Tag:Jay Cutler
Posted on: October 4, 2010 4:01 am
Edited on: October 4, 2010 12:40 pm
 

10 Sunday stories deserving your attention Week 4

Posted by Andy Benoit

1.) Conspiracy in Philadelphia

Until Sunday, it hadn’t dawned on me that Trent Edwards and Kevin Kolb are the same person. That’s why they’re never in the same place at the same time. Kevin “Trent Edwards” Kolb was a master of the safety outlet pass against the Redskins. Including what we saw in the first half against Green Bay in Week 1, Kolb is officially the most consistent dumpoff thrower in the game today (the consistency being, he dumps it off on every play).
K. Kolb (US Presswire)
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin became nonfactors once Kolb replaced the injured Michael Vick. And somehow, tight end Brent Celek dropped out of the picture as well (until the final few minutes, anyway). Running back LeSean McCoy took 16 handoffs Sunday (64 yards rushing), which was just one more than the number of passes thrown his way. At least the emerging second-year pro was productive, turning those 15 passes into 12 receptions for 110 yards.

You wonder if Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg really trust their offensive line. Many believe Vick won the starting job because his legs allow him to elude the frequent pass-rushing pressure Philly’s makeshift front five has surrendered. On Sunday, the coaches were awfully willing to call screen passes and keep Kolb in simple check-down scenarios. Perhaps they knew Jason Peters couldn’t block Brian Orakpo without holding (which Peters got called for twice).

Futile as the offense was, Jason Avant actually had a shot at a go-ahead hailmary touchdown at the end of regulation. That play was made possible by a 15-yard double-hook-and-ladder play.

Quick Tangent

Inst’ it surprising that the hook and ladder is not a more common play? You’d think someone from the Mike Martz school of thought would realize that it’s a potentially lethal play that not only can trick opponents but also give defenders something to think about. You have to figure defensive backs and linebackers would pursue the ball a little less aggressively if they had reason to believe that a hook and ladder could be in the works.

Eventually, football will evolve to where the hook-and-ladder is mainstream. There are just too many possibilities for it. Some team that has a former college quarterback plaing receiver (think Brad Smith of the Jets, for example) will incorporate it. But, for whatever reason, we’re not there yet.

2.) Back to Kolb and the Eagles

By now, every NBC executive has hit his or her knees and pleaded with God to heal Michael Vick’s upper rib cartilege. If Vick has to sit out next week, we might officially have the most uninteresting matchup in the five-year history of NBC’s Sunday Night Football: Kevin “Trent Edwards” Kolb’s 2-2 Eagles visiting Alex “Too Bad for a Nickname” Smith’s 0-4 Niners. Instead of looking forward to the night cap, football fans will spend all of Sunday trying not to think about going back to work tomorrow.

See, it’s not just that Kolb appears to be an iffy quarterback (and I realize it is very, very early in his career, so I say “iffy quarterback” with the proper grain of salt), it’s that he is boooorrrrrrrring. Kolb doesn’t have a rocket arm. And he’s not mobile. Moxie is something we attribute to guys whom we like but can’t figure out why. I, like you, do not really know what moxie is. But I do know Kolb doesn’t have it.

It seems the best case scenario is that Kolb becomes a great West Coast system quarterback. That’s fine – Joe Montana obviously did well in a similar role. But it’s miserable for fans to watch the early development of a West Coast quarterback after they’ve already gotten a taste of the electrifying Vick. That’s like going back to just holding hands and occasionally kissing someone whom you’ve already….well, you get what I’m saying.

If Kolb starts against San Francisco, the NFL should call for a special flex schedule in which they move the Niners-Eagles to CSPAN and give us Redskins-Packers on SNF. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Redskins again now that they’ve discovered they can run the ball.

Washington came into Week 4 having gained only eight first downs on the ground; against the Eagles, they rushed for 10 first downs. (And since we’re on the topic of Skins running game, I’ll say once more that Ryan Torain will wind up being this team’s top rusher in the second half of the season.)

P.S. Eagles fans….perfect job welcoming Donovan McNabb back. Treated him to a well-deserved standing ovation before the game, then treated him like the enemy visitor he was after that.

3.) Are the Rams for real?

This question is usually a leading one. We tend to ask if a team is for real only after we’ve already decideS. Jackson (US Presswire)d that it is. Or, more accurately, only after we’ve decided to hope that it already is. (Example: the Chicago Bears before Sunday night. The “3-0 – that’s right – 3-0! Can you believe it!?” Chicago Bears.)

In this case, the question is just a question. Are the Rams for real? If by “for real” you mean “a team capable of finishing .500” – which is where the win over the Seahawks left Steve Spagnuolo’s team – then, yes, the Rams are for real. Don’t underestimate the value of playing in the NFC West.

A bad division may be St. Louis’ greatest strength, but it’s not the only positive. Obviously, Steven Jackson is a star. Aiding him is that Sam Bradford shows flashes of brilliances as a precision passer. Yes, he also shows a vulnerability to rookie mistakes (did you see his interception to former Texas rival and fellow first-round rookie Earl Thomas in the end zone?). But mistakes are partly a symptom of Bradford’s willingness to attack downfield. He’s showing he can make the tough anticipation throw – and even with bodies around him.

