Tag:Lovie Smith
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 16, 2011 3:28 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2012 6:31 pm

Bears to cut Sam Hurd, WR out on $100K bond

By Will Brinson

Hurd allegedly wanted to buy 10 kilograms of cocaine and a half-ton of marijuana per week. (Getty Images)

The Bears will waive wideout Sam Hurd, who was arrested on federal drug charges Thursday, Jerry Angelo told reporters at an impromptu press conference on Friday.

This news comes via our Bears Rapid Reporter Gene Chamberlain, and ultimately isn't shocking. Hurd is alleged to have been in possession of a kilogram of cocaine, and allegedly attempted to purchase five to 10 kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 pounds of marijuana, per week, from an undercover agent.

Naturally, Hurd's been a distraction for Chicago over the past 24 hours, and therefore they're making a move to cut him.

"There’s been a wrong, and we’ve acted," Angelo said on Friday. "We have a track record of doing that. The right thing is to cut Sam Hurd."

Angelo was asked if other members of the Bears were on the reported "list" of NFL players who bought drugs from Hurd, but declined to comment.

"I can’t talk about that," Angelo said. "I’m not going on any witch hunts here."

Hurd's attorney David Kenner told Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times that he didn't believe the list existed.

"I haven’t seen all the material," Kenner said. “But we have seen nothing to support that contention. We believe that is simply not the case."

Hurd was released from prison on $100,000 bond on Friday, per Chamberlain.

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Posted on: December 11, 2011 12:17 pm

Report: Bears GM could retire at season's end

If Jerry Angleo retires what would that mean for Chicago's coaching staff? (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Bears' roster has experienced some reshuffling in recent weeks: Jay Cutler is out with a thumb injury (and may not return during the regular season), and Matt Forte is nursing a bum knee (he's expected to be out 2-4 weeks). But personnel goings-on could extend beyond the playing field. According to NFL Network's Jason La Canfora, there is "persistent chatter" that Bears general manager Jerry Angelo could retire. The deciding factor could be how Chicago's season plays out. Currently, they're the fifth seed in the NFC, but the Falcons, Lions and Giants are in the hunt, too.

The next question: what does a new general manager mean for Lovie Smith and his coaching staff? Smith, who has been the Bears' head coach since 2004 and took Chicago to the Super Bowl in 2006. In the four full seasons since, the Bears have two sub-.500 performance and qualified for the postseason just once. Smith has also taken criticism for offensive coordinator Mike Martz's early season game plans the last two seasons, ones that included Cutler taking a lot of huge hits.

If the Bears keep winning, you'd think Smith's job would be safe. If they flame out and miss the postseason and Angelo hangs it up, we will probably have to add Smith's name to the ol' coaching hot seat list.

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Posted on: December 11, 2011 12:16 pm
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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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Posted on: December 6, 2011 7:24 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 7:23 am

Favre denies return report; Bears not interested

Brett Lorenzo Favre: still retired. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Perhaps there will come a time when an injury to an NFL starting quarterback won't reflexively lead to media inquiries about whether Brett Favre would be interested in the job. Sadly, we are not yet at that point. Never mind that Favre is 42 years old and has stated on several occasions going back to this summer that he ain't coming back.

(UPDATE: Favre released a statement Tuesday night. "In spite of reports about playing with various teams, I'm enjoying retirement with my family and have no plans to play football," he said.)

Of course, Favre brought this on himself with the annual "I'm not really retiring" press conferences. And now it's his burden to bear for the rest of his days. It also explains why he's been linked to the Dolphins, Texans and most recently the Bears.

On Monday, a report surfaced that Favre would listen if Chicago called. On Tuesday, a source told ESPN that the Bears have no interest in Favre despite losing Jay Cutler to a broken thumb and subsequently going 0-2 with backup Caleb Hanie.

"That's our group," head coach Lovie Smith said Monday of Hanie, Josh McCown and Nathan Enderle, the three quarterbacks currently on the roster. "We're going to make improvements with our group. We're not looking on the outside. We won't have a quarterback tryout or anything like that."

Hopefully, this is the last we speak of Brett Lorenzo Favre's possible return to the NFL (although somehow we suspect it won't be).

Last week, there was speculation that Donovan McNabb could join the Bears after being released by the Vikings. That didn't happen either.

