Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010
By John Mullin
The Bears dont have the NFLs permission yet to start printing playoff tickets. They really dont have permission to start talking about playoffs, although thats going to happen anyway. Sometimes the talk is going to go beyond just making the playoffs.
As far as being good enough to win the Super Bowl, quarterback Jay Cutler gave a frank opinion. I think so, he said. Of course, he added, Youve got to believe that or theres no use playing right now.
Cutler has not been to the playoffs, or even had a winning season in his NFL career for that matter. So his sense of what a championship team at this level really looks like can be considered somewhat limited.
But Israel Idonije was on the 2006 team, which was dramatically different in many ways from this edition, but that same kind of energy, you kind of feel it around here, he said. Guys are excited, working hard, and theres a lot of rumbling throughout the city. It feels good.
We want to end up in Dallas this year, and just to get there is not enough. Weve been there. Weve got to get the ring.
The one individual most responsible for both getting them to think like a Super Bowl team without talking now about the Super Bowl is not concerned about a loss of focus and with that a loss to the Detroit Lions.
We wont look too far ahead, Lovie Smith said. You have to have long-term goals. When you start the season, we have three goals for our program and that last goal is to win the Super Bowl. So thats there. You cant run from it and we dont want them to run from it.
But you dont talk about that now. Theres no time to talk about that now. That wont change with our guys and Id be surprised if you heard anything else except for that. The guys know whats at stake.
The Bears were without linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee) practicing Wednesday and receiver Rashied Davis was limited with a sore shoulder. The Detroit Lions were not nearly so healthy.
Quarterbacks Matthew Stafford (shoulder) and Shaun Hill (finger) were joined on the DNP list by defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch (neck) and kicker Jason Hanson (knee). Four other starters were limited in practice: running back Jahvid Best (toe), receiver Nate Burleson (hamstring), linebacker DeAndre Levy (groin), tight end Tony Scheffler (rib).
The performances that were instrumental in the Bears being 4-0 in November have been noticed, and rewarded.
Defensive end Julius Peppers was named NFC defensive player of the month for November after recording 4 sacks, tied for second in the NFL. His 29 yards in losses off those sacks were tops in the NFC and tied for fourth in the NFL. Peppers added 13 tackles, deflected a pass that led to an interception and recorded 2 additional tackles for losses during the month.
The Bears defense held opponents to just 65 rushing yards in the month of November (lowest in the NFL) and held opponent quarterbacks to a 69.5 passer rating during the month (lowest in the NFL).
This is Peppers third NFC Defensive Player of the Month award (Nov. 2004, Oct. 2006). Peppers is the first Bears player to win the award since Trace Armstrong in Sept.1990 and the third overall since the award first started in 1986 (Wilber Marshall, Dec. 1986).
Quarterback Jay Cutler was named NFC offensive player of the Week after completing 14 of 21 passing attempts for 247 yards and four touchdowns en route to a career-high 146.2 passer rating in the Bears 31-26 victory over the Eagles. The four touchdown passes tied a career high for Cutler, who now has three such games as a member of the Bears, tied for second most in franchise history.
When you have a game like Philadelphia, you deserve to get an award like, as does Julius Peppers, Lovie Smith said. When you play the way he has this past month, were really pleased with the progress theyre making along with the team right now.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.