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Tag:Jay Cutler
Posted on: December 28, 2011 9:00 pm
 

Lovie Smith refuses to answer query about Martz

Martz, Cutler

By Josh Katzowitz

With the Bears season nearing its end and with offensive coordinator Mike Martz in the final year of his contract, this question, put to coach Lovie Smith, seems awfully legit and somewhat obvious: So, are you bringing back Martz next season?

Thing is, Smith didn’t see it that way.

“What kind of question is that anyway, at this time?" Smith demanded, writes Rapid Reporter Gene Chamberlain. "What kind of question is that? Why would you ask a question like that anyway?"

Will Martz return?
Well, the reason why it was asked is fairly understandable, but sadly, Smith didn’t answer the question. When reporters asked Martz about the same subject, he was slightly more pleasant about answering the query.

"Obviously I would sure like to be back. I think all of that stuff works out," he said. "This is going to be a great football team and I would like to be a part of it. We’ll just see how it works out."

Martz hasn’t had the most pleasing of years. He and quarterback Jay Cutler made big news when Cutler fired a “F--- him” at Martz after he and his coach disagreed on a playcall. Martz also was criticized plenty when he seemed to forget about Matt Forte (who, ahem, made the Pro Bowl) by calling for passes on 52 of 63 total plays in a bad loss to the Saints early this season and by not designing plays to keep Cutler out of the arms of defenders (Cutler was asked in September if he could survive the year, and he hoarsely said, “I don’t know. I don’t know.”)

Martz also didn’t get much out of backup Caleb Hanie and then later blamed Hanie’s execution for a tough play-call that Martz probably had no business asking for in the first place.

While Martz is easy to criticize, the Bears offense hasn’t been THAT bad with him in charge. Chicago ranks 16th in the league in points and 20th in yards gained, which is certainly an improvement on last year when they were 21st and 30th, respectively, under Martz.

So, will he be back? Hopefully, Smith feels like answering that question next week when the season is over.

Also on Wednesday, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said he was impressed enough by Josh McCown’s appearance in his first start with the team last Sunday that he wouldn’t mind considering McCown as Cutler’s backup for next year.

“In Josh’s case, he came in here late,” Angelo told the team website, via the Chicago Tribune. “He did a real nice job. He did have a familiarity with the offense, so it wasn’t like he was brand new. He was new to us, but not new to the offense, and he showed that. We’ll have time to make that decision, and hopefully we’re going to see another good performance Sunday.”

The only other question, I guess, is whether Martz will be around next season to help make that decision.  Or as Smith would say, "Why would you even make that comment, anyway?!?"

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Posted on: December 27, 2011 5:46 pm
 

Bears officially end seasons for Cutler, Forte

J. Cutler and M. Forte both went on the IR list (US Presswire).

By Josh Katzowitz

It’s official. The seasons for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte are finished, as the team announced today that both have been placed on the Injured Reserve list.

Now that the Bears have been knocked out of the playoff picture for good, this move was to be expected.

Though Cutler -- who broke his thumb in Week 11, which inevitably allowed Chicago to go from a 7-3 playoff contender to a 7-8 hopeless cause that has nothing to play for in Week 17 -- had said earlier this month there was an “outside chance” he could play vs. the Packers, that was an unrealistic goal.

That game occurred last week, and the only reason backup Caleb Hanie wasn’t on the field playing that day was because he had been so bad in his previous starts that Chicago, instead, started a man who, not long ago, was coaching high school football.

And the crazy thing about it was that Josh McCown, while certainly not on the same level as Cutler, was galaxies ahead of Hanie and performed relatively well on the road in Green Bay.

Meanwhile, Forte, who had made his desires for a contract extension widely known (and for good reason), wasn’t planning to return to the game unless he was 100 percent (also for good reason) after injuring his knee Dec. 3.

"These injuries, they usually take four to six weeks [to heal] they say," Forte said on Dec. 18. "And this will only be week three. I'm not going to rush to get back on the field and play while I'm hurt, because (if) you're not at 100 percent you may injure it even more if you do that."

Left unsaid was this: “Yeah, I’m not going to play, because there’s no way I’m going to put my knee on the line after I've already hurt it for a team that doesn’t pay a deserving player.”

