Posts Tagged ‘Jay Cutler’

Courtesy Tom Mleko

The beautiful thing about sports, about living in a city drenched in sports teams, engulfed in sports history is the ongoing cycle of teams to root for and follow. The Sox’ unexpectedly hopeful season just ended, the Cubs lost 100+ games (for the first time in 50 years, believe it or not), the impending strike may shorten/eliminate the Blackhawks’ season, the Bulls’ hopes rest on an ACL of the best point guard in the NBA, but da Bears? Da Bears are 3-1 and atop the NFC North. The cycle continues, and this leg of the cycle looks like a winner.

Da Bears look like serious contenders. Outside of an embarrassing loss at Lambeau, da Bears have looked like the best team in the NFC not representing the Bay Area. The defense is up to its usual tricks: forcing turnovers, scoring points (read: plural), and wreaking havoc on opposing defensive coordinators thus far (read: thus far). After the thorough thrashing of Rob Ryan and the Cowboys, we and the rest of the nation were reminded just how good this defense still is. Brian Urlacher is still the anchor of the D, the same way Jay Cutler anchors the other side of the ball. Both guys want one thing: to be competitive and win football games.

It’s no wonder than that after the aforementioned ass-kicking Dallas and the rest of Cowboy nation received Monday night, we were wondering about the psychological makeup of both stars, albeit in very contrasting ways. Through all the revelations we received Monday night, all the answers, we were still left with a few questions. We want to know why Cutler had a tiff with Offensive Coordinator Mike Tice, and we want to know how mentally tough Urlacher will prove this year, battling his obviously hankering knee(s?) injury.

Cutler’s magnetism begs us to talk about him, to write about him and his will to win. In this city, a city built on big shoulders, historical defense, and legendary running backs, we don’t know of this passing game you speak of. This is still so new to us. Cutler brings something we’ve never seen before his arrival. Does he know that? I don’t know. What I do know is that with the addition of Brandon Marshall this year and Cutler evolving into the quarterback and man he is capable of, da Bears have become…gulp…a passing team? This is dangerous on many levels.

Mike Tice calls the plays. Jay Cutler executes said plays. Bottom line. Was there a blowup between the two on the sideline after a failed 3rd and 1? That depends on how you define blowup. Was Cutler pissed that they turned the ball over to the punting unit? Obviously. I would be more concerned if there were no blowup at all. We criticize Jay when he seems complacent, and we criticize Jay when he shows emotion. Come on. You can’t have it both ways. I love the competitive fire, the spirit of “We may be up big on the scoreboard right now, but I want to shove it down their throat, I want to put this game away, leaving no doubt who wins.” The coverage of Cutler walking away from Tice on the sideline is a non-issue. Cutler is the leader of this team, but he has to mature and converse with the coaching staff every now and then, doesn’t he? That’s part of leading by example, beyond throwing touchdowns to Marshall and Devin Hester en route to victory and spreading the ball around to increasing targets. If we are to become a passing team (read: if), Cutler needs to maximize his potential, which will include heavy doses of competitive flames. The offensive line is starting to gel, evident in preventing Dallas’ up-to-this-point-lauded defense from having any effect on the game. He’s got plenty of targets (Hey there, Kellen Davis! Didn’t see you come in), Forte will get healthy, and Tice will learn where to pick his battles. Yes, that is part of Tice’s job description I’m sure. Know your personnel. But no one wants to talk about Mike Tice. Mike Tice is not going to sell papers, make you tune into the post-game show. I know my personnel…

Da Bears’ defensive personnel, on the other hand, could not have excited football fans any more than they did Monday night with their play. They picked off overrated Dallas Quarterback Tony Romo 5 times, scoring touchdowns on two of them. Components of the defensive core for years, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman picked 6 once apiece, up and comer and potential Pro Bowler Major Wright intercepted twice, and D.J. Moore took one away late in the 4th quarter. Everyone on the defensive side got involved. Everyone that is, except for Urlacher. His own brand of competitive fire is still ignited, but I’m not sure Urlacher the of yesteryear is still in the house. He didn’t look like the Urlacher I know and love Monday night, but I know he’ll still have his moments, his flashes of brilliance. The defense, even without him contributing on a regular basis, will continue to dominate, but we miss you, big fella. Get well soon?

