WBEZ | Jay Cutler http://www.wbez.org/tags/jay-cutler Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Bears fire GM Phil Emery, coach Marc Trestman http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/bears-fire-gm-phil-emery-coach-marc-trestman-111301 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/14732463489_37a7948514_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>LAKE FOREST, Ill. &mdash;&nbsp;The Chicago Bears fired general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman on Monday, making sweeping changes after missing the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years.</p><p>Trestman is out after going 13-19 in two seasons while Emery lasted just three years. The Bears went 5-11 in a mostly miserable season, never challenging for the NFC North lead after the first few weeks as quarterback Jay Cutler and the rest of the offense struggled mightily.</p><p>&quot;This job was an opportunity of a lifetime. My only regret is that we didn&#39;t win enough games for that opportunity to continue,&quot; Emery said in a brief session with reporters.</p><p>He also thanked the organization and borrowed a lyric from singer Carrie Newcomer, saying, &quot;We stand breathless on the clean edge of change. It&#39;s time to change and move forward.&quot;</p><p>Emery did not take questions from reporters.</p><p>Trestman, in a statement issued through the team, thanked the team-owning McCaskey family for the opportunity to coach the Bears.</p><p>&quot;I also want to thank all the coaches and players who gave us everything we asked over the past two years,&quot; he said. &quot;I have tremendous respect for this organization.&quot;</p><p>The new GM and coach could have a big decision to make with quarterback Jay Cutler. He tied Philip Rivers for the league lead with 18 interceptions after signing a huge, seven-year contract at the end of last season.</p><p>The house cleaning was certainly not what the Bears envisioned with a prolific offense returning intact and a rebuilt defense in tow. But little went right for Chicago this season.</p><p>There were distractions throughout the year, whether it was linebacker Lance Briggs being allowed to miss practice to open a restaurant in California the week of the opener or offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer admitting he was the NFL Network&#39;s source behind a critical report of Cutler late in the season.</p><p>Trestman, who was hired to get the most out of Cutler, benched the highly paid quarterback in favor of Jimmy Clausen for the second-to-last game of the season against Detroit. Cutler wound up starting the final game after Clausen suffered a concussion against the Lions, adding another chapter to a season-long soap opera.</p><p>Trestman also surprised some by allowing star receiver Brandon Marshall to fly to New York on a weekly basis to record Showtime&#39;s &quot;Inside the NFL.&quot; Marshall, who is open about his struggles with borderline personality disorder, had an off year and at one point gave a rambling news conference over past allegations of domestic abuse. He also challenged a Detroit fan on Twitter to a boxing match for charity, and reporters standing in the hallway overheard him screaming in the locker room after a loss to Miami at Soldier Field in October that raised all sorts of questions about where the team was headed.</p><p>The answers came right after that.</p><p>The Bears joined the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons as the only teams to give up 50 or more points in back-to-back games while dropping the next two at New England and Green Bay. Trestman&#39;s meek response after defensive end Lamarr Houston suffered a season-ending knee injury celebrating a late sack against the Patriots &mdash; &quot;I&#39;m disappointed for Lamarr,&quot; he said twice &mdash; only fueled doubts about his leadership.</p><p>In recent weeks, it was clear changes were coming. The question was how far up the ladder they would go.</p><p>&quot;At the end of the day, we didn&#39;t get the job done,&quot; tight end Martellus Bennett said. &quot;It&#39;s not just coaches. It&#39;s everybody. We didn&#39;t have a successful year as players. So the coaches didn&#39;t have a successful year. I think everybody has their hand in the pot. And the gumbo doesn&#39;t taste that great when everybody&#39;s hand is in the pot.&quot;</p><p>Emery, who replaced the fired Jerry Angelo, was hired with a mandate to work with former coach Lovie Smith for at least one season. He fired Smith after the Bears missed the playoffs despite a 10-6 record in 2012, ending a nine-year run that produced three playoff appearances and a trip to the Super Bowl.</p><p>Since, then, the team has been in decline.</p><p>Trestman led the CFL&#39;s Montreal Alouettes to two championships in five years but had never been a head coach in the NFL and at times seemed overmatched by the job. Along with the distractions, the offense took a huge step back: Chicago went from second in scoring to 23rd this year despite having all its starters back.</p><p>Giving Cutler a big contract after last season when the franchise player tag was an option is looking like another mistake. Emery did have success rebuilding the offensive line before the 2013 season, drafting Kyle Long and bringing in Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson.</p><p>But the makeover he gave the defense last offseason did not pay off. Chicago continued to rank among the league&#39;s worst in that area under Mel Tucker, with Jared Allen struggling and fellow newcomer Houston getting injured on that ill-advised sack celebration. Only the Saints and Falcons gave up more yards per game than the Bears.</p><p>Just like his predecessor, Emery also had a spotty draft record, with some hits such as Long and Alshon Jeffery and a big miss in Shea McClellin.</p><p>&quot;Something has to change,&quot; veteran cornerback Tim Jennings said. &quot;I&#39;m not surprised by it. I mean, hopefully it will be a good one this time.&quot;</p></p> Mon, 29 Dec 2014 13:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/bears-fire-gm-phil-emery-coach-marc-trestman-111301 Does Marc Trestman hold the Bears' Golden Ticket? http://www.wbez.org/news/does-marc-trestman-hold-bears-golden-ticket-108783 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Trestman AP Photo_Don Wright.