Either way, both can begin looking forward to next season and trying to build another playoff run that won’t get spiked because of significant injuries.

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Posted on: December 23, 2011 8:11 pm
 

For the gambler in you, Week 16

Babin

By Josh Katzowitz

Each week, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by Bovada for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you’ll read all week. Because if you can’t lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what’s the point of watching sports at all?

Will Jason Babin tie or break the record of 22.5 sacks in a single regular season? 

Yes 5/1

Well, considering Babin doesn’t get to play against Brett Favre at all (“Thanks again, Brett,” says Michael Strahan), it’ll be tough to match Strahan’s record. Babin has 18 sacks and two more games to tie Strahan, and he’s be on fire recently, recording eight sacks in the past three games. That’s the good news. The not so good news is that the Eagles finish the season with the Cowboys and Redskins -- which rank 20th and 10th, respectively, in sacks allowed this season. So, while it might be tempting to take the odds, I think I’d probably go ‘no.’

Will Bear GM Jerry Angelo be fired before Game 1 of the 2012 regular season?     

Yes -140

No EVEN

Retired? Maybe.
Fired? No. While Caleb Hanie has been terrible since taking over for Jay Cutler, the Bears were on their way to the playoffs if their most important player didn’t get hurt. Now, if you’re asking Matt Forte, what he’d like to see happen, he might point toward a firing. But I don’t see it for now. That, however, doesn’t mean Angelo will be back next year.

Will Raheem Morris be the head coach of the Bucs for Game 1 of the 2012 regular season?     
   
Yes +110

No -150

I want to say yes, simply because the slide for the Buccaneers this season has been so steep. But I can’t stop thinking about last year’s surprising 10-6 finish that Morris helped orchestrate. I’d go no, but when Morris says things like this about his team, “You know, they’re not listening,” that’s certainly not a good sign.

Will either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Buffalo Bills win another game this season?

Yes -210

No +170

The Buccaneers play at Carolina and Atlanta; Buffalo plays host to Denver and then is at New England to end the season. Straight-up, I’d pick the Buccaneers and Bills to lose all of those games, but I think one team will end up winning one game. I’d bet ‘yes’ on this one, and cross my fingers.

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Posted on: December 18, 2011 9:57 pm
 

Bears starting QB is up in the air for next week

C. Hanie is 0-4 as Chicago's starter (US Presswire).

By Josh Katzowitz

With Caleb Hanie, once again, playing unimpressively (10 of 23 for 111 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions) in Chicago’s 38-14 loss to the Seahawks, the Bears benched him in favor of Josh McCown.

And with the team 0-4 since Jay Cutler was lost (and with Hanie throwing three interceptions in three of those games), coach Lovie Smith wouldn’t say Hanie would return next week as the starting quarterback.

"It's right after the game and we're disappointed in our performance today at the quarterback position," Smith said, via Rapid Reporter Gene Chamberlain. "I can't tell you any more than that."

After McCown replaced Hanie, he only threw two passes -- one was a 12-yard completion and one was an interception. But if he’s called upon to start next week, he’ll feel confident about himself.

"Yes, I felt ready," he said. "There's obviously a different tempo on the playing field you can get when you start than if you come in off the bench."

Since taking over for Cutler, Hanie has thrown three touchdown passes and nine interceptions. He also hasn’t figured out a way to get the Bears a victory, and a team that was once 7-3 is 7-7 and out of the playoff race for now.

"First off, we're disappointed in our team and how we played the last four weeks," Smith said, via ESPN Chicago. "Of course, Caleb is a large part of that, just the quarterback position in itself. It's hard when you don't get more production from the quarterback position. And Caleb's been our guy, great opportunity, but we haven't played as well as we need to though."

Remember a few weeks ago when rumors had popped up that the Bears might be interested in Brett Favre and/or Donovan McNabb? You remember when Smith said the trio of Hanie, McCown and Nathan Enderle were his guys and that the team wasn’t going to search for other quarterbacks on the free agent line?

Turns out that might not have been a great decision. And it could have just helped ruin what was once a prosperous Bears season.