In the meantime, the rest of your personnel on both sides of the ball will handle business. Just ask Dallas.

Next stop: Jacksonville.

I can’t remember the specific game, I never thought I would have to commit it to memory, but I was watching a Bears game with two of my brothers last season. It was before Cutler went down but that’s all I remember about the game. All except one thing. Every time Forte was given the ball, no matter how well he did, one of my brothers would jump up from his seat and yell, “PAY THAT MAN!” I didn’t realize at the time that the phrase would become the DE-facto mantra of uninformed Bears fans.

Speaking of stupid custom jerseys...

I don’t like thinking about football when the baseball season has just begun. I’m also not a big fan of long, dragged out, over dramatic crap. It should then come as no surprise that talking about Matt Forte and his continued cry-ass-ery with the Chicago Bears wasn’t on my list of shit-that-needs-a-doin. But the fact that I can’t go a day without hearing some Cro Magnon spouting off, “pay that man,” has forced my hand. It’s easy to see how he has contributed to the team since he was drafted in 2008. He is clearly one of the top ten running backs in the NFL right now. Forte has consistently produced, season after season, and proven he is a valuable asset that is well worth a dramatic increase from his rookie pay. He’s also a selfish dolt that doesn’t know when to shut his mouth and be a professional. In any other career, the chances of him getting a raise acting the way he does would be well within the zero range, but since he happens to be good at football people think he deserves more money.

There’s a problem with that idea. Football may be a sport, (That is a fact. You can look it up. I did!) but the NFL is a business. It’s a big business. It’s a fucking colossal business. Why does that matter? It makes Matt Forte an employee. Matt Forte doesn’t play for the Chicago Bears, he works for them. He has a supervisor and coworkers. He gets a regular paycheck and benefits. He gets vacation time. (Tons of it!) His job is to show up and play fucking football a few months out of the year. Somewhere along the way Forte, and many Bears fans, lost sight of this.

I know that professional football is still pretty damn far removed from your run of the mill career. There is a definite skill set needed to compete. The players don’t last as long. In fact, they get the shit kicked right out of them so they get compensated accordingly. Since most rookies don’t make much money when it comes to sports salaries, and many players don’t have anything to fall back on if their football career doesn’t pan out, they are anxious to grab that guaranteed contract money as soon as they’re eligible. I understand and I would more than likely have the same mindset if I was in their shoes. The problem is, Matt Forte turned down that money last season. Most reports estimated the contract extension he was offered in 2011 to include at least $14 million in guaranteed pay. I’m no genius, but Forte, wasn’t that the contract you were supposed to sign? Especially knowing that the Bears had the option to franchise tag you FOR LESS MONEY if you turned it down? C’mon! Who’s really getting screwed here? Forte or the Bears’ PR department? The Bears gave Forte an offer that, while not generous, was pretty fair considering the market value of a running back in a sport that is fast moving away from the running game. Forte turned it down. End of story?

Unfortunately no.

Forte went into the off-season thinking that his performance would earn him a better contract. I’ll be the first to admit he had a great season, but if it was up to me, I’d have slapped him with the franchise tag too. Especially after he turned down a decent deal. I don’t know if it’s Forte’s overblown sense of pride or his agent’s overblown sense of greed but one of them needs to have the shit slapped out of them. Everyone else saw the franchise tag coming. Forte just refused to look. So now he’s all disappointed with the organization and feels betrayed because they signed a back up running back. Face it Matt, you play a position that is decreasing in value as we speak, for a team that is trying to build a passing game that doesn’t include much of you, in a league that has a salary cap. How much are you really worth?

The chances of this happening again are pretty high.