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-7fcd7129-5c84-6b53-f704-d4025a62f3f1">Marc Trestman is a former college quarterback who was certainly known in and around football. He had 17 years of experience in the NFL with eight different organizations. He worked as a running backs&rsquo; coach, a quarterbacks&rsquo; coach and an offensive coordinator; he coached college ball too. He was a football savant but rubbed people the wrong way. And then...he disappeared.</p><p dir="ltr">The football world knew he was in Canada but didn&rsquo;t pay too much attention to that, according to Yahoo! Sports writer <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/news/football-thursday--bears-coach-marc-trestman-needed-exile-in-canada-to-overcome--doesn-t-relate-well--reputation-174051955.html">Les Carpenter</a>. Trestman had spent the last five years in Montreal coaching the Alouettes; he led the team to back-to-back Grey Cup championships, that&rsquo;s Canada&rsquo;s version of the Super Bowl. He was the CFL&rsquo;s Coach of the Year in 2009.</p><p dir="ltr">So what changed? Why after years of being bounced around the NFL was he suddenly this successful head coach? Carpenter traveled to Canada to find out.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think he went up there and he realized, &lsquo;I need to understand people. I need to deal with football players as people--not as names on a roster sheet or numbers in front of me on jerseys.&rsquo; And I think a lot of the players really embraced that. They felt, &lsquo;gosh, this is a guy who really cares about me,&rsquo;&rdquo; Carpenter explained.</p><p dir="ltr">That&rsquo;s certainly how Alouette wide receiver Brandon London felt&hellip;eventually.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t think that we were going to get along...because I was thinking in my head, here&rsquo;s a coach that&rsquo;s going to try and change me. But after that three years of being together, Coach Trestman&rsquo;s become a really good friend of mine, (a) really good mentor of mine,&rdquo; London said.</p><p dir="ltr">And London&rsquo;s not starving for football mentors. His father&rsquo;s Mike London, a former NFL player and the current head coach at the University of Virginia.</p><p dir="ltr">But, London said Trestman made him think about football in a very different, very detailed way. Or as he put it, &ldquo;obsessive.&rdquo; And Carpenter concurred.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;He wants things to be very meticulous...almost to the point where there can&rsquo;t be typos in the schedule that they put out every day for the things that they&rsquo;re going to do,&rdquo; Carpenter explained.</p><p dir="ltr">Trestman&rsquo;s current players had even more to say about his character.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I always say Coach Trestman reminds me of the first Willy Wonka...not the Johnny Depp one, the Johnny Depp one&rsquo;s really cool...but the first one. Cause if you really look at coach, he&rsquo;s a genius...I thought Willy Wonka was brilliant,&rdquo; tight end Martellus Bennett said recently.</p><p dir="ltr">And, the candy man, like Trestman, for those who don&rsquo;t remember, had an eye for detail.</p><p dir="ltr">It makes sense that Trestman is a meticulous guy. He is, after all, an attorney. He got his law degree while working as an assistant coach under Jimmy Johnson at the University of Miami. &nbsp;Between NFL gigs in the &lsquo;90s, Trestman also spent a few years working as a stockbroker, selling municipal bonds and managing investment portfolios.</p><p dir="ltr">Oh...and he <a href="http://www.coachmarctrestman.com/">wrote a book</a> about perseverance and leadership and he is frequently referred to as a genius. But Carpenter said that Trestman&rsquo;s smarts often rubbed people the wrong way.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think it was some of the bookish look, the lawyerish look as somebody described it to me...I think some of it was that idea that he wasn&rsquo;t going to come out drinking, he wasn&rsquo;t going to hang out in bars with other coaches,&rdquo; Carpenter surmised.</p><p dir="ltr">That seemed to be something Trestman was able to work through in Montreal. Because London called him a friend and Bears tight end Martellus Bennett now says the Bears look at their coach as one of the players.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;He&rsquo;s just like of the guys out there...he&rsquo;s like a teammate to us, he&rsquo;s not just a coach...he&rsquo;s part of this team,&rdquo; Bennett explained.</p><p dir="ltr">WBEZ sports contributor Cheryl Raye-Stout has covered the Monsters of the Midway for the better part of three decades. She wasn&rsquo;t sold on the Wonka analogy but said, &ldquo;If they [the Bears] could make the playoffs, then the Golden Ticket I think would be punched then.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">She said the surest way to do that is to get Jay Cutler to buy in--and that shouldn&rsquo;t be too difficult for Trestman. He coached some of the NFL&rsquo;s best quarterbacks. He coached Steve Young and Rich Gannon; Gannon won the NFL MVP during Trestman&rsquo;s time with the Oakland Raiders.</p><p dir="ltr">And, Raye-Stout said, Trestman has already put in extra time with Cutler.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Trestman took all of every negative play that Cutler had last year...all the sacks, all the interceptions, all the bad plays and showed it to him. To kind of show him, this is what we&rsquo;re gonna work on. Jay was taken aback at first and then realized, he was dealing with someone that was not just on his level but above his level,&rdquo; Raye-Stout recalled.</p><p dir="ltr">At the end of the day, Bears fans won&rsquo;t care if Trestman is Willy Wonka, a lawyer, a quarterbacks coach, a stockbroker or a genius...so long as he&rsquo;s a winner.</p><p>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez">@katieobez.