Tag:Chicago Bears
Posted on: September 29, 2011 9:17 am

New book brings shocking Walter Payton news

There were some shocking revelations made in a new book about Walter Payton (AP).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

It’s one of the most-anticipated sports books to hit the shelves in time for the holidays, but on Wednesday, Jeff Pearlman’s biography about Walter Payton -- titled Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton -- got much bigger publicity. It’s to be excerpted in this week’s Sports Illustrated, and to help hype the book, which drops Oct. 4, some of the scandalous news that emerges from it was released.

Like, for example, Payton abused pain-killing drugs during and after his career, contemplated suicide at some points of his life and maintained mistresses on the side of his marriage.

That last point created a potentially big problem at Payton’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony when his girlfriend insisted on attending despite the fact his wife was going to be there as well.

"The introduction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is supposed to be the greatest moment in his life," Ginny Quirk, Payton’s executive assistant, told Pearlman. "And in truth, it was probably the worst. Four full days, and Lita and Connie were like two ships passing in the night. If Connie was scheduled to come late, I'd make sure Lita was there early. If Connie was there early, Lita would be there late. I can't describe the horror of that trip."

In response to the excerpts of the book, the Bears released the following statement: "When we take the field each Sunday, we represent the great players like Walter who helped build the rich tradition of our organization. Nothing will change our feelings for a man we have the deepest respect for and miss having around Halas Hall to this day."

For Pearlman’s part, he says he set out to write about Walter Payton in full. Not just about the positives that you might know, but about the secrets you probably don’t.

“It hurts me that this will hurt his kids,” Pearlman told SI.com. “It really does because Jarrett and Brittney are wonderful, engaging, fun, caring people and they're really uplifting figures in the Chicago landscape ... That said, I set out to write a definitive biography -- period. When people would ask, 'Well, is this going to be positive?' I'd say, 'Not positive, not negative -- definitive.'"

The Payton family, via the Chicago Tribune, also released a statement: "Walter, like all of us, wasn't perfect. The challenges he faced were well known to those of us who loved and lived with him. He was a great father to Jarrett and Brittney and held a special place in the football world and the Chicago community. Recent disclosures -- some true, some untrue -- do not change this. I'm saddened that anyone would attempt to profit from these stories, many told by people with little credibility."

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Posted on: September 27, 2011 2:27 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 3:36 pm

Eye on Football NFL Awards: Week 3

Posted by Will Brinson

Every week, our NFL experts will hand out the Eye on Football hardware to the best of the best from the NFL week that was.

Week 3 NFL Awards
Expert Offense Defense STeams Coach
Freeman Fitzpatrick Colts  Knox  Gailey
Judge  McFadden Bills DBs  Bailey  Gailey
Prisco   Romo  Allen  Bailey  Coughlin
Brinson  McFadden  Freeney  Bailey  Gailey
Katzowitz   T. Smith  Freeney  Bailey  Schwartz
Wilson   Welker  Freeney  Bailey  Jackson
Week 3's over and everything in the NFL is clear, apparent and obvious. Like, for instance, that the Lions and Bills are really good. I mean, who didn't see that coming, right? Anyway, it's award time for us.

Offensively speaking, there were plenty of performances that inspired us this week, but Darren McFadden of the Raiders and his 171 yards against the Jets warranted enough consideration to sneak out the award. (And with good reason.)

It was a losing defensive effort that picked up the hardware this week, as Dwight Freeney's efforts inspired enough voters to cast something similar to his name in the ballot and pick up the award. What does it say about the state of defense in the NFL, by the way, that we had three voters cast for either multiple players or an "entity"?

Dan Bailey ran away with the Eye on Special Teams for the second week in a row after his six (six!) field goals against the Redskins gave the Cowboys a victory on Monday night. You can only make the kicks your team gives you and Bailey did just that.

As far as the Eye on Coaching award goes, well, Chan Gailey wins ... again! What kind of world are we living in, huh?

Leave your votes in the comments below or scream angrily at us on Twitter @EyeOnNFL.

