Non-Cutler Thoughts from Sunday’s Win Over San Diego (with a couple Cutler thoughts)

| November 22nd, 2011

We are not going to harp on the Jay Cutler injury around here. For the foreseeable future Caleb Hanie is the starting quarterback of the Chicago Bears and no expansive word count columns from me are going to change that. Here’s what I saw Sunday.

  • I wrote about it earlier in the year and was maligned by some commenters but Nick Roach is turning into a terrific linebacker. He’s no longer a placeholder, the third guy. He’s a playmaker now.
  • I am hearing a lot of criticism of the fake punt Lovie called late. I guess I’m in the minority because I loved the call and the Bears had about seven open receivers on the play. I like that kind of aggressiveness with a lead. That’s how championship teams act.
  • Frank Reich.
  • My MVP of the game is Tyler Clutts, one of the most underrated Jerry Angelo signings of his career. When Pat Mannelly went down for the year with a ruptured ACL, Clutts handled the long-snapping duties with ease. When long snappers go down, teams often struggle executing extra points. The Bears did not miss a beat thanks to Clutts.
  • Roy Williams is running crisp routes and catching the ball. Caleb Hanie is going to need him to continue doing so.
  • I think Mike Martz needs to start working in more pitches to Matt Forte. The offensive line is far better blocking in space than out-toughing big defensive tackles up the gut. Get Forte outside and let him make tacklers miss.
  • Henry Melton sometimes looks like he can be the best defensive tackle in the sport.
  • Jeff Hostetler.
  • I don’t use pop culture references in my sportswriting because I think it’s easy and Bill Simmons made his career on it. But I started hearing Lloyd Bridges in Airplane! watching Peanut Tillman cover Vincent Jackson, thinking I picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue. After a week of being touted for Pro Bowl consideration, Peanut struggled mightily to stop VJ from doing anything.
  • Peanut did record one classic Peanut ball punch. I’ve never seen anything like Tillman’s ability to force fumbles.
  • I’ve never seen a coach do what Norv Turner did yesterday. He wanted to challenge the Marion Barber down by contact late and instead of just challenging it, he burns a timeout. Then, AFTER the timeout, he challenged it. And lost that challenge because the play WAS NOT CLOSE. So Norv burns his last two timeouts for no conceivable reason.
  • Tom Brady.
  • Someone explain to me why any team would punt the ball to Devin Hester. I’m not writing this rhetorically, either. I need to see some data now. Because it keeps happening and Hester keeps not being tackled. Is there some moronic nerd stat that I don’t know about saying teams actually benefit from kicking the ball to Hester?
  • Nice to see Corey Graham and Brandon Meriweather making contributions. Somehow I like the Bears secondary depth.
  • Aside from the falling down, Johnny Knox played an excellent game.
  • One point on Cutler’s injury. I can’t think of a way I’d rather see the franchise quarterback get injured. On an interception that was entirely Johnny Knox’s fault, Cutler saved a touchdown with his hustle and aggressiveness. If Favre did what Cutler did, it would have been the lead story on every highlight show for a month.
  • When a safety is struggling in Lovie’s defense, there is usually no deep coverage on the go route. Chris Conte is a step or two away from making big plays in the pass game. He looks quite comfortable back there.
  • The football finds Major Wright.
  • Give Chargers tackle Brandyn Dombrowski some credit. Even when he didn’t have help on the outside, he played Julius Peppers well all afternoon.
  • How does Philip Rivers consider what he did “throwing the ball away”? Why would he not release the ball out of bounds? Rivers is having a terrible year and plays like that make it quite obvious his issues are not entirely physical.
  • I wanted to write about Earl Bennett but he’s just a good receiver. Every week. He’s becoming the most consistent wide receiver we’ve seen around here since Marty Booker. If you pair him with a real ten-catch-a-game #1 you will have some serious weapons on this roster.
  • It has become very apparent that Devin Hester is becoming a smaller and smaller part of what the Bears do on offense.
  • DirecTV and the NFL need to solve some things. Chargers at Bears was the national game yesterday, airing in New York on CBS 2. So this means the DirecTV channel airing the game is blacked out. Because the Bengals and Ravens game went down to the wire, we were forced to miss the first two drives of the game. I get blacking out the DirecTV feed for the local teams because local TV stays with every snap of those games. But folks pay far too much money for the NFL and DirecTV to force us to miss full drives of our favorite teams. If ALL the local networks aren’t on the national game yet, you MUST free up the DirecTV channel until they are.
  • The Bears are 7-3 and a serious case can be made for them being the second best team in football when the QB is healthy. Lovie says he expects Cutler back before the end of the regular season. I may be crazy but I think he’ll play Christmas night in Green Bay. The Bears need to grind out victories now and put themselves in the postseason. It seems Jay Cutler’s toughness is so often the talking point around Halas Hall. Now the toughness of the other fifty-two men on the roster is the story.