None of that is even mentioning the lifespan of a running back in the current NFL. How many seasons does he really have to be an impact player? Five, six, maybe seven? This upcoming season will be his fifth year in the league and he’s already sprained his MCL. Would you offer a five year contract to a player who might only last one more year? Would you then guarantee that player $14 million? I very much doubt it. I hear you union guys in the back yelling, “But that’s wrong! He’s already earned the money by playing so good!” Well he’s also been a grade “A” ass-hat about the whole thing. Nobody wants to work next to, let alone pay, somebody who bitches about everything. The fact that he has played well during his four years with the team means nothing when you get down to the business of it. There’s a whole team to support and fans to appease. If paying Forte less money was better for the team, which is definitely the case, shouldn’t fans be happy that the Bears are trying to get a good deal? If the money they saved by slapping the franchise tag on him got used to fix that Swiss cheese of an offensive line, shouldn’t the fans be ecstatic? Oh yeah, that’s happening. If that money got used to bring in a high caliber wide receiver for Cutler, shouldn’t fans be praising the man-gods that decided to franchise tag Matt Forte? Oh wait, that happened too. So why are fans so quick to defend Forte and down the team that made a proper business decision in the interest of building a better franchise? I forgot. This is Chicago. An emotional attachment to our players is more important than having a winning team. By the way, Forte got paid a bit under $700,000 for the 2011 season. Should he choose to play with the franchise tag, he will be guaranteed around $8 million. For a single season. That’s almost twelve times what he was being paid last season. It’s a raise of over 1000%. Think about that the next time you see your extra 2.3% yearly increase.

Recently, Forte went to the twitter-verse with this. “There’s only so many times a man that has done everything he’s been asked to do can be disrespected!” There’s one thing he hasn’t done that many fans, sports media types, and I’m sure the Bears have asked him to do. Matt Forte needs to grow up and learn to play ball in the NFL.

Email: virtualsportsman@gmail.com

Twitter @virtuallymatt

As I write this, the 2 AM breeze hits me with ease (yes, the windows are open in March. Yes, it is glorious), and I continue my mini Woody Allen binge with another half-hearted attempt to take in Manhattan. It’s a good enough movie, but Woody himself even said it was his least favorite of those he’s made. In other news, the Bulls set a franchise regular season record earlier tonight for points allowed by holding D’s Nuts (my new, failed(?) nickname for Dwight Howard) and the Orlando Magic to an embarrassing 59 points. That’s what happens when you have every member of your team ready to play every night. Thanks Thibs.

You're welcome.

All Bulls euphoria, Woody Allen rambling, and summer in March hysteria aside, the sands of the NFL hourglass have shifted. Time has caught up with the city of Denver. It has bitten the asses of San Francisco and Tennessee. Yes, Peyton Manning will take snaps for the Denver Broncos next year, and the time-challenged task of replacing legendary #7 has ended. No matter how nice the Bay Area weather may be at times, real deal free agents don’t base their decisions on such things. The players who matter go where they think they have the BEST CHANCE TO WIN. Look at Mario Williams. He could’ve signed with Da Bears, won a few ball games, maybe contended for a title or two. Nope, he took an extra ten million or so to sign with the Buffalo fucking Bills. Not a player who matters. Good riddance. As you may sense from this somewhat bitter sages tone, we good sports fans of Chicago have been burned by high profile free agents in seemingly every major professional sport since free agency became a thing. I won’t bore you with the list of free agents who chose to sign elsewhere over the years, but it’s long and odd that none of them would have liked to live here in Chicago. I like to think we have a great culture here, not only sports culture, but culture in general. Why wouldn’t someone want to sign here? Is it really the shitty, unpredictable weather? If you’re not used to it, maybe it’s a little overbearing. But if you’re from here, the weather shifts are a thing of beauty to be appreciated and celebrated. The extreme cold builds character and toughness, and the hot summers (and springs now, apparently) are our reward for bundling up the rest of the year. No reward in the sports free agent signing world though.

Are the expectations different here the way they’ve been for Denver quarterbacks since the turn of the century?
The timing for the departures of legends like Jordan and Elway lend themselves to a comparison of sorts. Denver hasn’t had a legitimite quarterback since then, and we’ve had so many unGodly horrible shooting guards grace us with their absence since the premature dismantling of our beloved dynasty. The difference seems to be that we have the good sense not to expect anone to ever even come close to accomplishing what Jordan accomplished…ever. It’s an exercise in futility. But for whatever reason, Denver quarterbacks and their fans have been repeating the third grade for the better part of fifteen years. Now they have one of the greatest to ever throw the ball leading their team. His reads are unbelievable. His command of the offense is unparalleled. His football IQ is a mile high. His name is Peyton Manning, and he is a Denver Bronco. Appreciate it, football fans of Denver.
Here in Chicago, we know a thing or two about filling the shoes of a legend. Chicago shooting guard will never ever…ever (ever) be as it once was when #23 graced the hardwood, not even close. We know this. The quarterback position holds a similar standard in Denver since Sir Elway left town (only to return in full decision making mode in their front office). Jay Cutler came to Chicago partly because he couldn’t fulfill the snap-taking expectations in the Mile High City. Tim Tebow (yes, he does have a first name) never had the backing of the Broncos brass. Jake Plummer had a couple above-average seasons, but since Elway won back to back titles and saluted his way out of the NFL, Denver had yearned for an MVP under center. They got him. 