More intriguing is the Ram defense. Its secondary overachieved against Seattle’s overrated passing game. (And yes, Seattle’s passing game IS overrated. Brandon Stokley, just days after signing, seemingly captured Mike Williams’ role as the No. 1 receiver.)

The Rams front seven has been dominant two straight weeks. End James Hall has a sack in three straight games (four sacks total on the season). Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis has become much more of a downhill player. In fact, he now seems likely to emerge as one of those players who achieve greatness despite limited athleticism (ala Zach Thomas – or ala the anti-Barrett Ruud).

Spagnuolo does a great job of manufacturing big plays through A-gap blitz concepts. In short, St. Louis’ system is better than its personnel. That can translate to wins as long as everyone buys in (the Patriots proved this in the early 2000s). The Rams will be up and down in 2010. But when you’ve won six games over the previous three years, that’s progress. And, thanks to the NFC West, they’ll have meaningful games in December.

4.) Motown Blues

The toughest thing for a downtrodden franchise to do is learn how to win. The Lions are finding this out. Last season, Detroit’s offensive line was as porous as a colander. And its defensive line may have been the worst the NFL has seen in at least 15 years. Consequently, the offense sputtered and the defense ranked dead last in point and yards allowed. The Lions finished with a record of 2-14 (which, sadly, was an improvement over the previous year).

This season, the Lions are not awful. The offense has playmaking potential in the ground game, thanks to rookie Jahvid Best. The front five is able to protect Shaun Hill well enough for Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson to actually be weapons. The defensive line is revamped, with powerful No. 2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh living up to the hype and venerable veteran Kyle Vanden Bosch igniting an assemblage of fellow newcomers.

And yet the Lions are still 0-4. Most maddening is the way they’ve gotten there. Detroit lost at Green Bay Sunday by the score of 28-26. In Week 2 the Eagles beat them 35-32. And you remember the Calvin Johnson non-touchdown catch in Week 1 against the Bears.

These are the type of losses that happen to a team that has grown accustomed to losing. The Lions are football’s version of the fat person who works out but still gains noticeable weight after eating anything heavier than a salad. Or they’re that poor person who finally finds a job but is at fault in a fender bender on their way to cashing that first paycheck. Bad things just happen to the Lions. To them, failure is familiar and, therefore, on some super subconscious psychological level, easy to achieve. And we’ll assume karma is glad to chip in and help screw them over at all times, given that has evolved into the status quo.

In short, the mojo and psychology of a team can be very real. Learning how to win is not easy. Detroit is finding that out.

5.) Unglamorous glamour guys

Three teams featured a fullback as their primary ballcarrier in Week 4. It’s hard to say whether this is a sign that the fullback position is not declining after all or if it’s a sign that the fullback position has already officially died.

For the second straight week, Peyton Hillis rushed for over 100 yards for the Browns. This time, it came in a winning effort (a surprising upset over the Bengals).

Mike Tolbert had 16 carries for 100 yards in the Chargers’ 41-10 blowout of the Cardinals. (By the way, say this about the Cardinals: they sure get their money’s worth when they lose. Especially on the road. Remember this team in its 2008 Super Bowl year? That year the Cardinals lost to the Jets 56-35, the Eagles 48-20, the Vikings 35-14 and the Patriots 47-7.)

Lastly, the Packers got a hearty nine carries and 39 yards from John Kuhn, who is clearly a better option than Brandon Jackson (though Jackson had an acceptable 33 yards on nine carries against the Lions).

All three of these guys got their chance thanks to injuries to others. Hillis stepped up after rookie Montario Hardesty went down with an ACL. Tolbert shined when rookie Ryan Mathews hurt his right ankle in Week 2. Kuhn came in when Ryan Grant was lost for the season with an ankle injury.

More noteworthy is that all three are getting legitimate reps. The Browns and Chargers both have viable scatbacks they could turn to in Jerome Harrison and Darren Sproles. And the Packers could be forcing the issue with Jackson. But coaches are choosing to go with these bulldozers instead. (Even with Mathews healthy now, Tolbert appears to be the No. 1 back in San Diego).
 
Hillis, Tolbert and Kuhn are all downhill runners who play with good pad level and balance. But they’re also nimble enough to make defenders miss. And, not coincidentally, all three can catch. Hillis is wonderful on screens. Tolbert is actually athletic enough to run routes out of the slot. Kuhn is effective in the flats.

There’s something refreshing and pure about true fullbacks getting heavy touches. It’s a case of good, fundamental football being rewarded.

6.) AFC East mugging

The AFC story in Week 4 was the outburst from LaDainian Tomlinson. It was his first 100-yard rushing performance in 26 games. He looks like a star No. 1 running back again. This begs the question, Have we ever seen a running back hit the 30-year-old Wall and later recapture his magic? The first answer that comes to mind is, No. The second answer is, Well…Thomas Jones. Except Jones – whom L.T. replaced in New York – was never a star before his veteran years. And he never really hit a wall. L. Tomlinson (US Presswire)

Ricky Williams is another answer. He shares the load with Ronnie Brown, just like Tomlinson shares the load with Shonn Greene. But it’s debatable whether Williams is a star back. And, he never really hit a wall.

