Bears backup QB Hanie has Cutler's back

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Bears backup QB Hanie has Cutler's back

Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011
10:32 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Caleb Hanie spent the week leading up to the Green Bay game playing the role of Aaron Rodgers, running the scout team as he has since the mid-season off week.

He was in the role of defense attorney on Tuesday for Jay Cutler and he played it very, very well. Not that Cutler needs it, but his backup has his back.

In a phone interview on The Dan Patrick Show Hanie disputed any notion that Patrick himself had been pounding all morning, that Cutler wasnt involved enough after being taken out of the game. One TV shot showed Cutler sitting on the bench, in his Bears cape, uninterested and uninvolved.

No, that wasnt the case, Hanie said. Ive seen the shot on TV but that was just one five-second clip. He talked to me a lot coming off the field to calm me down, told me to trust my line, trust my reads and just go play and use your feet if you have to.

Didinger: Cutler doesn't deserve all the criticism

He did a great job doing that for me. I thought he was well into the game. I asked him a question at one point on the cards or pictures and he gave his input, told me the blitzes they were bringing and coverages they were running.

As far as Cutler not being right next to Hanie all the time, I think he was just trying to give me time when we were sitting on the bench, time to digest everything, then talk to me after, Hanie said.

Hanie was direct on one hypothetical: Had the Bears won the game, Cutler would have played in the Super Bowl, he said.

And as far as the NFC Championship, If he couldve played, he wouldve played, Hanie said. I was surprised because hes been getting hit all season but never seems to get hurt... Hes one of the toughest guys on our team...

One thing I know about him: Hes going to sell out for his teammates, no matter what. He cares about his teammates more than anyone else out there. If he could have played effectively, he would have been in there for sure.

Hes not a quitter. The kind of stuff other players via Twitter and elsewhere were saying, thats what aggravates the guys in our locker room. Because we know hes not a quitter.

Identity crises

Hanie wasnt sure the Packers knew his name when he came into the game. They probably didnt, he said. They were telling me I played good afterwards. They were good about that.

READ: Cutler vs. the Media - Day 2

What some people couldnt understand was how Hanie didnt see B.J. Raji before he threw a pass directly to the massive nose tackle. Someone was saying, How did you not see the guy? Hes 400 pounds. I said, Well, hes hiding behind the other 400-pound guy.

Youre kidding, right?

Patrick said hed rather have seen Cutler at least standing up on the sidelines rather than sitting on the bench. Just guessing here, but would the knock then have been that the guy was OK enough to stand, so...

This was all kind of interesting, and not restricted to Dan Patrick by any means. It has the feel that now that it is clear that Cutler has a knee injury, a torn ligament, some people need to do some fast face-saving or CYAing. Rather than acknowledge that Cutler bashing over the injury was off, people are taking off now after Cutlers demeanor.

Based on the isolated snippets of TV shots showing a morose Cutler on the bench, Patrick declared, This is the biggest game of his life... Hes guilty of indifference... Thats his crime, to me.

Wow. Now not only readings in body language, but mind-reading and character analysis?

OK, so, what, now the crime has shifted to not being sufficiently or visibly crushed? And crime? Dan does need to get out more. But thats seriously, seriously stupid. And Patrick is a fellow University of Dayton alum.
Stuckmeyer: Putting 'toughness in perspective

Maybe having had the pleasure of doing Mondays Chicago Tribune Live on Comcast SportsNet with two-time Super Bowl winner Howard Griffith is an advantage here. Howard had the same injury and was blunt; no way could someone go back in an NFL game with that injury.

Somehow, though, people cant let go of the toughness crap. A caller brought up Brett Favre and how youd have to drag him off the field. Patrick mentioned that Ben Roethlisberger played with a broken nose.

You can play with a broken nose. You can win heavyweight boxing championships with a broken nose. Comparing a broken nose and a torn knee ligament? No, Dan really needs to get out more.

A voice of reason

To his credit, Tony Dungy, who faced similar situations during his time coaching the Indianapolis Colts, even in the Super Bowl against the Bears, was blunt, but I dont think it was at all the direction Patrick was expecting.

Dungy immediately went right at critics, particularly among the ranks of players as well as people who clearly didnt know the situation at the time: I think its ridiculous... Im just really, really surprised.