</a></p></p> Thu, 26 Sep 2013 18:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/does-marc-trestman-hold-bears-golden-ticket-108783 New faces shine on Bears' coaching staff http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-02/new-faces-shine-bears-coaching-staff-105553 <p><p>It&#39;s been nine years since the Bears had this much upheaval with its coaching staff. Last week, new head coach Marc Trestman made the new staff available to the media for the first time since they were hired.&nbsp;Here are some of highlights from the session:</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_marc_trestman_jim_prisching.jpg" style="float: left; height: 445px; width: 300px;" title="Bears head coach Marc Trestman has assembled his staff. Now the work begins. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)" />Trestman&#39;s main buzz word is <strong>teaching</strong>. Like a newly-assembled band, some of these coaches have worked together before, but others are still trying to blend their talents.&nbsp;A wide receiver coach is the only vacancy.</p><p>Since the majority of&nbsp;staff has been together just a few weeks, <strong>getting the play book</strong>, not evaluating players, has been the focus.&nbsp;</p><p>Quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh briefly spoke of his main pupil, Jay Cutler. Explaining why he has not yet evaluated the Bears&#39; quarterback, Cavanaugh said, &quot;It&rsquo;s not fair not to get to know the person, not to get to work with him personally and base everything from film.&quot; But Cavanaugh has worked with Trestman in the past, and said they are on the same page with most of the offensive schemes.</p><p>Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker may have the most difficult job ahead. But he&#39;s confident that once players see the plan they will be on the same page. Tucker also stated there are <strong>no plans to change the Bears defense </strong>from a 4-3 to a 3-4.</p><p>Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer has a tough job ahead. He wants &ldquo;five guys that can play together with a couple of back-ups&rdquo; on the line. There were no specifics about the players he has to work with from the present roster, but the new coach said he will work them out to&nbsp;find&nbsp;their attributes. As a whole, they&#39;ll use <strong>an attacking style offense</strong>&nbsp;with multiple formations and quick passing. Kromer likes to use the tight end in this offense. Of course, they need to find one first to make it work. . . .</p><p>Assistant line coach Pat Meyer may be new to the Bears, but not to Marc Trestman: They worked together in Montreal and at NC State. Meyer talked about what to expect from the new Bears coach. &ldquo;He is going to be very player-friendly, [and] he is very intelligent &ndash; smart with schemes for both pass and run,&quot; Meyer said. &quot;[Trestman&#39;s] &nbsp;excited and likes to bring emotion to the game.&rdquo; Meyer also said Trestman likes to have his staff &ldquo;share their knowledge.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, former Bear Chris Harris is starting his transition from the playing field to coaching staff. Trestman was impressed that Harris was willing to start at the bottom rung in defensive quality control. He will be spending plenty of time at a computer rather than hitting a receiver. There is still no clear picture of Brian Urlacher&rsquo;s status; he&#39;s talked with Trestman but that&#39;s the extent of it.</p><p>Next up: In a few days, the Bears staff will travel to Indianapolis for the NFL scouting combine. There&#39;s still a lot of work to do in the weeks and months to come.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="http://&lt;https://twitter.com/Crayestout&gt;">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame">Cheryl Raye-Stout #AtTheGame</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 18 Feb 2013 10:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-02/new-faces-shine-bears-coaching-staff-105553 Can the Bears make it to the Super Bowl in 2014? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-02/can-bears-make-it-super-bowl-2014-105293 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/rsz_1lombardi_trophy Michael Conroy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Bears new head coach Marc Trestman is on the clock&mdash;he and GM Phil Emery have a year to get the Bears prepared for the 2014 Super Bowl at the Meadowlands.</p><p>Can they do it?</p><p>It seems like a tall order, but Chicago Bear fans are restless since it has been twenty seven years since they have tasted victory. Fans have watched the New York Giants win it four times, Dallas three and New England has grabbed three Super Bowls. The Packers have two Vince Lombardi trophies. Last night they saw Baltimore capture it for a second time. Runner-up San Francisco has won four since Mike Ditka and the Bears beat New England for their only Super Bowl win. And the window of opportunity is closing with several players on defense. So what does Trestman and to a larger extent Phil Emery have to do between now and next February? There are more questions than answers at this point</p><p>-They need all sorts of help on the offensive line; it has been a patchwork quilt the way it was assembled the past few years. Have you ever bought your child a Lego set with 400 pieces and lose the instructions? That is how this unit of the Bears seems to be at this point. They have to make decisions on&nbsp; injured guard&nbsp;Lance Louis (free agent), he is their most athletic lineman. Is Gabe Carimi healthy and strong enough to play right tackle? Is Roberto Garza the answer at center or should he move back to guard? Let&#39;s not talk about J&#39;Marcus Webb, there has been way too much effort and attention paid to a player that handled the most difficult and demanding position on the line-and he just isn&#39;t good enough. I can go on and on about this problem, but the Bears have to solve it with the draft and free agency.