A lot of people thought a 28-year-old Emmitt Smith was slowing down after he gained just 1,074 yards in 1997. Then Smith put together two straight 1,300-plus-yard seasons after that. Still, he was not declared washed up at that point.

Curtis Martin barely topped 1,000 yards at age 29. Many thought he would tail off the next season, but instead he rushed for 1,308 yards at 30 and a career-best 1,697 yards at 31. Martin, however, remained with the Jets that entire time.

The current Jets star was dismissed by his longtime San Diego team. Who knows, maybe time will still prove that the Chargers were wise to get rid of the future Hall of Famer. But going off the evidence we have through these first four weeks, Tomlinson looks similar to his old (young) self. The lateral agility and acceleration are not 100 percent there, but they’re at least 85 percent there. And that’s enough.
Meanwhile, don’t look now, but Mark Sanchez has eight touchdowns and zero interceptions on the season. And Dustin Keller is playing like an All-Pro. Plus, Rex Ryan’s defense is as dominant as ever.

On the other side in this game, we’re always hearing about the financial struggles of the Bills. One thing the team could do to alleviate costs is only bring its defense on road trips. That would cut travel costs by nearly 50 percent. The Bills offense doesn’t show up for most of the games anyway. For example, in the first 22 minutes of this game, Buffalo had less than 50 net yards and less than five minutes in time of possession. You really think that’s worth paying for extra hotel rooms, equipment managers, meals, etc.?

7.) Electrifying Bolt

Supposed you had to explain Shaun Phillips’ performance against the Cardinals to all the narrow-minded fantasy nuts out there. How would you do it? Here’s my approach: if the Chargers outside linebacker were a quarterback, he would have thrown for 450 yards. If he were a running back, he would have rushed for 160 with three scores. If he were a wide receiver, he would have had 10 catches and at least two taunting penalties.

Phillips was simply remarkable Sunday. With Shawne Merriman (or that Shawn Merriman imposter the team has kept around the past year and a half) and Larry English out, Phillips stepped up to the tune of four sacks, four quarterback hits, five tackles and an interception returned for a touchdown. He dominated with sheer speed (Cardinals right tackle Brandon Keith probably couldn’t describe Phillips to a police sketch artist at this point) and craftiness. The only way Derek Anderson, who was benched this game, could have avoided an interception on the play in which Phillips dropped into an underneath zone coverage was if the notoriously inaccurate Anderson had made Phillips his intended receiver.

It’s not just Phillips. The entire Charger defense has been stupendous through the first quarter of the season. (Remember, San Diego is 2-2 because its special teams units couldn’t cover against the Chiefs and Seahawks.) Ron Rivera’s unit has not allowed more than 14 points in any game this season. And only once has an opponent put together a 10-play drive against this team (Arizona’s opening drive Sunday, which ended in an interception). Of course, the Chargers have not exactly faced the most dynamic offenses so far: Kansas City, Jacksonville, Seattle and Arizona. But hey, this it the NFL, where all success is quality success.

Other defenders

Phillips was not the only defensive player who stood out Sunday.

**Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb was phenomenal against the Steelers, particularly in his isolated deep ball coverage against Mike Wallace. Webb, fresh off his December ACL injury, broke up three deep balls on an island.

**Texans free safety Troy Nolan got significant playing thanks to an injury to Eugene Wilson. The 2009 seventh-round pick responded with two critical interceptions, as well as five tackles.

**Rookie cornerback Alterraun Verner was the talk of Titans training camp. In his NFL starting debut against Denver, the fourth-round pick showed why. Verner broke up three passes and recorded 11 tackles. He has plenty of room to improve – some of those tackles came because the Broncos targeted his side of the field – but the burst and athleticism are clearly there.

8.) Bears fans….are you there?

To anyone who has censured me for being negative about the Bears’ offense, you can send your apology notes to andy.benoit@cbsinteractive.com. It’s not hard to figure out: a bad offensive line, a bunch of raw wide receivers and a quarterback who trusts his natural ability just a little too much is a recipe for disaster. J. Cutler (US Presswire)

Coming into this game, the Bears had avoided disaster against the Lions, but it was clear that the ingredients for it were there. In terms of protecting Jay Cutler, the Bears had a disastrous start in the Dallas and Green Bay games, but they were able to overcome it. Sunday night at New York, they weren’t. Things got so bad that Cutler was eventually sacking himself (an out of bounds run for the sixth sack, and another out of bounds surrender that nearly went down as the ninth sack).

It is very difficult to give up nine sacks in a half. We almost never see it because teams that can’t pass protect eventually turn to their run game. But the Bears don’t have a run game. That became very conspicuous once Todd Collins entered the contest and Mike Martz gave the old-fashioned approach a whirl. Matt Forte looks better than he did a year ago, but he’s still not showing the juice to accelerate. Forte’s yards per carry average in each of the four games thus far: 2.9, 2.9, 2.6 and 2.2.

The Bears have a premiere defense – amazingly, Julius Peppers somehow seems underpaid – but they simply don’t have the necessary personnel to run Martz’s system. They’ll be a fun team to watch closely moving forward.