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Posted on: December 18, 2011 11:55 am
Edited on: December 18, 2011 1:19 pm
 

Bears Matt Forte won't return until he's 100%

Chicago was was 7-3 on Nov. 20. Now they're 7-6 with two of their best offensive players on out with injuries. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

On November 20, the Bears beat the Chargers to win their fifth game in a row. Their record stood at 7-3, and they appeared headed for a wild-card berth. But quarterback Jay Cutler sustained a broken thumb on his throwing hand against San Diego and in the three weeks since the Bears, with Caleb Hanie under center, are 0-3. Not helping: the team's second-best offensive weapon, running back Matt Forte, went down with a knee injury on December 4 and it's not clear when he'll return to the field.

"Day to day, I just see how it feels," Forte told ESPNChicago.com on Saturday. "It's always really stiff in the morning because I've been asleep. It hurts in the morning, but once I get warmed up, I just try to see how it feels. I've been doing some straight-ahead jogging this week which has been OK, but I'm nowhere near 100 percent. So it's not looking good for next week, I know that. ...

"These injuries, they usually take four to six weeks [to heal] they say," Forte said. "And this will only be week three. I'm not going to rush to get back on the field and play while I'm hurt, because you're not at 100 percent you may injure it even more if you do that."

The Bears need Forte in the worst way and it doesn't look like he'll be available to help them in time for a late playoff push. And that leads us to this: does that prove Forte's worth to the front office? He's in the last year of his rookie deal and is looking for a new contract, one that hadn't come before his December 4 injury.

Conventional wisdom suggests that Forte's productivity and his importance to the organization are reasons enough to keep him in Chicago. But months after the Titans backed up the truck to pay Chris Johnson only to watch him turn into one of the league's worst backs should also serve as a stark reminder that running backs, in general, are fungible.

Then again, how Chicago plays over the final three games of the regular season could demonstrate just how important Forte is to this offense. And as it stands, he has no intention of returning to the lineup until he's completely healthy.

"You got to make that decision personally," Forte said. "My mindset is kind of set on that. I'm not going to really go out there and play unless I'm 100 percent and I can run straight ahead and sprint and make cuts, because as a running back you have to make people miss. You can't just take on hits and get pounded on. You'll have more injuries to rehab."

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Posted on: December 15, 2011 10:15 am
 

Cutler says 'outside chance' he plays vs. Packers

Chicago was on a five-game winning streak before Cutler went down. They're 0-3 since. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Jay Cutler hasn't played since he broke the thumb on his throwing hand in Week 11, a 31-20 win over the Chargers that took the Bears to 7-3 and second place in the NFC North. Now, nearly four weeks later, Chicago is 7-6 (0-3 with Caleb Hanie), and seventh in a six-team playoff race.

The Bears' remaining schedule: Seattle, at Green Bay, at Minnesota. To have a shot at the postseason they'll need to win out, and clearly, Cutler, who was riding a five-game winning streak when he was injured, gives them the best chance to do that.

But to paraphrase Rick Pitino: Jay ain't walking through that door … at least not this week. Cutler appeared on “Waddle & Silvy” radio show Wednesday and said he might return for the Packers game in Week 16.

"I'll say outside," he said, via CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Gene Chamberlain. "I wouldn't say it's good or definite or a real possibility, but there's always a chance."

Yep, he's telling you there's a chance

Cutler also said that last week in Denver he threw a football for the first time since having surgery on his thumb.

"It’s kind of like trying to relearn it," he said. "The ball was a little foreign in my hands. It’s a little bit stiff. And those pins in there, that adds a little bit of a shooting pain. In the next few weeks we have to figure out once all the swelling’s going whether I can manage with these pins or we’re going to have to pull them."

If Cutler doesn't play, then Hanie will be the starter. And while he's had a rough go of it in that role (the nadir, without a doubt: losing to Tyler Palko and the Chiefs in Week 13), Hanie showed improvement during the Bears' overtime loss to the Broncos last Sunday.

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz agrees.

"[Young quaterbacks] just get in there and there's a sense and they just go," he said of Hanie's overtime performance," he said according to Chamberlain. "When you mix (runs) in a little bit here and there for an inexperienced quarterback, it's harder on them until he gets a better feel for the game. And it's going to be that way until he plays more."

Here's a thought: maybe Martz' game plan should highlight Hanie's strengths -- not just in overtime but from the first series. Revolutionary stuff, we know.