</p><p>-In order to take on the next bit of business, Jay Cutler, the first area has to be addressed. Cutler has one year left on his contract, he has dealt with so many offensive coordinators and schemes the change will be entertaining to say the least. While Phil Emery calls him a &quot;franchise&quot; quarterback, that was not a label his new coach has given Cutler. Is it a ploy to spur the Bears quarterback or is it the real belief by the new coach? Sometimes when someone is the smartest person in the room (Jay Cutler), you need someone smarter to have the upper hand (Marc Trestman). One of the biggest problems for&nbsp; the Bears has been time management. How many times did we see the Bears QB call a time out due to poor communication? It was apparent that play calling was a big problem and Trestman will be handling that chore. If Jay Cutler could guide the Bears to a Super Bowl win, he would own this town the rest of his life. If he wants proof, just ask anyone from the &rsquo;85 team.&nbsp;</p><p>-The Bears defense did a great job last season, they were ranked at least in the top 10 in all the defensive categories. However, they are getting long in the tooth and Bears management has a difficult decision to make-what to do with free-agent linebacker Brian Urlacher? His age, his injury issues and what direction the team is going to take with new coordinator Mel Tucker will all weigh in with GM Phil Emery&rsquo;s decision.</p><p>Some other key defensemen that are free agents include, All Pro Henry Melton, Israel Idonjie, Nick Roach, Kelvin Hayden, Geno Hayes, DJ Moore and Nate Collins.</p><p>It may be disconcerting that with two starting&nbsp;linebackers and a back-up in that position someone could leave via free agency, but 26-year-old Melton&rsquo;s loss would be a bigger pill to swallow as his play has progressed on the defensive line.</p><p>-There are twenty free agents (two restricted) and the defensive players previously mentioned will have to be sorted out by Emery in March. Following that free agency period,&nbsp;the NFL draft will be&nbsp;April 25<sup>th</sup>-27<sup>th</sup>&nbsp;and the Bears have the 20<sup>th</sup> selection in the first round.</p><p>Last year Emery made a huge acquisition when he dealt a pair of third round picks for All Pro wide receiver Brandon Marshall-it is easy to say that paid off.</p><p>-What to do with some of the current Bears? Already mentioned Brian Urlacher, but will Devin Hester return? Starting tight end Kellen Davis (that should be a no)? And does free agent Jason Campbell merit a return to back up Cutler?</p><p>&nbsp;Can the Bears make the Super Bowl next year? You straighten out the offensive line, get a tight end, change a poor offense, get the most out of an aging defense, stay healthy and have a team learn to play under a new coaching staff-with a first time NFL head coach--- possibly.</p><p>&nbsp;Circle next February&nbsp;2nd for the Super Bowl, that should be what the Bears are targeting. We&rsquo;ll see.</p><p>&nbsp;Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">@CRayeStout</a> and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a></p></p> Mon, 04 Feb 2013 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-02/can-bears-make-it-super-bowl-2014-105293 Are the Bears losing steam down the stretch with another loss? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/are-bears-losing-steam-down-stretch-another-loss-104288 <p><p>Is it déjà vu all over again for the Bears? After a 7-1 start for the season they are now 8-5 and&nbsp;their playoff picture gets hazy after losing to Minnesota 21-14. Last year after a 7-3 start, injuries hit the Bears and the wheels came off.</p><p><strong>Back on their heels:</strong></p><p>It was the Adrian Peterson show from the first snap for Minnesota. The Vikings drove down the field on the opening drive powered by Peterson&#39;s running. He capped that drive with a 2-yd score and got into the endzone-- again-- moments later after a Jay Cutler interception. The Viking running back amassed 125 yards in the first quarter and 154 yards for the game. Petersen is having a monster season after returning from his ACL injury--Bulls fans may be encouraged about Derrick Rose after watching him play.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_brandon_marshall-minn.jpg" style="float: left; height: 393px; width: 280px;" title="Despite setting a Bear record-Brandon Marshall and the Bears lose.(AP Photo/Andy King)" />The Bears tried to play catch-up all game, down two scores after three minutes. Cutler was able to connect with rookie Alshon Jeffery in the final two minutes of the half with a 23 yard pass reception for a touchdown. The Bears had several drives that stalled and were unable to overcome the deficit. Cutler&rsquo;s second interception in the third quarter was costly. The Bears quarterback&rsquo;s pass intended for Brandon Marshall sailed over the receiver&rsquo;s head into the hands of Harrison Smith and the Viking defender ran in for a touchdown. Knowing the Bears had to throw to get back in this game, Minnesota applied pressure to the Jay Cutler. The Bears QB scrambled and got some incredible catches by Marshall. The big receiver had 10 receptions for 160 yards. Marshall has caught more balls in one season for the Bears-101- breaking Marty Booker&rsquo;s mark from 2001. There are still three games for him to add to that total. As the game was winding down, Cutler was on the sidelines with a sore neck&nbsp;after taking another beating; Marshall caught a touchdown from back-up quarterback Jason Campbell. &nbsp;Too little&mdash;too late.</p><p><strong>Banged up defense got better:</strong></p><p>Petersen&rsquo;s romp through the Bears defense early in the game magnified the missing starters. Injuries have taken its toll-losing Brian Urlacher and Tim Jennings. Before the game Defensive tackle Stephen Paea was ruled before the game. In reality-- the Bears defense can&rsquo;t be faulted. In the second half, they made good adjustments; there is not much they could do with when the offense gives up the winning score.</p><p>For the game, the &ldquo;D&rdquo; held Christian Ponder to just 11 of 17 for 91 yards and an interception by Major Wright. Petersen only had 20 yards the second half.</p><p>If you look at the final statistics-you would believe the Bears had won the game. The Bears had 438 total yards to the Vikings 248&mdash;the final score is the only numbers that matter.</p><p><strong>Here were some of the glaring problems:</strong></p><p>The receivers dropped too many key passes, Devin Hester and Alshon has balls that should have been caught for touchdowns. Marshall dropped some too, however, overall you cannot fault his game.