9.) Cardiac Cats are back?

The Jaguars are winning close games again. At least, that’s what everyone will be saying this week. It’s amazing: because Josh Scobee made a 59-yard field goal, we’re not talking about Jack Del Rio’s job security, television blackouts or a quarterback controversy. Instead, we may actually hear chatter about the 2-2 Jags being contenders in the AFC South. And we’ll absolutely hear chatter about the 2-2 Colts supposedly being old and no longer being a dominant club. (This whole notion, by the way, is ridiculous.)

What people won’t remember is how close the Jaguars came to settling for overtime in this game. With the game tied, the Jags got the ball at their own 23-yard-line with 42 seconds remaining and one timeout. When they ran a draw to Maurice Jones-Drew for eight yards, the Colts used a timeout in hopes of getting the ball back to Peyton Manning. It was a stark contrast: one team hiding its quarterback and the other desperately trying to showcase theirs. Garrard justified his coach’s lack of trust in him by throwing an incompletion on the next play. But a six-yard strike to Tiquan Underwood yielded a first down, and a 22-yard strike to Underwood on the next play put Scobee in field goal range. After one more Garrard near-meltdown (Colts corner Jacob Lacey dropped an easy interception), Scobee came on to seal the deal.

10.) Quick Hits
J. Flacco (US Presswire)
**It wasn’t a great slate of games this Sunday, but we at least got great finishes. Atlanta-San Francisco, Indy-Jacksonville, Detroit-Green Bay, Denver-Tennessee, Cleveland-Cincy, New Orleans-Carolina, Baltimore-Pittsburgh and Philly-Washington all went down to the wire.

**It just dawned on me that we’re near the end of this week’s Stories Deserving Your Attention and there has been no real mention of the Steelers-Ravens game. That’s too bad. It was, by far, the best all-around display of football on Sunday. The story of the game was how Cam Cameron continues to show more and more trust in Joe Flacco (24 completions on 37 pass attempts), and how that trust is being rewarded (the game-winning drive, for example). The Steelers did not play prevent defense on Baltimore’s final touchdown drive. Rather, they just played against a collected, strong-armed young quarterback.

**I’d love to be Terrell Owens for just two minutes after the Browns game. I’d like to know how I (he) truly felt after going for 200 yards in a losing effort. (I have absolutely no idea how Owens felt, and I won’t speculate. Just curious.)

**The Denver Broncos have a prolific offense, but their lack of a run game shows up in the red zone. The Broncos were 0/5 against the Colts and just 2/7 against the Titans inside the 20-yard line.

**The fumble on Nate Clements’ interception late in the fourth quarter was strictly a fantastic play by Falcons receiver Roddy White. Clements can’t be faulted for trying to score there. White has done this before. Recall that when these two teams met in San Francisco last year, White chased down Dre Bly and forced a fumble after an interception. (It was on that play when Bly, like an idiot, started celebrating during the runback.)

**The empty seats for the Texans-Raiders game could have put the WNBA to shame.

**Jimmy Clausen did some good things against the Saints (though I have no idea why I had to see 800 replays of that gimme 58-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Stewart) but it’s obvious that the rookie’s decision-making is a little too slow for the pro game at this point. Last week Clausen dawdled in the pocket; this week, he wound up asking for the snap too late in the play clock (particularly on the game’s final drive). It’s all part of his learning curve.

**Why did the Panthers wear their alternate blue jerseys against the Saints? It was a road game, which minimized the marketing appeal of the third uni. And it was an indoor game, which meant that avoiding the heat-trapping black jerseys was not an issue.

**Speaking of heat…have you seen that the Colts now have two kids who hold a giant white board over Peyton Manning to create shade for the star quarterback when he sits on the bench? That must be a dream job for those kids. Still, every time I see Manning’s personal shade creators, I can’t help but think about the pathetic loser who used to constantly hold an umbrella for Michael Jackson.

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Posted on: October 3, 2010 10:14 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2010 11:13 pm
 

Cutler ruled out for game with concussion

Posted by Will Brinson

Todd Collins, and not Jay Cutler, took the field with the Bears to begin the second half. The reason? Jay Cutler sustained a concussion in a first half that saw him sacked an absolutely astounding nine times and has been ruled out to return to the game against the Giants.

The concussion, based on replays, actually occurred on the second-to-last play of the half (the ninth sack), when Cutler was tossed to the ground and banged his head on the turf.

Brad Biggs first reported the news on Twitter, and it almost seemed like part of the halftime joke party that half the Internet was having at Cutler and the Bears' expense.

As it turns out, though, it's a pretty serious matter -- and also something that seemed like a reasonable outcome for the Bears' quarterback given how poorly his offensive line blocked and how long he held onto the ball.

Update (10:20): Via Jose3030, we have video of when Cutler suffered the concussion.

Update (11:04): Andrea Kramer just big-leagued the Bears' medical staff by texting GM Jerry Angelo who told her that he expects Cutler to travel home with the team, which is good news.



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Posted on: October 3, 2010 10:03 pm
 

Giants sack Cutler single-half record 9 times

Posted by Will Brinson

If you're watching the Sunday night game, you witnessed history, as the Giants sacked Jay Cutler an NFL record nine times -- which is an NFL record for sack in a single half.