“If [the front office] feels like [McNabb] can help us win games, then that's the number,” defensive back Corey Graham said, via CSNChicago.com. “But as of right now, we actually believe in Caleb. We've seen him do a lot of great things in practice and things of that nature, so we believe in what he can do. Yeah, it's been a rough couple of games for him, but I'm pretty sure he can bounce back and I'm pretty sure he can be OK for us.”

And Devin Hester, during a Monday radio appearance, said that signing McNabb would be a "waste of time" because of the intricacies of Mike Martz's offense and with only four weeks left in the regular season.  

To recap: if Chicago is going to make the playoffs it won't be because of a late-season acquisition of a veteran quarterback. It will be because Hanie played much better over the final month of the season than he did the previous two weeks.

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Posted on: November 21, 2011 11:42 am

Which free agent QBs could fit Bears needs?

Cutler, Martz

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Now that Bears coach Lovie Smith has officially confirmed the news that Jay Cutler broke his thumb* while trying to make a tackle after an interception during Chicago’s win against the Chargers on Sunday, we wonder where the Bears offense goes from here.

*You can see video of the play here.

The Bears QB Future
The quick reaction from across the league has been definitive: the Bears are screwed. And it’s hard not to disagree, especially when you consider Caleb Hanie is the new starting quarterback and fifth-round pick Nathan Enderle (if you haven’t heard of him, that’s OK -- he played his college ball at Idaho) is his backup. That could be a recipe for disaster.

Hanie has played a total of seven games in his three-year career, and in the regular season, he’s completed 8 of 14 passes for 66 yards. But his real moment to shine occurred during last year’s NFC championship game (you might remember it because Cutler injured his knee, couldn’t return to the game and got toasted for it by his colleagues on Twitter) when he completed 13 of 20 passes for 153 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in Chicago’s 21-14 loss.

The Bears most likely will have to sign a third quarterback for the roster (or a fourth, assuming they don’t place Cutler on IR, and for now, the Bears don’t have a timetable for his return), and they’ll have to troll the free agent market to do so. Chances are, they won’t get somebody more prepared to play in this offense than Hanie, but an experienced quarterback could add depth and keep Enderle from having to come into the game.

Here is a list of five potential free agents the Bears could target.

BulgerMarc Bulger: This one seems the most obvious, because Bulger worked under Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz when Martz was the head coach in St. Louis. In order for an incoming free agent to have any chance of playing this season for the Bears, he most likely would need to have knowledge of Martz’s style of play. Bulger has that. But Bulger has made it clear he’s not interested in returning to football. He told the Ravens at the beginning of season to give him a call if Joe Flacco suffered an injury, but since then, Bulger has told at least one team that he’s not interested in playing football anymore. Unless Bulger was guaranteed that he would be a backup, the Bears probably should move on.

Chances of this happening: 10 percent

Trent Edwards: After he didn’t make the Raiders squad out of training camp, Edwards actually had a chance to sign with the Dolphins once they lost Chad Henne. But Edwards took one look at that franchise and said thanks, but no thanks (Matt Moore, by the way, is forever grateful). Edwards actually had a decent year as the Bills starter in 2008, but he eventually lost that job to Ryan Fitzpatrick. The problem with Edwards, though, is that he’s not been especially good for the past three years. I mean, if Kyle Boller beats you out of a backup job, that’s not a very good sign.

Chances of this happening: 8 percent
T. Collins struggled in last year's NFC championship game (US Presswire).
Todd Collins: Just because Collins is 40 years old (!) and got yanked for Hanie after Collins briefly replaced Cutler in the NFC championship game last year (as seen in the picture at left) doesn’t mean the Bears shouldn’t look at him anyway. Collins spent a season with Martz, so he should know the offense relatively well. The problem is that Collins has never been anything more than an NFL backup, and if you had to pick between Collins and Enderle, you might be better suited to go with the rookie. But for some reason, I think there’s a chance Chicago could turn back to Collins if things get desperate.

Chances of this happening: 20 percent

Jake Delhomme: If the Bears were looking for a Collins alternative who is four years younger with infinitely more NFL success, they could do worse than Delhomme. That said, Delhomme was a disaster last year in Cleveland and eventually gave way to Colt McCoy. Though there reportedly was interest in him by the Browns and the Dolphins this year, Delhomme isn’t doing much of anything these days (except for sending John Fox congratulatory text messages). Fortunately, the Bears coaching staff would have the ability to watch film from Delhomme’s stay in Cleveland last year. And that should be enough to force the coaches to toss Delhomme’s number in the trash.

Chances of this happening: 5 percent

Brett Favre: Stop it. Just … stop it.