Peyton Manning is an MVP in every imaginable sense: on the field, off the field, in the film room, on TV, whatever the challenge may be, #18 will beat it. He made Marvin Harrison Marvin Harrison. Same goes for Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and every Peyton-made Pro Bowler who played for the Colts. He’ll more than likely do the same for the young core of receivers in Denver. Just go ahead and pencil them in for an AFC West title and a trip to New England for the AFC Championship where the Brady vs. Manning rivalry will resume.
Tebowmania will rightfully relocate to the Arena League next year. 
[audio http://awmr01.podbean.com/mf/web/pxh9vn/Episode009.mp3]

 

In this episode we absolutely hate on Skullsplitter, talk some Cubs, some Starlin Castro, switch out to PBR, sent a shot across the bow at another show, curb our expectations for the 2012 Cubs season, talk Cubs prospects, lament the Cubs starting rotation, we time travel a little bit, we talk about the Blackhawks recent streaks,  we try to figure out which Chicago coach gets fired next, we discuss what John Starks is up to now in honor of Linsanity, we remember Slam Ball, we have an impromptu Celebrity Basketball draft,  Andy finally starts reading Moneyball, Andy and Raul think the Sox will suck this year, and we do a top ten most misunderstood athletes.

In this episode of Chicago, A Drinking Town With A Sports Problem’s podcast, producer Raul Parra joins Moe Rubio and Andy Welebir in the asylum as they discuss the Jay Cutler injury, a special guest pipes in on Mike McQueary, the Bandwagon fan debate, we answer some fan questions, Justin Verlander as the MVP, some other baseball awards, the 4-3 vs. the 3-4, Moe busts out some classic baseball seasons, they gloss over the Dale Sveum coaching hire, and Raul Parra tells the saddest baseball story ever.

If I recall the coaching search that followed a listless Dick Jauron season correctly, the Bears were rumored to be going after two romantic names in the coaching bloodstream, Romeo Crennel and Lovie Smith.

I remember having a small feeling of disappointment as I felt the Bill Belicheck coaching tree would produce some good talent.

This is why I’m a football moron sometimes. Especially back then when I believed in the whole run the ball and blitz mentality.

Lovie Smith endeared him to Chicago football fans by stating that beating Green Bay was a season goal. Proving that football love is absolutely fleeting, it seems that most Bears fans are so completely tired of Lovie Smith that they will find any reason to show his incompetence.

Bears fans want Smith gone, and for awhile I was one of them. I was tired of the unemotional coach that is such a stark contrast to Chicago coaching’s patron saint, Ditka.

5 years after a Super Bowl appearance Smith has a chance to prove that he belongs in the pantheon of great football coaches, and he’s going to have to do it with an aging defense and back up quarterback, Caleb Hanie.

The Bears have lost their starting QB, Jay Cutler. He’s an oft maligned player who despite getting up from brutal hits and violent collisions frequently has his toughness questioned. Stupidly.

His broken thumb will keep him sidelined for a significant amount of time. It’s legitimate, please don’t question this.

And that leaves Lovie Smith with a young quarterback with questionable talent throwing to a pack of sub-par receivers. This all sounds so familiar.

While the Bears do sit pretty at 7-3, they are still chasing the Detroit Lions and will likely need at least 3 wins to sneak into the playoffs. It’s more than likely that 4 wins will be needed.

If Lovie Smith finishes this season with 11 wins, there can be little doubt that he belongs in the conversation of great coaches in the modern day. Consider what he has already done without having the benefit of a franchise quarterback. He has navigated his teams to multiple division championships, he’s been to two NFC championship games, and he’s made it to a Super Bowl. All of this is with having Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton as his quarterbacks for the bulk of the time.

Given that the Bears have a somewhat soft schedule heading down the stretch and that inexplicably opposing punters keep testing Devin Hester, it’s not out of the question that the Bears manage to win 3 or even 4 games.

If that happens, you meatballs are in trouble.