Eye on Offense Award
Mike Freeman Clark Judge
Ryan Fitzpatrick Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills
He deserves to win every award ever invented. Offensive award, defensive, Nobel, a Pulitzer and throw in an Emmy. It is true the Bills intercepted Tom Brady four times, a rarity, like when all of the planets in the solar system are aligned. It's clearly Fitzpatrick, despite Buffalo's defense prowess, who is driving this team and did so against New England. They'd lost 15 straight games to the Pats. Fitzpatrick's accuracy, skill and guts powered the Bills in what was the best performance -- period -- of the week.
Darren McFaddenDarren McFadden, RB, Raiders
If this guy stays healthy, the Raiders stay at or near the top of the AFC West. He seems to run at a faster speed than everyone else, and last weekend the New York Jets were that everyone. It takes a lot to impress Jets' coach Rex Ryan, and he seemed overwhelmed by Oakland's running game -- with McFadden the first one through the door with 171 yards, two TDs and an average of 9 yards a carry. We always knew he could be special; what we didn't know ... and still don't ... is if he can stay on the field.
Pete Prisco Will Brinson
Tony Romo Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys
I know his numbers weren't great, but did he ever tough it out against the Redskins. He played with a broken rib and punctured lung and made some tough throws. He took some shots, but kept on going. Not only that, he was playing with a bunch of backups.  Still doubt this guy?
Darren McFaddenDarren McFadden, RB, Raiders
If there was any question about Run DMC leading the league in rushing, he answered it Sunday, by rolling over the Jets with 171 yards on just 19 carries. He's piling up yards at a terrifyingly efficient clip (6.4 YPC) and deserves to be in the discussion as the best back in the NFL.
Josh Katzowitz Ryan Wilson
Torrey SmithTorrey Smith, WR, Ravens
The Ravens were looking to get off to a fast start vs. the Rams. And behind the play of rookie Smith, who had yet to record a single statistic in a game before Sunday, that’s exactly what they did. Smith caught three touchdowns in the first quarter, and overall, he had five catches for 152 yards to help get the Ravens offense back on track.
Wes Welker Wes Welker, WR, Patriots
It's rarely the case that a Patriots wide receiver has 16 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns and New England still loses. But when Tom Brady throws four interceptions and Chad Ochocinco drops what should've been a touchdown pass, that's exactly what happens. The lesson? No lead is too large for the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills to overcome.
Eye on Defense Award
Freeman Judge
Dwight FreeneyIndianapolis Colts, DST
I'll avoid more Bills slurping and go an unusual route--the Colts.I know. Very weird. Yet in a game which the Colts truly had no chance to win due to the absence of Peyton Manning that Indianapolis defense played brilliantly minus a play or two. They stripped a sloppy Ben Roethlisberger twice and picked him off. They were the only reason Indianapolis was in the game late.
Drayton Florence Buffalo Bills Secondary
The Bills' secondary had three of the team's four interceptions vs. Tom Brady and fueled the team's comeback from a 21-0 hole. Incredible. Nobody spots Brady 21 points and wins. Only Buffalo just did, ending a 15-game losing streak. Drayton Florence's go-ahead TD was the big blow, but defensive backs George Wilson and Leodis McKelvin had crucial interceptions, too. Do you believe in miracles? Brady had four interceptions all of last season; he had four on Sunday.
Prisco Brinson
Jared AllenJared Allen, DE, Vikings
I know his team didn't win, but he was a force all day. He had three sacks and was spent the game in the Lions backfield. He also made some nice plays against the run.
Dwight FreeneyDwight Freeney, DE, Colts
Don't tell Freeney that the Colts only upside to this season is nabbing Stanford's Andrew Luck -- in a game that the Colts weren't supposed to even be in by the fourth quarter, he dominated up front and gave Indy a shot at its first win of the year with two sacks, a forced fumble and total disruption.
Katzowitz Wilson
Dwight Freeney Dwight Freeney, DE, Colts
Freeney dominated the Steelers offensive line, recording two sacks, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits and a forced fumble. He almost single-handedly kept Indianapolis in the game and forced the Steelers to kick a last-second field goal for the win. Too bad Freeney can't play quarterback.
Dwight Freeney Dwight Freeney & Robert Mathis, DE, Colts
They spent Sunday night meeting on Ben Roethlisberger, combining for three sacks and two fumbles that resulted in 10 Indianapolis points. You could make a case that Freeney and Mathis are just as deserving of offensive honors, too.
Eye on Special Teams Award
Freeman Judge
Johnny KnoxJohnny Knox, WR, Bears
I know, I know. The spectacular return didn't count because of a phantom hold. A really phantom hold. Such a phantom hold it insults the word phantom. But the fake-out kick return by the Bears was such delicious subterfuge and Knox was king actor selling the fake completely. It was a wonderfully designed play that worked. Did I mention the phantom holding call? One other thing: I think Knox could be one of the top three special teams players in football if he got more opportunities.
Dan Bailey Dan Bailey, K, Cowboys
He did the only scoring in the Cowboys' come-from-behind defeat of Washington Monday night, with a 40-yard field goal to win the game. Bailey wasn't the story of that game; Tony Romo was. Not sure how he gutted his way through another victory, but it wouldn't have been possible if Bailey weren't there to punctuate the drives that Romo began.
Prisco Brinson
Dan BaileyDan Bailey, K, Cowboys
He made six field goals, including the game-winner late in the fourth quarter, to tie a rookie record. Well done.
Dan BaileyDan Bailey, K, Cowboys
The last place you want to kick as a rookie is in Dallas, where there's been a revolving door of kickers for a while now. But Bailey doesn't care and he gets my nod again this week as his leg carried the Cowboys to a crucial victory when they clammed up in the red zone.
Katzowitz Wilson
Dan Bailey Dan Bailey, K, Cowboys
With Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo getting very little help from his wide receivers and his offensive line, Bailey provided all of Dallas’ points in its win against the Redskins and set an NFL rookie record with six field goals in a single game. Bailey is now 9 of 10 on the season.
Dan Bailey Dan Bailey, K, Cowboys
For the second time in as many weeks, the Cowboys rookie kicker earns the nod. He was 6 for 6 on field-goal attempts against the Redskins and accounted for all of Dallas' points.
Eye on Coaching Award
Freeman Judge
Bill BelichickChan Gailey, Bills
He ended a brutal losing streak to New England but Gailey has done more than that in Buffalo. He's made the Bills relevant and the Bills haven't been relevant since the invention of barbecue wings.Buffalo hasn't had a winning record since 2004 and the last time the Bills made the playoffs was the late 1990s. Gailey isn't a great coach but he's solid. If he can steer the Bills into the playoffs he will have done one of the great coaching jobs of the past decade and making the postseason begins with their win over the Patriots.
Mike Munchak Chan Gailey, Bills
He wins in a photo-finish with the Lions' Jim Schwartz, and for this reason: Somehow, some way, he convinced his players that they weren't dead meat after falling behind by 21 points to Tom Brady and the big, bad New England Patriots. They'd lost 15 straight to these guys, for crying out loud, so there was every reason to quit. But they didn't. Now the question: Are these guys for real? I don't care. I just care that Gailey accomplished what no one in Buffalo has been to accomplish in years.
Prisco Brinson
Tom CoughlinTom Coughlin, Giants
When his team looks to be down, facing a lot of adversity, Coughlin always gets them to respond. They went into Philadelphia as 9-point underdogs and dominated the Eagles. That's why Coughlin is a top-tier coach.
Mike MunchakChan Gailey, Bills
We joked after Week 1 that Gailey deserved the award since it was his only shot of winning. Um, whoops? Gailey's masterful coaching job with the Bills has them undefeated and if the first two weeks weren't convincing enough, a 21-point comeback against the Patriots certainly should be.
Katzowitz Wilson
Jim Schwartz Jim Schwartz, Lions
What can you say about the Lions’ resiliency after falling behind by 20 points at halftime to the Vikings only to force overtime and win? Whatever it is, Schwartz’s coaching -- the adjustments the staff made and the fact it settled down the players -- can't go overlooked.
Hue Jackson Hue Jackson, Raiders
The Raiders first-year coach out-Rex Ryan'd Rex Ryan Sunday, forcing critical turnovers and relying on well-timed gadget plays to outlast the Jets.