Chances of this happening: 0.5 percent

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Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:29 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 4:44 pm

Eye on Football NFL Awards: Week 9

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 9 NFL Awards
Expert Offense Defense STeams Coach
Freeman Manning Dolphins  W-ford Harbaugh
Judge Rodgers Peppers Peterson Coughlin
Prisco  Jones Harrison Peterson  Smith
Brinson McGahee  Peprah Peterson  Sparano
Katzowitz  Moore  Peprah  Cards  Smith
Wilson Rodgers  Peprah Peterson  Sparano
Week 9's wrapped up and it's hardware time. This week we've got some new faces ... but a couple old ones.

Aaron Rodgers continued to Aaron Rodgers the Aaron Rodgers Award. At this point, it's surprising when he doesn't win.

Speaking of winning, the Packers got a huge help in their dubya thanks to safety Charlie Peprah, who picked two passes and picked up our Eye on Defense Award for Week 9.

Patrick Peterson ran his third punt back of the year, and that resulted in his second-straight Eye on Special Teams Award.

And Tony Sparano was tied for Lovie Smith for our Eye on Coaching Award, but we gave the tiebreaker to Sparano since, well, you know.

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

Eye on Offense Award
Mike Freeman Clark Judge
Eli Manning Eli Manning, QB, Giants
Deja goober all over again. Sure, the younger Manning sometimes looks perpetually goofy but on Sunday he beat the Patriots -- again -- in exciting fashion. I think we're about to see Manning explode and go from good to great. Maybe not Aaron Rodgers great but top echelon great. Dare I say elite.
Aaron RodgersAaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
People tell me nobody could play better than Tom Brady last season, except Rodgers is. He just savaged San Diego for four more touchdowns and is on schedule for 48. Yeah, the Packers' defense has holes, but what difference does it make when this guy keeps dissecting defenses for yards, points and victories.
Pete Prisco Will Brinson
Julio Jones Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
He had two long touchdown catches, one of 50 yards and one of 80 yards. He showed why the Falcons traded up in the draft to get him. Jones was also in his first game back from injury, which makes it even more impressive. I could give this to Aaron Rodgers every week, but is that right?
Willis McGaheeWillis McGahee, RB, Broncos
Considering the Raiders D let Tim Tebow rumble for more than 100 yards too, McGahee's 163-yard day might be discounted by some. But the dude had surgery on his hand less than two weeks ago and he's the real reason the Broncos are just one game back of the division lead now.
Josh Katzowitz Ryan Wilson
Matt MooreMatt Moore, QB, Dolphins
The last Dolphins quarterback to throw three touchdowns in a game was Chad Henne in 2008. That, amazingly, was three years ago. Matt Moore did it at Kansas City in the week’s biggest upset. Moore was 17 of 23 for 244 yards and those three scores, and he actually played pretty damn well. He also did Tony Sparano a big favor by getting the deserving man a victory.
Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
This was the most underwhelming four-touchdown performance I can remember. But that's what happens when you're consistently much better than everybody else: the spectacular appears mundane. Against the Chargers, Rodgers completed 81 percent of his passes for 247 yards, and rushed for another 52. His counterpart Philip Rivers threw six touchdowns on the day but loses out to Rodgers for the Week 9 hat tip because two of them were of the pick-six variety.
Eye on Defense Award
Freeman Judge
Cameron WakeDolphins DST
I'm going to violate the rules here and hope my man Will Brinson, who deftly organizes these, doesn't punch me in the face. And I'm taking the Dolphins as a whole. Jeez, they deserve an honor, any honor, after this season and what they did to Kansas City was joyous: they sacked Matt Cassel five times and forced him out of the pocket nine more. The Chiefs had allowed only 13 total sacks allowed up to that point
Julius Peppers Julius Peppers, DE, Bears
He didn't produce big numbers, but he led the Bears to an unexpected victory over Philadelphia. He had the team's only sack, he deflected a pass and, in general, was a thorn in the side of a Philadelphia offense that had trouble getting untracked all evening. Basically, he proved why he's worth the money Chicago pays him.
Prisco Brinson
James HarrisonJames Harrison, LB, Steelers
I know it came in a losing effort, but he had three sacks in his first game back from a broken orbital bone. The guy was a terror, with one exception. Where was he on the final drive?
Charlie PeprahCharlie Peprah, S, Packers
Peprah's supposed to be the weak link in a Packers secondary that hasn't been impressive this year, but on Sunday he picked off Philip Rivers twice. The first pick he took back to the house (providing the point differential for a win) and the second was to seal Green Bay's victory.
Katzowitz Wilson
Charlie PeprahCharlie Peprah, S, Packers
For as bad as the Packers secondary has been this season -- 31st in the NFL?!?! – Peprah played a huge part in Green Bay’s win in San Diego, intercepting Philip Rivers and then breaking five tackles to score. Then he ended San Diego’s chances by picking Rivers again in the final minutes.
Charlie Peprah Charlie Peprah, S, Packers
Peprah intercepted Philip Rivers twice Sunday, including a 40-yard pick-six in the first quarter and another on the Chargers' last drive which he returned 76 yards. That made him San Diego's second-leading receiver on the day behind Vincent Jackson.
Eye on Special Teams Award
Freeman Judge
Steve WeatherfordSteve Weatherford, P, Giants
On Sunday against the Giants, the Patriots started their drives at the five six, 17, 20, 11 and nine yard lines in the first half. They were fighting for their lives all day thanks to Weatherford.
Patrick Peterson Patrick Peterson, CB/KR, Cardinals
Can we just retire the award with this guy? That's three punt returns he's taken to the house. They're not going to win many this year, anyway, right? So what happens if they have a chance for, say, Andrew Luck or Landry Jones? Peterson might have spared them that decision.
Prisco Brinson
Patrick Peterson, CB/KR, CardinalsPatrick Peterson
This was easy. He became only the second player to rip a punt for a touchdown to win a game in overtime. And it was 99 yards, no less. Peterson now has three punt returns for scores in his first eight games -- a rookie record.
Patrick PetersonPatrick Peterson, CB/KR, Cardinals
Peterson tied a rookie record with his third punt -- the 99-yard game-winner against St. Louis -- taken to the house, which means he's got eight more games to break that tie with Devin Hester. Speaking of Hester, maybe teams should stop kicking at Peterson, too.
Katzowitz Wilson
Patrick Peterson Cardinals DST
Calais Campbell blocked Josh Brown's 42-yard field goal attempt to win in regulation, and then Peterson stunningly returned a punt 99 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Afterward, Peterson said he doesn’t know why teams still punt to him. I don’t know why either.
Patrick Peterson Patrick Peterson, CB/KR, Cardinals
Remember in the spring when there were concerns that, at 6-0, 220, Peterson might need to drop some weight to be effective in the NFL? Whatever the scale reads now, that's his optimum playing weight.

