Good morning! Some longer points today, so let’s jump right in.
- The Cutler story broke yesterday afternoon while I was at my day job, and I didn’t have a chance to write about it until now. And the more I think about it, I’m not sure there’s much to write; Trestman has been fairly consistent that when Cutler was healthy he’d be starting. But I can see how people might have thought things changed after Josh McCown’s very good performance Monday night, even though I tried to outline a few reasons why that’d be a dangerous conclusion to draw in a post yesterday afternoon. Anyway, we’ll officially know later, as Trestman said during his press conference (video of which can be seen here) that he’d be naming the starter following today’s practice. And I’ll have a quick post on that this afternoon, whenever that might happen. In the meantime, there are a few other Bears related things to get to, including a familiar voice chiming in on the Cutler/McCown debate. If you want some context on yesterday’s announcement, the Tribune’s Rich Campbell has you covered, as does ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright.
- That voice belongs to Brian Urlacher, who needs no introduction from me. Urlacher was appearing on Fox Football Daily, and ESPN’ Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson had a nice rundown. The money quote, though, was this:
“It’s going to be awfully hard to take Josh out of there right now the way he’s playing,” Urlacher said. “In my opinion, [McCown] should be the guy. He should be the starting quarterback of the Bears, even if Jay Cutler is healthy. You can’t take a guy who’s this hot out of the football game. If I was on that team, I would have a hard time with them taking him out.”
Urlacher and Cutler have had a complicated relationship, from beginning to end. In the middle, Urlacher was one of the most vocal supporters of Cutler following the NFC Championship loss to Green Bay, but I think it’s safe to say that Urlacher is not exactly stepping back and looking at this as a neutral observer. Of course, the most ironic thing is that if I were to pick a player who would be most likely to ignore these statements from Urlacher, it would be…Brian Urlacher.
All the way back in December of 2012, he had this to say about the fans and the media (of which he’s now very clearly a part):
“Two of the people I don’t care about, fans or the media,” Urlacher said. “They can say what they want to about our head coach, about our players. It does bother me because those people don’t know what they’re talking about, obviously. I know there are a bunch of experts in the media, and there are a bunch of smart guys out there who know exactly what they’re talking about all the time. But they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
I loved Brian as a player, but I don’t assign much value to his commentary on the Bears quarterback situation. If Khaseeme Greene was playing lights-out at linebacker, and Lance Briggs was ready to return, do you think he’d have the same “play the hot hand” philosophy?
- Another day, another Jay Cutler contract rumor, this one courtesy of The National Football Post’s Jason Cole. It reads to me more as a leverage-ploy leak than anything else, despite the attention-getting headline. (Seriously, “Bears Likely to Let Cutler Walk in Offseason” means something very different when you separate “Unless quarterback is willing to take a team-friendly deal” from the headline.) Cole does say that according to a source, the Bears believe in Trestman’s system, and feel that Cutler would not be irreplaceable within said system. I’m sure that’s true, and I understand not wanting to overpay at one position to the possible detriment of your overall salary cap situation. But it’s more complex than that. I’m still thinking about it, and I’ll be addressing it at some point in the near future, but as to this specific story, I’m not sure there’s anything to it yet.
- Though the Bears are optimistic that Cutler could return this weekend, things aren’t as promising for Lance Briggs, who has not yet been cleared. If things do fall the Bears way and they make the postseason, a healthy Lance Briggs would make me feel a lot better about their chances to be competitive. But sadly, there are still some very big ifs involved there.
- This weekend’s NFL television coverage maps are out at The 506. The Chicago market will get the Bears in the early window (as will much of the midwest) and then both the Jets @ Carolina and Green Bay @ Dallas late. Truthfully, this weekend’s slate looks a bit underwhelming, but sometimes those are the weekends that lead to a lot of unexpectedly exciting games. (Of course, sometimes it’s just really boring.) The Ravens visit Detroit on Monday Night Football, if you were wondering.
- I can’t believe I forgot to mention this until now, but Monday Night was a very key victory in my fight to eradicate “Alshon Jeffries” from the minds of America’s broadcasters. Jon Gruden said it the first time Alshon came up, and I assumed I was in for a long night. But Mike Tirico said it correctly (and somewhat forcefully, as if it was a hint to Gruden) immediately after, and by my count neither said “Jeffries” for the rest of the game. Relatedly, the news yesterday that the Bears would be flexed to NBC’s Sunday Night Football in Week 16 gave me some mixed emotions in terms of broadcaster preferences; on the one hand, it means that Thom Brennaman will NOT, in fact, be doing two consecutive Chicago games. That’s a win, in my book (although I’m dreading a potential Cutler return with Thom in the booth; I’ll set the over/under on “Can’t believe they could sit a guy like McCown with the way he’s played” lines from him at 72.) But on the other hand, Cris Collinsworth was one of the worst “Jeffries” offenders when the Bears played the Steelers in Week 3 on NBC. Hopefully that doesn’t happen again.