</p><p>What is the long-term status of Robbie Gould? He strained his left calf during warm ups. In essence he was available for only point after touchdowns. The Bears were forced to punt rather than a long field goal.</p><p>There were other injuries that could be factors on special teams-Shea McClellin, Craig Steltz and Sherrick McManis all went down in this game. May not seem important-but their roles are essential to a team that depends on their play.</p><p><strong>Can the Bears rebound next week against&nbsp;the Green Bay Packers?</strong></p><p>The Packer are a team they have been unable to beat and a game that will have huge consequences for the playoffs. Despite a team that has also been hit with injuries, Green Bay still has been able to find ways to win.</p><p>Right now looking at this Bears team, they are banged up-not in sync-despite some great individual play. They better get it together these final three games&mdash;or they will enter the New Year watching the post-season&mdash;again.</p><p>Follow Cheryl on Twitter @CRayeStout&lt;<a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">https://twitter.com/Crayestout</a>&gt; and Facebook Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame">http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame</a></p></p> Mon, 10 Dec 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/are-bears-losing-steam-down-stretch-another-loss-104288 Bears stunned by Seattle in OT http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/bears-stunned-seattle-ot-104153 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_bear_fan_praying.jpg" title="A Bears fan's prayer is not answered in the OT loss. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)" /></div><p>The Bears defense wilted in the final minutes against Seattle Sunday, with Coach Lovie Smith taking the blame for a poor 4th down decision. The offense had some big plays, but didn&#39;t control the ball late &mdash; the result was a 23-17 overtime loss.</p><p><strong>Defense blows 4th quarter lead</strong></p><p>The Bears defense has been the team&#39;s strength throughout the season. But Seattle&#39;s rookie quarterback Russell Wilson saved his best for last; he drove a go-ahead touchdown late in the 4th quarter and guided the Seahawks to a game winning score to Golden Tate in the OT. Safety Major Wright&#39;s huge hit on Tate almost caused a fumble, but after one of many reviews of the game, it was ruled a game winner for Seattle. Wright, as well as the rest of the Bears, was stunned by the dramatic defeat. &ldquo;We definitely got to come out and play better football,&rdquo; said Wright. &ldquo;This is a tough loss to swallow.&rdquo; The defense looked worn out and suffered more injuries: Tim Jennings hurt his shoulder and Brian Urlacher had a sore hamstring. Another factor for the Bears defense was losing starting safety Chris Conte; he was weakened by the flu during the first half. His absence seemed to open up the running game for Seattle&#39;s Marshawn Lynch and Wilson (71 yards rushing).</p><p><strong>Point a finger at Lovie Smith (he did)</strong></p><p>The advantage should have belonged to the Bears, so when a team loses at home to a club that has only one previous road win, you have to analyze certain game decisions. The big one was early on, when Coach Lovie Smith decided in the second quarter to forgo a short field goal 4th and inches on Seattle&rsquo;s 15 yard line. Smith trusted a revamped offensive line to get the first down &mdash; it didn&rsquo;t work. After the game the Bears&#39; coach took full responsibility for his decision. &quot;We should have taken the field goal. It felt like we had momentum,&quot; Smith said.&quot;[I] wanted to really try to knock them out and get them on their heels a little bit.&quot;</p><p><strong>Did the Bears score enough? Probably.</strong></p><p>Jay Cutler got his team on the board early in the first after the defense gave him good field position off a forced fumble by Brian Urlacher. Cutler again found his big player, receiver Brandon Marshall, throwing touchdowns to Earl Bennett and Matt Forte. But Bennett&#39;s helicoptered effort to get into the end zone may have been costly. Although he continued to play and dropped what looked like a sure touchdown, Bennett was ruled out during the intermission because of a concussion. Cutler lamented that the offense didn&#39;t help the defense enough by not controlling the ball late, which allowed the Seahawks too many opportunities. Cutler and Brandon Marshall deserve huge credit with the amazing 56-yard pass play with seconds left in regulation. &ldquo;I told Brandon to run as fast as he could down there, and I&rsquo;ll throw it to you and you make a play. That&rsquo;s what he did,&rdquo; said Cutler. That pass completion gave Robbie Gould the opportunity to tie the game with a 31-yard field goal. Marshall finished the game with an incredible 165 reception yards. The problem in overtime the Bears offense never got to touch the ball.</p><p><strong>OT-turned out to be &#39;Oh, no&#39;</strong></p><p>The Bears didn&rsquo;t win the coin toss to get the ball on offense in the overtime. If the Bears &ldquo;D&rdquo; could have held Seattle to a field goal, the Bears would have been given an opportunity to tie or win with a touchdown. Unfortunately, the Bears defense was exhausted and couldn&rsquo;t stop the Seahawks from getting into the end zone.</p><p><strong>Looking forward</strong></p><p>The Bears are now 8-4 for the season and fall to second in the NFC North with Green Bay beating Minnesota.&nbsp; The Packers&#39; earlier&nbsp;win over the Bears gives the tie-breaker to Green Bay. That is why the loss on Sunday was a heart-breaker. Next week the Bears will travel to Minnesota, and every game from now on will have significant importance as the season winds down. There is plenty of work for Lovie Smith and his staff to do to get this tired and banged up team ready for the playoff push.</p></p> Mon, 03 Dec 2012 09:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/bears-stunned-seattle-ot-104153 Bears make changes on O-line with QBs hurting http://www.wbez.org/news/bears-make-changes-o-line-qbs-hurting-103980 <p><p>The Chicago Bears will not know until at least Thursday and possibly Friday whether quarterback Jay Cutler will play against the Minnesota Vikings this weekend.