Posted on: September 24, 2011 8:08 pm

Will Bears' OC Martz turn to running game?

Has Mike Martz finally learned his lesson? (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It is with an acute sense of "Hey, haven't we heard this before?" that we read the Dan Pompei column in the Chicago Tribune suggesting that Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz has learned a very valuable lesson from last Sunday's 30-13 loss to the Saints. A loss that included six Jay Cutler sacks, multiple Jay Cutler hits, and a post-game Jay Cutler admission that he's pretty sure he won't survive the 2011 season.

Martz called pass plays on 52 of Chicago's 63 offensive snaps (that works out to a whopping 83 percent), presumably paying no attention to beating Cutler was taking. It was so bad that Martz earned a name-check in our weekly Coach Killers column, and Bears coach Lovie Smith said that "I know the balance as far as running/pass wasn't there. All I can say is we'll get it better. You can't win football games with that type of balance."

No. No, you can't.

But Pompei thinks the Saints game will be a turning point in the Bears' season, the moment when Martz finally realizes that he needs to run the ball, too. Partly, for health reasons as they relate to Cutler but also because Matt Forte is a pretty good running back. (In related news: Forte is under the impression the Bears don't consider him an elite back. Weird.)

"The Bears probably would have lost that game no matter what plays Mike Martz called," Pompei wrote Saturday. "But because he tossed aside the run game as if it were a bill he didn't have sufficient funds to pay, he's going to have to pay interest now.