Unfortunately, the G-Men couldn't capitalize on it, taking a 3-0 lead into the locker room amidst a game that is just darn near unbearable to watch. Eli Manning is underthrowing receivers, the Bears offense line looks like a group of professional matadors and Cutler appears to be dunking his hand in a jar of glue before every single snap.

It's ugly, ugly football.

But, NINE SACKS?

Even Ed Rooney is impressed.


Posted on: September 29, 2010 2:45 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2010 6:58 pm
 

Givin' Em the Business: Idiot kickers

Posted by Will Brinson

Givin Em the Business recognizes all the people that annoyed you from the week that was in football. Feel free to provide nominations either in the comments or by yelling at us on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL) .


Rank Who Why

1

Garrett Hartley
As someone who picked the Falcons upset the Saints and eventually to win the Super Bowl (yeah, I'll be reminding you until their next loss), I love Hartley for helping me look good. But as someone who loves his job yet wishes he could get paid six (or more) figures to swing his leg back and forth and kick a football 29-yards through a really wide gap between two poles, well, Garrett Hartley, you are a total loser.

2

Shaun Smith
The story of Shaun Smith and his affinity for grabbing other men's junk has been fairly well chronicled over the past few weeks. But not well enough -- if there's a guy out there who plays football for a living and spends most of his time amidst other piles of men and he just so happens to frequently punch/yank/grab/pull/etc other man parts, well, he needs to be fined. Or sent to jail or Singapore or something. Last I checked, "given 'em the business" is like three life terms there.

3

Jay Cutler
The Packers deserve some blame for an ugly Monday night game, but look to the left at this picture -- it is Jay Cutler, in the words of the guys at KSK, acting "triumphant after throwing [a] masterful pass interference penalty." And that accurately describes the CUTBRAH and the Bears this season, except they're somehow 3-0, which makes them eleventy billion time more insufferable.

4

Mike Singletary
You know what? I've always thought Singletary is a good coach, but that's mainly because he does really funny stuff 50 percent of the time and spends the other 50 percent of the time yelling at his players in a manner that causes them to respond. But it might be time to stop blaming other people (Jimmy Raye) and just admit that Singletary is at fault with the Niners failure.

5

Dez Bryant's Dinner
t's not like spending $54,000 is even a big deal. Seriously, people. Once you start blogging for a living, you make it rain with 55 GRRR at least once a week. (It's because living in a basement and not paying for pants is secretly the most genius money-saver of all-time.) Anyway, who cares about this dinner. Why are we wasting all of our time talking about it? It's funny. They're rich. He's young. WHAT-EVER ... just let's end this so no one ever has to hear Herm Edwards talking about the limits ($1,500?!?!) on his credit cards again.

6

Jimmy Clausen
It became infinitely easier to hate on Clausen when he appeared to have a Power Glove and/or mittens on. After all, the last Panthers quarterback to sport Mittens? David Carr. Not a good precedent to set for the rookie. But then you see the entrance he made (pointing to the crowd, jumping through smoke) and compare it to the exit and you have to think that maybe he could really work on humility a little bit more, you know?

7

Darrelle Revis
The Jets keep winning ... without him. Which is bizarre, considering he's by far their best player, and annoying, considering we spent the entire offseason debating how much he's worth as a premier cornerback since he decided to hold out and act like the Jets couldn't live without him. Now he's not practicing again, and might not play this weekend, which just makes it all that much more obnoxious that we held our breath for so long.

8

Marcus McNeill
Welcome back, guy! Good thing you decided to hold out, because, boy, did you really show A.J. Smith what-for. Not only did you manage to not play a large portion of the season, but you also managed to lose a ton of money and end up playing this year for nothing!

9

Lovie Smith
Yup, picking on someone else who is 3-0. That's because Lovie's coaching decisions thus far this year are completely inexplicable. It's one thing to be "aggressive" when it comes to making fourth down decisions, it's another thing to be "completely idiotic." Lovie's been the latter at least two (and maybe) three times this season, eschewing a field goal that would tie the game -- twice! -- in favor of trying to extend a red zone drive. Lucking out with a win after whiffing those can't last forever.

10

Sebastian Janikowski
Eh, why not bookend this week's edition with kickers? It was that kind of week after all. The weird thing is that Janikowski said he felt better than ever while warming up against the Cardinals. Clearly he was wrong about something, because he ended up whiffing a game-winner from inside 35-yards which, if you have the biggest leg in the NFL and just happen to be the highest-paid kicker in the league, is the most inexcusable thing you can possibly do.

Posted on: September 28, 2010 12:19 am
 

Packers-Bears reaction

Chicago pulled out a victory to get to 3-0 on the season. Chicago WR R. Davis celebrates after the game (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Before the season began, I was pretty sure Chicago was overrated. I had never been impressed with the consistency of QB Jay Cutler. I didn’t think RB Matt Forte could be effective. I was weary about offensive coordinator Mike Martz. The defense would be fine – actually, I expected it to be very good – but I didn’t think the offense could keep the team in games.