</p><p>They know for certain some things will change within the offense.</p><p>Cutler, who missed the last game and a half due to a concussion, will go through a limited practice Thursday then could get the go-ahead for a full practice Friday ahead of Sunday&#39;s game.</p><p>&quot;Jay has to be cleared to practice on a limited basis, which he has been cleared to do that,&quot; coach Lovie Smith said Wednesday. &quot;Before he can play, he has to be cleared by an independent neurologist, and we&#39;re not to that point.&quot;</p><p>Cutler said he feels fine, is symptom-free and hopes to get medical approval to play.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ve got to see some more doctors, got to go on the field and make sure you can exert yourself, really,&quot; he said. &quot;It&#39;s a personal thing, just making sure you feel OK.&quot;</p><p>Cutler was injured during the Houston game as he scrambled to try and throw a pass in the open field, and has often done this when his struggling offensive line has failed to protect him. He said the concussion, his second with the Bears and third in the NFL, will not make him less willing to take risks.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s not going to change the way I play football,&quot; he said. &quot;It&#39;s not going to change my desire to return to the field by any means.&quot;</p><p>To make sure Cutler or backup Jason Campbell is properly protected in the future, the Bears are considering changes at offensive tackle. They allowed six sacks to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night and have given up 34 on the year, second only to Arizona (44).</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s never job security when you put up a performance like that across the board,&quot; center Roberto Garza said.</p><p>Starting left guard Chilo Rachal was placed on the reserve/left team list for personal reasons that were not disclosed. As a result, either Chris Spencer or Edwin Williams could get a start at left guard against veteran Jared Allen and the Vikings.</p><p>Spencer started the first two games at left guard this season before Rachal was moved into the spot. Williams started the final seven games at left guard in 2011 after an injury to Chris Williams.</p><p>There could be changes coming at tackle, as well, after right tackle Gabe Carimi and left tackle J&#39;Marcus Webb both struggled against the 49ers.</p><p>Offensive coordinator Mike Tice said veteran tackle Jonathan Scott, acquired in early September after playing for Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Buffalo in a seven-year career, has the ability to start at tackle.</p><p>&quot;I have been in meetings for the last three months, so I&#39;ve been paying attention,&quot; Scott said. &quot;I believe I am ready.&quot;</p><p>Carimi, the 2011 first-round draft pick from Wisconsin, was beaten several times by 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith and has never looked 100 percent after offseason knee surgery.</p><p>&quot;He gets all worked up and he doesn&#39;t settle down and it compounds it,&quot; Tice said. &quot;It&#39;s happened more than once. It compounds and it keeps building. So, he&#39;s a young player and he has to work through it. He really does.&quot;</p><p>Webb has started at left tackle the last two seasons after starting at right tackle as a rookie.</p><p>&quot;You know, it all boils down to him, when he uses his hands,&quot; Tice said. &quot;He&#39;s OK. He&#39;s not bad. And the few times this game that he used his hands, he blocked his guy. But when he doesn&#39;t use his hands, he&#39;s just a big, tall guy out there getting edgy and getting knocked around.&quot;</p><p>With the offense now ranked 30th in the league and the passing attack 31st, Tice is searching for answers. One possibility won&#39;t be Tice relinquishing play-calling duties to quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s no consideration of that, I don&#39;t know where you got that from,&quot; Smith told reporters.</p><p>Tice said the Bears&#39; offense simply has to block better. Without that he said they &quot;could bring Joe Gibbs out of retirement and have him call the plays,&quot; and the offense would still struggle.</p><p>Notes: DE Shea McClellin was given clearance to go through a full practice following a concussion suffered two weeks ago, which means he will be available to play Sunday unless he has more symptoms. WR Alshon Jeffery underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and Smith said the rookie will miss two to four weeks. Jeffery had just come back from a fractured right hand before suffering a knee injury in the second half against San Francisco.</p></p> Thu, 22 Nov 2012 08:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/bears-make-changes-o-line-qbs-hurting-103980 Opinion: Sit NFL players with concussions for at least a game http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/opinion-sit-nfl-players-concussions-least-game-103855 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_jay_cutler-houston.jpg" style="height: 437px; width: 620px;" title="Jay Cutler's concussion has been a hot topic this week. (AP Photo/Nam Y.Huh)" /></div><p><em>Updated 12:39 p.m.&nbsp;</em></p><p>Sitting NFL players with concussions is a no brainer. So why isn&rsquo;t it mandatory?</p><p>Last Sunday the league had three starting quarterbacks get &quot;knocked out&quot; of the game: The Bears&#39; Jay Cutler, San Francisco&#39;s Alex Smith and Philadelphia&#39;s Michael Vick. Smith has already been cleared to go back on the field. On Friday, the Bears announced their decision to rest Cutler and start Jason Campbell in the game against San Francisco Monday. There is still no time table for when Cutler will be able to return.</p><p>I&#39;m glad the Bears have decided to rest Cutler. When a player is concussed, the question about whether he should play the following week should be simple &mdash; no. Not maybe, not &quot;waiting for medical evaluations&quot; &mdash; it should be a flat no.&nbsp;The NFL has made a lot of noise with their concerns for concussions, but not enough. When a player has been removed from a game or is diagnosed with a concussion after a game he needs time to recover before any new physical contact. A&nbsp;rule should be in place that bars the player from the next game. Period.