"Martz designs plays better than the large majority of coaches in his position. He has a great feel for how to attack defenses. He is one of the premier offensive minds in the modern era of football. But he needs a figurative slap in the face now and then. Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams gave him one."

That's putting it lightly.

Here's the thing: we've seen this movie before. Martz falls in love with the passing game, bad stuff happens, and he briefly pays lip service to the running game until the cycle repeats itself.

For fun, we consulted the Football Outsiders offensive efficiency rankings for the last three Martz-coached teams (all as offensive coordinators):

2010 Bears: 19th rushing, 28th passing, 28th overall;
2008 49ers: 24th rushing, 26th passing, 27th overall;
2007 Lions: 25th rushing, 19th passing, 24th overall;
2006 Lions: 32nd rushing, 20th passing, 28th overall.

Granted, some of the ineptitude listed above had to do with the personnel on those teams. But Martz has to shoulder some of the blame. More than that, if it's clear that dialing up one passing play after the next will get your quarterback killed, it doesn't require much in the way of football smarts to call running plays.

According to Football Outsiders' adjusted sack rate statistic (defined as "sacks per pass attempt adjusted for down, distance, and opponent"), the Bears ranked 32nd in 2010, the 49ers were 31st in 2008, and the Lions were 26th in 2007 and 30th in 2006.

So, sure, Martz might be the biggest brain in the room. But he's dreadful when it comes to making in-game adjustments. But who knows. Maybe this is the moment he fully commits to the running game. That said, Sunday seems like a bad time to turn over a new leaf -- the Bears are hosting the Packers.

After their second straight victory last week, the Green Bay Packers will travel to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears on Sunday. NFL.com's Pat Kirwan and Jason Horowitz preview this upcoming game.

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Posted on: September 22, 2011 9:38 am
Edited on: September 22, 2011 9:39 am

Jay Cutler on surviving 2011: 'I don't know'

Posted by Will Brinson

Jay Cutler got the old rag-doll treatment on Sunday as Gregg Williams and the New Orleans swarmed on him, pushing the Bears into dead last in sacks allowed (11). Somewhere in the mix he was literally kicked in the throat.

Given the beatdown that Cutler's been getting this year (and the year before) because of Mike Martz offensive designs, it makes sense to ask him if he think he can survive this season. Which is exactly what Mike C. Wright of ESPN Chicago did.

"I don't know," Cutler said hoarsely, when asked if he could survive. "I don't know."

Cutler was also asked about the league-high 11 sacks and whether spending most of his time at the office on his back was making him uncomfortable.

"I'm not worried about it," he said. "We're 1-1. There's still a lot of football to be played. If this continues, then obviously we're gonna have a problem. We're gonna have to address it. But I'm looking forward to this game. I know the guys are gonna bounce back, as will I."

And Cutler, who typically gets hosed any time he makes a comment in public, might not even be using "we're gonna have a problem" to mean he'll start getting mad at his offensive line.

It's entirely possible that he's talking about "a problem" as the Bears losing lots of games. Or the offensive line managing to get their starting quarterback decapitated.

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Posted on: September 21, 2011 8:05 pm

Forte thinks Bears believe he's not elite

FortePosted by Josh Katzowitz

As CBSSports.com’s Ryan Wilson pointed out in this week’s version of Coach Killers, Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s play-calling was slightly off-balance last week. In that of the Bears' 63 plays run on offense, Chicago compiled 52 pass plays.

But that percentage, which coach Lovie Smith has dissected and has claimed will move closer to 50-50 this Sunday, might not only get Smith fired (or, more likely, Martz). Apparently, it’s also indirectly inflamed Matt Forte, who has 324 total yards through the first two games (that ranks him second in the league behind Carolina’s Steve Smith).

Forte told reporters, via CSN Chicago, that he believes that the Bears think he is not an elite player, and that’s why he hasn’t received the long-term contract he feels he deserves. And while we assume Forte is talking about Bears general manager Jerry Angelo, he could also be mentioning Martz and his desire not to run the ball.

"I'd like to get paid off of the production," Forte said. "When you look at the production and what level that's on and you look at some of the guys who are producing and what they get paid, it's not that hard."

Detractors, I suppose, could point to Forte’s 117 total rushing yards, which ranks him 17th in the league, and claim that Forte isn’t running the ball effectively. But his total offensive production would make that claim dubious.

Forte -- who will make $600,000 in the last year of his current deal -- has made it known for quite some time that he wants more money, and in the offseason, it seemed like the two sides were closing in on a new deal. In fact, Forte even said, “I think we're going about it the right way.”

