If you’ve somehow missed it until now, both Jay Cutler and Lance Briggs were ruled out of Monday night’s game with the Cowboys.
Programming note: I’m working today and occupied this evening, so I might be a bit light on Twitter replies/blog posts. But if something breaks I’ll do my best to cover it. I’d also like to go ahead and point out that it’s very cold here now, and I hate it. I used to prefer winter to summer, and if I had to pick one day with a below-zero windchill or one day at 100 degrees with humidity, I’d still pick the cold day. But I am not looking forward to an entire season of this. (I just complained about the weather. I’m officially old.)
- Sports Illustrated’s Peter King was embedded with referee Gene Steratore’s officiating crew for the week leading up to the Bears-Ravens game on November 17th, and today will mark the release of the conclusion to a sprawling three-part story. The level of access provided and the level of detail King offers shed so much light on just how difficult a job it must be. Part one focused mainly on Steratore himself (I’ve always found he and his crew to be competent and consistent) and the process by which NFL officials are graded on their performance. Part two dove into the lives of the people who make up the crew; NFL officials normally have full-time jobs, and it’s fun to follow some of the more anonymous faces of the league in their daily lives. Particularly interesting (and touching) is the section on back judge Dino Paganelli. Bears fans will remember him as the official who ruled Calvin Johnson failed to complete the process of the catch in the Bears/Lions opening day game in 2010. But what you probably didn’t know is that Paganelli lives in Wyoming, Michigan, and works as a high school history/PE teacher; in the story, he mentions that his students refused to talk to him for the entire day following the Calvin Johnson ruling. Paganelli is a widower with three children 14 and under, and from the glimpse we get of his history class he’s the sort of teacher everyone deserves to have. The whole report is worth a read, despite its length, but if you want to cut it down to a strictly Bears-centric item, today’s finale will include the Bears/Ravens game, and I can’t wait to read King’s coverage of that crazy one. It should be up at some point this morning at MMQB.
- ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson and Jon Greenberg combined for the weekly Four Downs column, wherein they take a look at four different pressing questions. This week’s included a look at the viability of using the franchise tag on Cutler (Dickerson thinks the two sides will come to a long-term agreement); whether the quick development of Alshon Jeffery makes Brandon Marshall expendable (both say yes, I’m not sure I’m ready to go that far); what to expect from Jeremiah Ratliff (sort of an unknown quantity); and whether DeMarco Murray will cross the 100-yard threshold against the Bears porous run defense (a definitive yes from both, and I concur.)
- There’s nothing writers love more than to produce the “Player X returns to face former team” story. But Patrick Finley of the Sun-Times puts a twist on that with a profile of first-year Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, who had been with the Cowboys for the past four years. I learned two things from that story; first, Decamillis’s father-in-law is longtime NFL coach Dan Reeves, and second, DeCamillis was severely injured in the 2009 collapse of the Cowboys practice facility, suffering multiple spinal injuries.
- Former NFL safety and Bleacher Report/Chicago Tribune contributor Matt Bowen checks in with his weekly tape breakdown. He does a wonderful job explaining X’s and O’s for those of us who haven’t played football (beyond Madden, that is) and this week he highlights both Alshon Jeffery’s ability to make plays and the defense’s lack of discipline against Adrian Peterson. (On the play he diagrams, in bullet 6, where in the world is Bostic going?) He also expects Tony Romo to have a big game on Monday, and I can’t really disagree.
- Remember what I said earlier, about how reporters love to write certain stories? This hit piece from David Moore of the Dallas Morning News counts as well. Moore’s target was new Bears defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, and though I can’t claim to know much about the situation in Dallas, having read this piece I now hope he records seven sacks. Sample: “Does a warrior allow issues with owner Jerry Jones and the team’s training staff to override a commitment to his teammates?” And later: ”An athlete’s personal agenda and emotions took precedence over the team.” So, players should always do what their told, without any right to question or be concerned about their own health, be it physically or emotionally. Apparently the NFL should be like Varsity Blues. Yikes.
- Continuing the theme, ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright has a story up in which DeCamillis, Ratliff, and Martellus Bennett compare the Cowboys to the Bears; specifically, the atmosphere surrounding the organizations. DeCamillis mentioned it was slightly more “Hollywood” in Dallas. (Jerry Jones does love the big screen. Literally and figuratively.) Ratliff agreed, and expounded by calling the Bears a “first-class organization” that is much more about football than anything else. Then Martellus Bennett said some typical Martellus Bennett things.
- Finally, the NFL released their schedule of London games for next season. The Bears aren’t on it, which is probably for the best. I tend to view the whole London experiment as a bit of a sideshow, and I don’t really see the logic in sending three games overseas. I don’t see how an overseas team will ever be viable, nor do I see a reason to send a Super Bowl to London. Obviously the driving factor is money for the league, and their forecasts must be fairly positive if they’re expanding their presence. A slight Bears connection: the Lions have to travel to play Atlanta in the second London game. It’d be a real shame if they were jet-lagged for ten weeks after they returned. Also, someone might want to warn Scotland Yard about Ndamukong Suh.