&nbsp;</p><p>I don&rsquo;t want to hear that injures are &ldquo;part of the game,&rdquo; please. This kind of injury can &mdash; and will &mdash; complicate a player&rsquo;s health, and possibly their future, if it&#39;s not treated the right way. This is not like an ankle or knee injury; they need legitimate time to recover from a brain injury.</p><p>Recovery time will vary since the severity of the injury will vary.&nbsp;But give the players at least 10 to 14 days to recover. We know from Cutler&rsquo;s past history that he had one concussion two years ago with the Bears and suffered others in college. That&rsquo;s one too many to take any chances with his career &mdash; and his future. We&#39;ve seen the effects repeated head injuries have had on former players, notably<a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1205982/index.htm"> Jim McMahon.</a> He is now suffering from early dementia. &nbsp;</p><p>As to that hit Jay Cutler took, by many accounts it was a &ldquo;clean&rdquo; hit by Houston&rsquo;s Tim Dobbins. Really. Then why did the league fine Dobbins $30,000? The NFL should have fined him for gloating about taking down Cutler after the game, too. And while they&#39;re at it, the league should add long suspensions to players who sack that way. Players will shrug off the money &mdash; playing time not so much.</p><p>Football is a game of hitting; there is no denying that basic aspect of the game. But the manner in which it&#39;s done and the ferocity of the impact it still&nbsp;a problem for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league. The concussions are not decreasing and must be dealt with, especially for the sake of the players&#39; futures.&nbsp;So why not have the players miss a minimum of one game? Winning can&rsquo;t be everything &mdash; or wait. In this league it is.</p><p><em>This article was updated to indicate the Bears&#39; decision to rest Culter.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 16 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/opinion-sit-nfl-players-concussions-least-game-103855 Bears lose Cutler and the game http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/bears-lose-cutler-and-game-103789 <p><p>The Bears&#39; miserable&nbsp;13-6 loss to Houston mirrored the weather conditions of the game at Soldier Field. Rain came down the whole evening and it wasn&rsquo;t just the score that had the fans upset. Quarterback Jay Cutler couldn&rsquo;t play the second half.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_1jason_campbell_was_pressed_into_service_nam_y_huh.jpg" style="height: 182px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="Jason Campbell pressed into the starting role. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)" />Bears offensive mistakes &ndash; two fumbles and two interceptions by Cutler overshadowed two Tim Jennings interceptions in the first half. The Bears cornerback leads the NFL with eight this season. Going into the halftime, the 10-3 lead by Houston wasn&#39;t horrible, but the news once the third quarter began gave everyone pause: Cutler suffered from concussion-like symptoms.</p><p>Even though the Bears QB had not been sacked he had taken several hits, especially when he scrambled on the run. Houston linebacker Tim Dobbins nailed Cutler late in the second quarter, at one point that seems to be the telling blow to his head. After the game, Coach Lovie Smith wasn&rsquo;t certain that was the hit the forced Cutler out of the game. &ldquo;He took a lot of hits, more than he needed to take. No symptoms until the half,&rdquo; said Smith.</p><p>In the third quarter, it was up to the Bears back-up quarterback, Jason Campbell to take the snaps, a tough spot since he had not taken any during the week with the first unit. In the locker room, Cutler told Campbell about his situation, &ldquo;At halftime, he (Jay) looked at me and told me to be ready. He wasn&rsquo;t sure of his status, and they were thinking about what was the best decision moving forward.&rdquo;</p><p>In the third quarter, Campbell drove the Bears down to the 4 yard line &ndash;&nbsp;highlighted by a 46 yard pass reception to Brandon Marshall. The drive stalled and the Bears settled for a Robbie Gould 24 yard field goal to make it a 10-6. On the Bears next drive in the 4<sup>th</sup> quarter, Gould missed a 47 yarder that would have drawn them to within a point. The Texans did tack on another field goal to make it a 13-6--which was the final score.</p><p>It just felt that there wasn&rsquo;t enough time or offensive capability by the Bears to provide a comeback. The weather was becoming a factor, as the field was taking a beating with the constant rain and the field was difficult to play on.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_jay_cutler_one_too_many_hits_nam_y_huh.jpg" style="height: 403px; width: 280px; float: right;" title="Jay Cutler wasn't sacked-he was hit plenty. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)" />A couple of positives on offense for the Bears, Brandon Marshall continues to put up the big numbers going over a hundred yards (fifth time this year) on eight catches. Ironically, the day Cutler goes out with a head injury there were no sacks on the team&rsquo;s two quarterbacks.</p><p>Defensively, the Bears had their hands full with Houston running back Arian Foster. He had 102 yards-85 in the first half, and a two yard touchdown reception in the second quarter. Texan QB Matt Schaub was held in check, completing 14 of 26 passes for a meager 95 yards with 1 touchdown and two picks.</p><p>You really can&#39;t fault the Bears defense; they only gave up 13 points-that is usually enough for a team to post a &quot;W&quot;.</p><p>Houston&#39;s defense got a boost from former Bear Daniel Manning, he forced fumbles from Bears tight end Kellen Davis and running back Michael Bush and grabbed a Cutler interception. Sometimes revenge is sweet as he helped the Bears fall to 7 and 2 overall and helped the Texans improved to 8-1.