Major thanks to Brett for stepping in for me yesterday afternoon; my fiancée was in a car accident on Wednesday night, the aftermath of which has sort of taken over my activities for the past 24 hours. She’s fine, physically, but the car is basically a loss; another driver ran a red light and hit her. Meaning I was essentially a chauffeur yesterday, which I was happy to do, considering it could have been worse. So thank you for your patience.
- As Brett’s post noted, and as was expected, the Bears have named Jay Cutler the starter for Sunday’s game at Cleveland. I have a much longer post coming later today on the topic (it also addresses my views on what the Bears should do this offseason with regards to the quarterback position) so I’ll keep my own analysis short on these points. But if you want to know what people around the league think of Cutler, this NFL.com piece from Adam Schein is informative on the topic. (You also get some Cutler practice footage in video form, if that interests you.) Schein reached out to some front office sources, and came back with these quotes:
“When I asked one general manager this week about the Bears letting Cutler go, he said, ‘Hell no! He’s a top-10 quarterback. You can’t let that guy walk. They are talking like they might move on, but how could they?’ Another personnel director simply said, ‘Don’t write the ‘Sign Cutler’ piece. We’d love him!'”
Schein goes on to note that he’s talked to personnel evaluators who feel that the upcoming QB draft class is perhaps an overrated one. Not to spoil my upcoming post, but it covers some of the same ground; I’m not of the mind that what Cutler can bring is easily replaced, McCown’s short burst of success notwithstanding.
- A fun little note that we learned on Thursday from Trestman’s press conference (as relayed by Adam Jahns, among others): when Trestman called Cutler on Wednesday to see how he was feeling following his test workout, Cutler and McCown were together going over the game plan.
- One thing about Cutler starting this weekend that I’m already dreading: the fact that unless he plays perfect football, there’s going to be yet another giant media hullabaloo. This annoys me because had the Bears started McCown and HE played poorly, the same hullabaloo would have ensued. (Who knew I’d enjoy using “hullabaloo” so much?) I want the Bears to win, first and foremost, but if a byproduct of their winning is that I don’t have to listen to any more manufactured controversy, I’d be more than okay with that.
- Good news: Lance Briggs returned to practice for the first time since he fractured his shoulder against Washington. Bad news: he was limited in practice, and he won’t be able to play this weekend. Still, I think this is more good news than bad; for awhile, I had my doubts that he would return at all this season. If the Bears do keep their playoff hopes alive, the return of Briggs and his instincts, fundamentals, and intelligence would be a very welcome sight.
- Advanced NFL Stats provides win probabilities for NFL games to the New York Times, and you can find this weekend’s edition here. Their projections show the Bears as having a 46% chance of winning. Stupid advanced stats, what with their “science” and “numbers.” Obviously they forgot to factor in the residual effect of the team having been around Coach Ditka on Monday.
- Matt Bowen checks in with his weekly film breakdown from around the league. It includes a look at a zone blitz from the Bears on Monday night (which I recognized as it happened; Mel Tucker seems to be a bit more exotic with his pressure looks than the Bears were under Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli) as well as a look at a big play from Cleveland’s Josh Gordon. I’m already having Josh Gordon-induced stress. He’s been very good. Bowen breaks him down further and compares what Gordon might look to do against the Bears scheme to what fellow breakout receiver Alshon Jeffery could look to do against Cleveland.
- It’s looking like there might be a few more snow games this weekend as another winter storm system moves across the country; this time, the Bears might be caught in one, although it’s hard to predict as of now. At the very least it will be cold in Cleveland. Yet another obstacle for Cutler’s return, but I choose to look at it as another opportunity for an impressive display. Also, as we saw last weekend, snow games can be fun. (Although this one won’t feature the potential for a Lions collapse, which limits the fun quotient.)
That’s all for me this morning; stay tuned for my semi-long read coming this afternoon.