Through three games – all Bears victories, including a less-than-impressive win in the season-opener against Detroit – there are still plenty of questions for the offense. But then again, the defense has been very good, and Cutler has done well enough to lead Chicago to the top of the NFC North division.

“It’s fun,” Cutler told ESPN’s Suzy Kolber after the game. “That’s all you can ask for. The defense did a great job. We still felt the whole game we were killing ourselves. But we came up big at the end of the night.”

OK, let’s talk about the real reason Chicago won or – more appropriately – how the Packers lost this game.

Green Bay outgained Chicago 379-298, but the Packers blew it for themselves. They tied a club record that had stood since 1945 with 17 penalties for 152 yards. Many of them, especially late in the game, were undisciplined and, frankly, stupid. Frank Zombo had a helmet-to-helmet hit on Cutler that wiped out an interception. There was the bad personal foul penalty by Nick Collins, and there was a horrendous pass interference by Morgan Burnett to give Bears possession deep in Packers territory.

If Burnett’s pass interference was horrendous, the play of Green Bay’s special teams was atrocious. Bears returner Devin Hester ran back a punt return for a touchdown and should have had another (speaking of which, why in the hell are you kicking to him in the first place?). Bears DE Julius Peppers blocked a Mason Crosby FG attempt. Green Bay got nothing with their return game. And let’s not even get into that last-second kickoff return of desperation that featured about 15 forward passes (the flags were gone, and after the officials would finish throwing their hats, they were going to have to start throwing their whistles).

“You can’t play football like that,” Mike McCarthy said in the postgame presser when asked about the penalties.

That’s true, Mike. But let’s not let the coaching staff off the hook here. After James Jones’ fumble with a little more than 2 minutes to play gave the Bears possession near mid-field, for some reason – even though it should have been abundantly clear to whoever was speaking in McCarthy’s ear that the call was good – McCarthy threw the challenge flag.

It was pretty obvious after looking at one replay that the fumble recovery was legit. Yet McCarthy challenged and lost a timeout. It helped his squad lose the game (hey, at least the Packers would have had more time after Robbie Gould's field goal).

This was a game Green Bay should have won. This was a game the Bears should have lost.

And you know what? I still think Chicago is overrated.

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Posted on: September 27, 2010 10:20 pm
 

Three things about CHI-GB first half

Green Bay has been pressuring J. Cutler in the first half (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Three things I noticed from the first half of the Green Bay-Chicago game:

1. No running game means no problem for Packers: John Kuhn has rushed four times for 11 yards; Brandon Jackson has rushed three times for minus-three yards. But when Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is on his game, it doesn’t seem to make a big difference. Besides, Kuhn and Jackson have been relatively effective in the pass game, and Green Bay is doing a pretty decent job of moving the ball. Would Ryan Grant make this team better? Almost assuredly. But without him, the team might be OK, too.

2.The Bears OL can’t stop the Packers pass rush: Even though Green Bay, at times, was rushing one defensive lineman, the Packers still managed to sack Chicago QB Jay Cutler three times. But it’s not only the sacks. It seems the Bears are barely managing to give their QB any time to throw on any snap.

3.Bears still in it after looking bad: As mediocre as the Bears have looked this game – they’ve been outgained 180-159 in total offense (I actually thought it was much worse than that) – they’re still right in it. A bad line drive punt by Tim Masthay to Devin Hester, who made a nice return, and a long pass from Cutler to Johnny Knox set up a nine-yard TD pass from Cutler to Greg Olsen late in the second quarter. That makes it 10-7 heading into the halftime, though it should be much worse for Bears.

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Posted on: September 27, 2010 5:03 pm
 

Bears v. Packers: MNF Podcast Preview

Posted by Will Brinson

Are you ready for some fooooootball?

How about some poooooooodcast?

If your answer to both of the above questions is "yes" well, boy, are you in luck, because Andy and I are here to talk about our favorite storylines from Week 3 and get you ready for Monday night's Packers/Bears matchup.

Did kickers give themselves a bad name this week? How did so many quarterbacks manage to throw up monster numbers while still managing to lose games? Did Dallas "justify their hype" by finally winning a game? And are the Falcons the new cream of the crop in the NFC South?

All that plus a discussion of whether or not the Bears can hang on against the Packers tonight when the two teams face off, just by clicking play below. And be a friend and go ahead and subscribe via iTunes .

If you can't view the podcast, click here to download .


For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow  @cbssportsnfl   on Twitter   and subscribe to our  RSS Feed .
Posted on: September 13, 2010 2:35 am
Edited on: September 13, 2010 2:38 am
 

10 Sunday stories that deserve your attention

Posted by Andy Benoit

1. The Bears are who we thought they were

For months we’ve been saying that Mike Martz’s system won’t work in Chicago. You can’t ask those mediocre receivers to run slow-developing routes – they just won’t get open consistently, we said. You can’t expect that putrid offensive line to sustain blocks in pass protection long enough for Cutler to take regular seven-stop drops, we said. And Cutler – oh jeez – you can’t ask Cutler to read the entire the field and take chances without making costly mistakes, it’s just not in his DNA (we said). J. Cutler (US Presswire)

Well, after one game, it appears that we were…exactly right.