Eye on Coaching Award
Freeman Judge
John HarbaughJohn Harbaugh, Ravens
There were doubts about Harbaugh's quarterback, Joe Flacco. And there were doubts about his team's mental toughness then he goes into Pittsburgh and wins. That win means the Ravens swept the season series with the Steelers and put themselves in good position to win the AFC North.
Tom Coughlin Tom Coughlin, Giants
He went to Gillette Stadium, a place where nobody but Tom Bray and Bill Belichick win, and somehow, some way, pulled off a last-second upset. Of course, it always helps when Eli Manning is on your side, but Coughlin had his team ready for an improbable outcome. That's why the Giants are on top of the NFC East.
Prisco Brinson
Lovie SmithLovie Smith, Bears
Lovie took a team that was a heavy nine-point underdog into Philadelphia against a supposedly hot team in the Eagles and cooled them off. The Bears had a great scheme to slow down Mike Vick. 

Tony SparanoTony Sparano, Dolphins
2011 is a lost season for Miami, unless you're a big fan of Andrew Luck. But despite that, Sparano's done an incredible job of keeping his team motivated to play each week. They nearly upset the Giants in Week 8 and straight-up pummeled the Chiefs in Week 9.
Katzowitz Wilson
Lovie Smith Lovie Smith, Bears
Smith’s seat was growing warmer by the day with the Bears at 2-3, but now that Chicago has won three straight, Smith must be commended on the way his team dominated Minnesota, the way he set up his team for London to beat the Bucs and for the way the Bears beat the Eagles. Also, props to Mike Martz, who finally has figured out that his offensive line really should protect the quarterback.
Tony Sparano Tony Sparano, Dolphins
There's a very good chance Sparano's name will never again appear in our weekly awards so we're seizing the opportunity to recognize a man who could very well be out of a job before the new year. He beat the Chiefs in Kansas City, and he did it by getting the most out of Matt Moore, Reggie Bush and Brandon Marshall.

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