initial quickness and underrated strength. Neither Bear offensive tackle – Franks Omiyale or seventh-round rookie J’Marcus Webb – has a prayer at blocking him one-on-one. But if Chicago can find away to contain Wake through chips and tight end double teams, there will be at least four or five big plays on the table for Jay Cutler.

Reason being, the callow Dolphins secondary has proved to be erratic in diagnosing route combinations. No. 2 cornerback Sean Smith has looked particularly vulnerable (which is partly why he was benched at one point this season), and second-year free safety Chris Clemons is not yet consistent enough to constantly pick up the slack (plus Clemons is better near the box than in centerfield). When given time to develop, Chicago’s complex route combinations are some of the most aggressive and effective in the game.

For any time facing the Bears, it’s crucial to get pressure on Cutler. For the Dolphins, it’s vital.

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