</p><p>There were no definitive thoughts on whether Jay Cutler will be available to play next week&#39;s game at San Francisco. Lovie Smith did not want to speculate on his status. It is interesting that the 49ers are in the same boat, yesterday they lost their starting quarterback Alex Smith to a concussion in their tie with St. Louis.</p><p>Last year when the Bears lost Cutler for the season, the team struggled with his back-ups; the feeling is Campbell is a huge upgrade. If he has to take the reins Campbell should perform better after a week of practices. The former Oakland and Washington quarterback better&mdash;that is why they signed him.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">Twitter @CRayeStout&nbsp;</a>and <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame?fref=ts">Facebook Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 12 Nov 2012 01:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/bears-lose-cutler-and-game-103789 Bears are looking good – so far http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/bears-are-looking-good-%E2%80%93-so-far-103743 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_bears_helmet.jpg" style="height: 406px; width: 620px;" title="The first half has been successful; the second half will be tough.(AP Photo/Joe Howell)" /></div><p>The Chicago Bears have eight down and eight left &mdash; games that is. With a 7 and 1 record the Bears are enjoying their view from the top of the NFC North. Here&#39;s what&#39;s working and what is down the road.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>It&#39;s the &quot;D&quot;&nbsp;</strong></p><p>When the season opened in September the feeling was the Bears aging defense would have to be bolstered by the somewhat revamped offense: Urlacher was coming off knee surgery, Tim Jennings was almost an ex-Bear after his 2012 performance, the safeties were questionable and Tillman, Briggs, Urlacher and Peppers have years of wear and tear on their collective bodies.&nbsp;</p><p>This Bears unit has played at a very high level; Jennings leads the league with six interceptions, Urlacher is not what he was, but is still contributing, Peppers is the glue to the defensive line and is doubled-team on nearly every play. That frees up the rest of the line to pressure the quarterback; Briggs and the rest of the defense dominate against opposing running backs and Tillman is having a monster season<strong>.</strong> His forced fumbles and his ability to cover receivers are a challenge for all the offensive coordinators in the league.&nbsp;</p><p>The defensive line rotation allows for rest and using players&#39; strengths &mdash;&nbsp;Stephen Paea, Henry Melton, Israel Idonije, Wooten and Peppers are making huge contributions. Rookie Shea McClellin has fared well on passing downs. With the line&#39;s play, it has enabled the Bears safeties the space to play the &quot;Tampa 2&quot; defense and make adjustments when needed.</p><p>Already this season the Bears have grabbed NFC defensive player honors, Jennings for September, Tillman for October and Urlacher defensive player for this past week.</p><p>This Bears defense is a feared group right now and they will be tested on Sunday against the Houston Texans.</p><p><strong>Bears &quot;O&quot; not quite there yet</strong></p><p>It&#39;s hard to imagine the Bears have a receiver actually playing at the level of his capability, but that is exactly what Brandon Marshall is doing. What an absolute steal by General Manager Phil Emery for two third-round draft picks. The rapport between Marshall and his QB Jay Cutler is elevating each and every game. Cutler is still dealing with an offensive line that has many issues, although Lance Louis is really making big strides.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_tillman_strip.jpg" style="float: right; height: 178px; width: 300px;" title="Bears Charles Tillman has had a monster first half. (AP Photo/Joe Howell)" />The Bears are still making a concerted effort to get the ground game going for Matt Forte. Rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery was a nice complement to Marshall until he broke his hand. His return may be in the next few weeks. The rest of the receivers, particularly, Devin Hester has struggled. Earl Bennett was hampered by injuries and has had some key receptions the past two games. The offense has not gotten on track to start the game, different story in the fourth quarter where Jay Cutler has a 135 passer rating that leads the NFL&nbsp;There is no doubt the chemistry between Cutler and Marshall has made them on of the best quarterback-receiver duos to be reckoned with in the league.&nbsp;</p><p>The Bears offense has been aided by the scoring defense, but they are looking for more balance.</p><p><strong>Special teams are always special</strong></p><p>Year in and year out, Coach Dave Toub continues to have this unit thrive.Their coverage has been outstanding and Robbie Gould is still one of the league&rsquo;s most reliable kickers. If there is a concern, it has been with Devin Hester. His role has switched from concentrating on returns to limited receiving plays, to more snaps on offense after Jeffrey&#39;s injury. Last Sunday it was important for Hester to have a punt return that almost scored. He needs success to build on.</p><p>Last week the punt block by Sherrick McManis was a big play that earned him NFC Special Team Player honors. Just before the season started the Bears dealt Tyler Clutts to Houston for McManis-sometimes a small deal pays off.</p><p><strong>What happens now?</strong></p><p>Houston on Sunday, followed by San Francisco the following week give the Bears two difficult opponents to start the second half. They also have four divisional games left on the schedule.</p><p>Health will be a factor &mdash; don&rsquo;t forget the Bears were 7-3 last year when Cutler&rsquo;s and Forte&rsquo;s injuries ruined playoff hopes.</p><p>The Bears do not want anything derailing their post-season chances. They have a strong opportunity to do something special &mdash; and they are half way there.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout">@CRayeStout</a> and Facebook <a href="http://&lt;http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame?fref=ts&gt;">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 09 Nov 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/bears-are-looking-good-%E2%80%93-so-far-103743