Forte obviously doesn’t feel that way anymore.

I’m not saying Martz is the one to blame here, but perhaps Forte is correct: maybe the Bears don’t believe he’s the player that he believes that he is. Either that, or he’s saying that to put pressure on Chicago to come to a deal.

Either way, Forte is not a happy man, but for now, there doesn’t appear to be much he can do about it.

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Posted on: September 20, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 9:19 am

Fox Sports fabricated headlines for Cutler piece

Posted by Will Brinson

Remember when Jay Cutler got injured in the NFC Championship Game and everyone freaked out about him being tough? That was a big story in 2010. It's still -- for whatever reason -- kind of important.

Probably because it gets fans riled up. But that doesn't excuse FOX Sports creating fake newspaper headlines on Sunday to run as an on-screen graphic.

Per Jim Romenesko of Poynter, Fox announcer Daryl Johnston told viewers that "these are the actual headlines from the local papers in Chicago" as the following "newspaper clips" rolled across the screen:
  • Cutler Leaves With Injury
  • Cutler Lacks Courage
  • Cutler's No Leader
The Chicago Tribune saw this graphic, realized those seemed strange and "searched throughout Illinois newspapers for those headlines -- Tribune, Sun-Times, Daily Herald, every other paper in the state."

And guess what? They found no such headlines. So they asked FOX Sports about it, and FOX admitted that such newspaper headlines never existed.

"The wrong word was used,” said Dan Bell, Fox Sports spokesman. "Our attempt was to capture the overall sentiment nationwide following that game."

"It was misleading."

As Gregg Rosenthall points out at PFT, "misleading" is a bit of an understatement -- it's just, um, "lying." Or, at the very least, "purposely distorting the clear-cut truth."

The reality is that most Chicago-area papers defended Cutler following the NFC Championship Game -- it was NFL players (like, say Maurice Jones-Drew) who ripped Cutler publicly. Fox didn't have to look that hard to figure out a way to stir up some controversy with Bears fans.

And yet they did anyway, continuing an outstanding year for Rupert Murdoch-owned media properties.

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Posted on: September 16, 2011 11:13 am

Urlacher's teammates surround him in support

UrlacherPosted by Josh Katzowitz

It’s been a whirlwind week for Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher. His mother, Lavoyda Lenard, died suddenly, and though he expected to take a few days off to grieve and be with his family, Urlacher returned to Halas Hall on Thursday, presumably to practice and get his mind off his mom for maybe just a few hours.

Sounds like his teammates -- who, if possible, seem to respect Urlacher even more now after he showed up for Thursday’s practice -- will do everything in their power to support him through this difficult time.

That’s why, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, a Bears contingent will travel to Lovington, N.M., in order to attend Lenard’s funeral Saturday and to be present for Urlacher.

The traveling party will include coach Lovie Smith, team chairman George McCaskey, president Ted Phillips, general manager Jerry Angelo, linebackers coach Bob Babich and linebacker Lance Briggs.

"Brian is family,'' Smith said, via the newspaper. "We see it like a family member passed away. So of course we're going to be there. The Bears will be represented well. We want to be there to show our support and help Brian as much as we can through a tough time.''

The funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, and the Bears crew will then fly to New Orleans for their Sunday matchup against the Saints. Urlacher, at some point, will follow, since he’s scheduled to start. Smith, whose mother died a week after the NFC championship guy, can relate to the emotions Urlacher is having.

"My mother, she let the season end, then she chose to go be with God,'' he said. "That's how her timing was.

"You know that being in a profession, you have to have plans for deaths that happen through the course of the year. And our plan is pretty simple: We put football on the back burner. We let that person do everything he needs to do ... That's exactly how we do it around here.''

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Posted on: September 14, 2011 2:27 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2011 2:31 pm

Brian Urlacher's mother dies unexpectedly

                                                                          (US PRESSWIRE)
Posted by Ryan Wilson

Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher was dominating in his Week 1 performance against the Falcons. He recorded an interception and returned a fumble for a touchdown as Chicago rolled Atlanta, 30-12.

On Wednesday, Urlacher was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week, but the linebacker won't be with the team for several days and may not be available when the Bears face the Saints Sunday.

According to a statement from the team, Urlacher's mother passed away unexpectedly.

"My first priority right now is to be with my family as we mourn her loss and make the arrangements to lay her to rest," Urlacher said. "This is a very difficult and emotional time for us and I sincerely ask that you respect our privacy. Thank you."

Thoughts and prayers go out to Urlacher and his family.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com