Sure, Chicago beat Detroit. But teams have beaten Detroit 30 times in just the past two years alone. And had Matthew Stafford not been knocked out prior to halftime, the outcome probably would have been different (the Lions, led by Shaun Hill, scored zero points in the second half). And let’s not forget the controversial Calvin Johnson call at the end.

But all that’s actually beside the point. When the Bears watch the film on Monday, they’ll see an offensive line that gave up four sacks and put Cutler under continuous duress. (Heck, Lions journeyman defensive end Turk McBride – Turk McBride, for crying out loud! – looked like an All-Pro going up against Frank Omiyale in this game.) That same offensive line also failed to help its running backs punch in a go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter on four consecutive goal-to-go situations from the one-yard line.

One shudders to think what the Cowboys front seven will do to this group next week…

2. Safety first (if you’re a fan of moronic decisions)

How much disdain must Chan Gailey have for his passing offense to make the ridiculous decision that he made late against the Miami Dolphins? Trailing by three and facing fourth-and-10 on their own one-yard line with under 2:00 to play and two timeouts, the Bills opted not to try to pick up the first down, but instead, to take a safety.

On the surface, taking a safety always seems smart. The reason for this is because it’s such an unconventional move that there’s no way it could ever be as dumb as it sounds (if you explained the concept of taking a safety to someone who never watches football, at some point you’d hear yourself say “and now we’re going to give the other team two points.” Give them two points? What? Why?) In this case, the move was as dumb as it sounds.

The Bills gained nothing in field position by taking the safety because, instead of playing for a field goal (which would mean reaching the 30-yard-line or so), they now had to play for a touchdown (which, Bills fans might not remember these days, would mean reaching the goal-line). Buffalo gave up all their timeouts just to get the ball back with 36 seconds to go at their own 20-yard-line (and had the Dolphins gotten a better punt on the play, the Bills could very well have ended up right back on their goal-line again).

By taking the safety, the Bills were essentially hoping for – nay, planning for – a miracle. Evidently Gailey thought it would take an even bigger miracle for Trent Edwards and those no-name receivers (no-names save for Lee Evans, that is) to gain 10 yards. If you have that little faith in your passing game, you’re officially screwed.

3. Patriots D looks sharp

This was one of those games where the boxscore lies. The boxscore says that Chad Ochocinco caught 12 passes for 159 yards. It says Terrell Owens caught seven passes for 53 yards. (Batman and Robin? More like ROBIN and batman.) The stars may have put up good numbers, but the truth is, the Patriots secondary outplayed the Bengals’ receivers – especially early on, when Cincy wasn’t throwing out of desperation and the Patriots weren’t protecting a huge lead.

New starting defensive backs Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung were both outstanding. McCourty, the first-round rookie corner whom some are saying is already the best defensive back on the roster, stifled Owens on several deep balls in the first half. Chung led the team with 16 tackles, many of them vicious hits.

Phil Simms made an excellent point about this young Patriots defense: it’s faster. A lot faster. The Patriots have prioritized speed in recent drafts (except for the selection of linebacker Brandon Spikes, who had to have a sex tape leaked in order to make people forget about something even more embarrassing: his 40-time). On Sunday, that speed translated into more big plays.

Note: In a follow-up to that last parenthetical jab at Spikes, it’s only fair to mention that the second-round rookie was very solid in his starting debut at inside linebacker.

4. Devin Hester no longer a star return artist

Back in 2006 and 2007 when we said Devin Hester had already had a legendary career’s worth of touchdown returns, we didn’t mean Hester should call it a career for touchdown returns. But do you realize Hester has not returned a punt for a score in three years?

Sunday was a sobering example of how far Hester has fallen (by the way, his fall ironically coincides with his promotion to a starting receiver role). Six times, the Lions punted from backed up in their own end zone. On the day, Hester had five punt return opportunities – most of them on line-drive balls he caught in the middle of the field. His total return yards? 17. Three years ago, in a game like this, he would have had 17 touchdowns (don’t worry about the math – he would have found a way; Hester was supernatural back then.)

There’s no reason Hester can’t recapture his magic – he’s only 27. But seriously, what’s going on here?

5. Running backs relevant…sorta

It’s a passing league these days. Bu, like all you misguided fantasy players who don’t realize that your fantasy football scoring system is flawed, we’re going to give the running backs some love.
A. Foster (US Presswire)
For the youngsters, it will have to be tough love. The two electrifyingly speedy first-round rookie runners who were supposed to transform their respective offenses failed to get the wheels turning Sunday. C.J. Spiller ran the ball seven times for six yards against the Dolphins. The only part of Spiller that looked truly fast was his mind, which seemed to be spinning out of control at times. He was unusually hesitant on contact.

In Detroit (and can you believe we’ve now fit three Lions-Bears bits in this entire piece?) Jahvid Best got 14 carries but amassed only 20 yards. At least Best found the end zone two times.

No need to worry about either young runner at this point – it’s only one week, after all. They’ll get better.

