I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday week and season. Today is Boxing Day in the United Kingdom, Canada, and elsewhere. I’ve always wanted Boxing Day to be a holiday devoted to discussing boxing. Could prime-era Tyson have defeated prime-era Ali? That’s a debate worthy of a holiday. Wikipedia tells me it’s the actual holiday originally functioned as the day that servants would receive Christmas gifts from the people they worked for. I assume Downton Abbey has covered this. I like my boxing day idea more.
It’s a big week for the Bears, obviously, and I have a post in the works that attempts to determine just how big a week it is for Jay Cutler, specifically. That might come today, if I have the chance to finish it. But in the meantime:
- Definitely coming today is an announcement on the status of Aaron Rodgers for Sunday’s pivotal game. Everyone’s treating this as if it’s definitively better for the Bears if Matt Flynn plays, and I’m sure that’s probably true. But Aaron Rodgers coming back with limited practice time, after missing seven games, isn’t exactly an unfavorable scenario either. He’s an extremely talented player, and more capable of succeeding in that scenario than just about any other QB in football. Yet for all the suspense involved, it’s not a case of him either being out or back 100%. I can understand why Green Bay fans want him back, and why Chicago fans don’t. He’s still Aaron Rodgers. But expecting him to come back and be MVP-caliber Aaron Rodgers would be a lot to ask. For what it’s worth, had the Packers had practice Wednesday, he would have been limited.
- That’s a better outlook than the one for Clay Matthews, who has already been ruled out of the season finale after re-injuring his thumb on Sunday. But on the bright side for Clay, he now has plenty of time to do more commercials. (Credit where it’s due: “burglar cats” does make me laugh, and I certainly like it more than any non-Super Fan Aaron Rodgers ad.)
- The absence of Matthews can only help Chicago’s pass protection. They allowed a season-high five sacks to the Eagles, and as Marc Trestman noted Jay Cutler was hit quite a bit more than that. Some of that goes back to the early deficit; the Eagles had a pretty good idea that the Bears were throwing, and that lends itself to an aggressive pass rush. We can only hope that the Bears get off to a better start this week. It would certainly be hard to have a worse opening quarter.
- Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy was also on Wednesday’s injury report as “DNP”; but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to be out for this weekend. ESPN’s Stephania Bell notes that his absence was planned, and that in spite of his aggravated ankle injury he’s likely on track to play Sunday. (If I was about to face the Bears as a running back, I’d want to play too.)
- The Bears, meanwhile, had their cleanest injury report in recent memory. The Bears had meetings on Christmas Day, but had their been a practice Lance Briggs would have participated fully. Earl Bennett was absent due to a non-injury related matter.
- An interesting name not appearing: Chris Conte, who missed some time Sunday night after his head was snapped into the turf. He later returned to the game, prompting former player and concussion-awareness advocate Chris Nowinski wondered on Twitter how many symptoms Conte had to show to be held out. He apparently passed the sideline concussion tests, but I don’t think running through a few memory exercises on an iPad truly constitutes a fail-safe medical exam. If you hit your head hard enough to be as disoriented as Conte was following that play, I think those post-contact symptoms should be the driving factor in determining whether a player should continue. I say this not as a doctor, of course. I’d just rather not see a player suffer preventable brain damage. It’s a contact sport, and players willingly enter into it. There’s an assumption of risk involved. But I was uneasy when Conte came back in Sunday night, and that had nothing to do with his level of play on the field.
- Finally, Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times brings us a nice profile of Josh McCown. In it, Josh talks about the difficulties of being away from his wife and four children; he also mentions that not playing next season is a distinct possibility, in order to spend more time with his family. The Bears wouldn’t be where they are without his performance in relief of Cutler, and there seems to be no dirt on him whatsoever. The bits about his time coaching high school football over the past few seasons are well worth the read, and the more I learn about him the happier I am that he had the chance to shine this year. It’s truly a feel-good story.