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Posted on: December 11, 2011 11:53 am
 

Report: Cutler may not return in regular season

'I've said my whole career you have to be pragmatic," Martz said when asked about Chicago's offense. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Bears are 7-5 heading into Sunday's Week 14 matchup against the Broncos. As it stands, they're the fifth seed in the NFC but the Falcons, Lions and Giants are all within one game of them. And unless Chicago's offense finds a way to overcome Caleb Hanie, who replaced an injured Jay Cutler in the lineup just in time for the Bears to start losing, missing the playoffs is a real possibility.

There was the hope that Cutler's injured thumb would heal in time for him to return during the regular season. On Sunday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the organization now doesn't expect Cutler back before the playoffs. And even then, there's no certainty he'll be ready because unless he has a time machine, there's no way to advance the healing process.

With running back Matt Forte also on the shelf with a knee injury, and Hanie having thrown six picks in two games, conventional wisdom suggests a conservative offensive game plan that minimizes turnovers, and letting the Bears' defense take care of the rest.

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz has no need for convention or wisdom. Earlier in the week, he said he plans to be "more aggressive" with Hanie. The Bears probably need to go 2-2 over the final month of the season to qualify for the postseason. They're at Denver Sunday, then Seattle, at Green Bay and at Minnesota.


The Denver Broncos have won their last five straight games and hope to make it six as they host the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon. Who has the advantage in this matchup? Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game.

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 5:12 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 5:13 pm
 

Martz plans to be 'more aggressive' with Hanie

Hanie has struggled in two starts but there are no plans to bench him. Just the opposite, in fact. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Heading into Week 14, the Bears are the No. 5 seed in the NFC, ahead of two other teams with 7-5 records: the Falcons and Lions. Three weeks ago, Chicago was playing like one of the conference's top two or three clubs but that all changed the moment quarterback Jay Cutler broke his thumb against the Chargers.

In the two games since, backup Caleb Hanie has thrown six interceptions, been sacked 11 times and the Bears have gone winless. Going into Hanie's first start, the conventional wisdom was that offensive coordinator Mike Martz would be wise to give the ball to running back Matt Forte 30 times a game, give Hanie easy, high-percentage throws (think screens and slants -- or as they're called in Denver: Tebow specials), and let the defense take care of the rest.

Yeah, that didn't happen. (Exacerbating things: Forte injured his knee last Sunday and will be out 2-4 weeks). Good news: Martz later blamed execution, not the play call for one of Hanie's worst interceptions -- a screen pass thrown back across the field that didn't go quite as planned. 

Now, with four games remaining (at Denver, Seattle, at Green Bay, at Minnesota) and a tenuous hold on a wild-card spot, Martz says that he will be more aggressive with Hanie.


The Denver Broncos have won their last five straight games and hope to make it six as they host the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon. Who has the advantage in this matchup? Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game.

“He did a lot of good things in that game [vs. the Chiefs],” Martz said, according to the Chicago Tribune's Bradd Biggs. … “I don’t think [Hanie] is any different than any of our coaches on offense or players so he did some really good things in there and he’s making progress and I am encouraged by a lot of things in there. When you go back and look at that, there’s reasons for everything that happened. He’s not making mental errors, he’s sharp with everything so he’s learning under the gun so to speak.

“We’ve got to get him into the game a little bit earlier, probably a little bit still too conservative with him. He’s capable of probably more than what we’re doing with him. So, we’ll be a little bit more aggressive with him.”

Hanie will get that chance against the Broncos. You might have heard that they're playing well lately. Still, despite all the praise we're heaping on Denver's defense, they're only middle of the pack according to Football Outsiders' metrics (17th overall, 22nd against the pass, 10th against the run). Unfortunately, the Bears' offense ranks 25th (25th in passing, 17th in rushing).

Whatever happens Sunday, this much is certain: head coach Lovie Smith won't bench Hanie.

“That’s going into the game expecting something bad to happen,” Smith said. “That way of thinking, we just don’t have that. I’m looking at Caleb Hanie going into that game having success and doing a lot of good things and leading us to a win. We spend most of our time concentrating on that.”

If Chicago can finish the regular season 2-2 they'll make the playoffs. If they can't muster two wins, there's a good chance the Lions will sneak into the last wild-card spot and the Bears will be on the outside looking in.

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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