On to the love…

There’s especially no need to worry about the runners in the AFC South. Maurice Jones-Drew gained a hearty 98 yards on 23 carries against the Broncos. Facing a speedy but diminutive Colts run defense that has decided it will be porous again this year, Arian Foster, I think, became the NFL’s first 1,000-yard rusher in 2010. (By the way, Colts fans, no need to worry about your team’s run D– last time the Colts were this bad was 2006, when their SUPER BOWL CHAMPION defense ranked 32nd against the run.) Finally, in Tennessee, Chris Johnson posted 142 yards on 27 carries, which, unfortunately, means he’s behind pace for his ridiculous goal of 2,500 yards rushing on the season.

Most important of all, the teams of these three  running backs all won, creating a huge log-jam atop the AFC South.

6. A star is born

There is a new star in the broadcasting world, and his name is Jim Mora Jr. Thank God Jim Mora Sr.’s son never lead the Seahawks to the PLAYOFFS?! Now we get to listen to Mora call games with Dick Stockton and Charles Davis on Fox each week.

Mora made his television debut in the Falcons-Steelers game. He was extremely intelligent and, for a man ostensibly looking to get back into coaching, he was shockingly blunt. Mora’s best line came during a rant about his friend Bruce Arians calling a pass late in the fourth quarter on second-and-five before the two minute warning. “That play-call was a tragedy”, More said. If you get a chance, tune into a Mora game. You’ll be enlightened and entertained.

7. Redskins don’t win…Cowboys lose

The nice thing about fumbling away seven points on a meaningless play to end the first half is that it is such a huge mistake that no other mistake you make can possibly feel that bad. No matter what, as mistakes go, you simply can’t top that one. Though credit the Cowboys for trying. Specifically, credit Alex Barron. The former first-round pick showed everyone why he landed in Dallas in the first place. Barron wracked up multiple penalties in the second half, including the game-loser on the final play. After the clock struck 0:00, Cris Colinsworth cleverly shared a “get well soon” wish for Marc Colombo.
T. Romo (US Presswire)
It’s too bad we’re highlighting Barron’s mistakes because the man was not utterly awful the entire game. Of course, the Cowboys clearly didn’t trust their makeshift front five to begin with. Virtually every pass Tony Romo threw came off a three-step drop. There was a litany of one-step drop throws (until the final two minutes, some people probably wondered if Dez Bryant actually knew how to run routes, as the Cowboys kept throwing smoke screens to the first-round wideout).

Dallas’ offensive line issues will get fixed once Kyle Kosier and Marc Colombo are healthy. By the way, all this relates well to our next topic (a bonus topic!)…

7.BONUS. Does preseason matters after all?

Probably not. But it’s worth noting that there were three offenses that looked awful in the preseason: Dallas, Carolina and Chicago. Well, the games count now, but these units still stink. The Dallas offense scored seven points in Week 1. The Carolina offense had five turnovers. The Chicago offense had four turnovers and scored only 19 points against a rebuilding Detroit defense. This isn’t enough evidence to overturn the beloved “preseason doesn’t mean a darn thing” axiom, but the continued struggles of these teams are worth pointing out (which we’re doing here).

8. Lightning strikes, so don’t play football?

The Jaguars-Broncos game was delayed 30 minutes during the third quarter because of lightning. This prompted me to send the following email Greg Aiello, head of the NFL’s public relations department:

Hi Greg, we're going to pose this question in our NFL Facts and Rumors Blog, but thought we'd pose it to you guys first: Why does the NFL stop games because of lightning? All we ever hear is that the odds of getting struck by lightning are about the same as the odds of winning the lottery. So why pause a game because of it? Most of the 70,000 fans in attendance can't leave a stadium and get to safe cover that quickly anyway. Is it really worth the major inconvenience? 

(This email was sent after midnight eastern time, so if the league does have a response, it will come after this is published. We’ll throw it up if they send a response.)

9. Problem in Indy?

This is the perfect game for us media folk to blow way out of proportion. The Colts always beat the Texans…until now. The Colts can’t lose when Peyton Manning is on fire…until now. The Texans fit the description of a team on the rise. Etc.

We must be careful not to get carried away about this outcome. But we also must ask the appropriate alarmist question: is Indy’s offensive line a problem? Left tackle Charlie Johnson wound up playing in this game (he’d been out for about a month with a foot injury), but it didn’t matter. Mario Williams dominated far more than his stats (four tackles, one sack) suggest.

And how about this: did you ever in a million years think Peyton Manning would post 40 completions for 433 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions in a LOSING effort? What the heck do we make of that?

10. Derek Anderson-Larry Fitzgerald woes

So I decided on Sunday around 6:30 ET to write about how Derek Anderson and Larry Fitzgerald were not on the same page – or not even in the same book, for that matter. Obviously, Fitzgerald’s game-winning 21-yard touchdown reception put a dent in that angle. But not a big enough dent to obliterate it.

I still say the Cardinals have a problem with their passing game. Fitzgerald doesn’t trust Anderson right now – nor should he. Anderson’s accuracy issues were evident several times Sunday. Twelve of the 15 passes thrown Fitzgerald’s way fell incomplete. Fitzgerald’s body language reeked of frustration. And all this was against a hapless Rams secondary.

It’s no surprise the Cardinals begged Kurt Warner to come out of retirement a few days ago.

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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