DPs yeah, but was back at the appearance of indifference. But Dungy wasnt buying that either. Colts receiver Marvin Harrison was a similarly undemonstrative individual on the sidelines, which didnt bother Dungy because Harrisons play was anything but indifferent.

Dungy said it all: People like you, DP, although Dungy didnt say it are wanting Jay Cutler to act a different way than he is and basically be something they want him to be.

Well said. If youre pre-disposed to dislike someone, for whatever reason, pretty much whatever that person does will confirm the baseline feeling. Hey, no one likes admitting they were wrong.

Correcting

Dan brought up Scottie Pippen the other day when I was on the show, Pippen as an example of someone who never got past the stigma of having migraines in playoffs. Pippen was part of enough championships (as Tonto to Jordans Lone Ranger) that the migraine issue was put in the past. Terrell Davis issues with that problem helped.

What wasnt was Pippens refusal to go in the game with 1.4 sec. remaining in a playoff game vs. the Knicks, because Pippen was hearing that he wasnt the No. 1 option on the play after the timeout. That, not migraines, is the stigma that Pippen carries.

Odd

Bears safety Chris Harris wasnt voted onto the NFC Pro Bowl roster. But he, along with linebacker Brian Urlacher, was named a second-team All-Pro. Go figure.

Easier to figure the Bears first-teamers: defensive end Julius Peppers and Devin Hester (as a returner, not a receiver). The Bears and Atlanta Falcons were the only NFC teams with two players named to the team.

Definitely not-odd

Defensive end Israel Idonije is one of the three finalists, along with Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and Madieu Williams of the Minnesota Vikings, for the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. The winner will be announced prior to the Super Bowl on Feb. 6.

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.

Bears establishing smash-mouth core with Jordan Howard

Bears establishing smash-mouth core with Jordan Howard

Eric Kush was in some pain after the Bears win over the San Francisco 49ers. But it was a “good” pain, particularly since part of it was inflicted by a teammate.

The teammate was running back Jordan Howard, and the Bears left guard was learning along with his linemates that when Howard is coming, “he’s a-comin’,” Kush said.

“Oh man, sometimes you’re, ‘[groan-groan-groan], and he’ll hit you right in the back, you fall and try to take your guy down with you and stick him in the snow so you’re not the only one getting soaking wet and cold. But Jordan’s a lot fun and we try to kick some butt for him.”

The rookie running back has become more than simply a draft nugget from the fifth round of this year’s draft. Howard has established himself as an integral part of a winning formula of complimentary football, the concept long favored by John Fox, Lovie Smith and coaches who operate from the foundation of a premier running game, impact defense and solid special teams.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The Bears’ three wins have come this season in the only games in which Howard has been given 20-plus carries: 23 vs. Detroit, 26 vs. Minnesota, 32 vs. San Francisco. Add to those the 3 pass receptions against the Lions and the 4 against the Vikings and the true centerpiece of the 2016 Bears offense is more than a little apparent.

For obvious reasons beyond simply the rushing numbers.

“Especially pass protection,” said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “I think he's taken a big jump that way. When you're young in this league, those are the things that can get grey for you. You run the football, he's obviously a talented player there, but in pass pro, he's made his biggest growth.”

As a corollary to Howard, San Francisco was only the second game this season in which the Bears called fewer than 30 pass plays (the only other time was at Green Bay, when the Bears only ran a total of 45 plays, 27 of them pass plays). In that respect, the snow was viewed as an ally by some in the locker room who have been unhappy at the run:pass balance, which was just 36-percent-run coming into the 49ers game.

“It was one of these games where, with the weather, we couldn’t pass the ball like we normally do —  30 times — so we had to keep it on the ground,” said one member of the offense.

Howard’s breakout game as an NFL ball carrier came against the Lions (23 carries, 111 rushing yards, 3 receptions). The Bears, looking for a breakout of their own in the form of a first two-game win streak in more than a year, are expected to keep it simple — and in Howard’s hands.

“I always expected a lot out of myself,” Howard said. “I didn’t really think that things would happen maybe this soon or this fast. I’m definitely grateful for it.”

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

Bears looking into Teryl Austin’s past for clues on how Lions will scheme vs. Matt Barkley

The adage “play the man, not the board” seems somehow appropriate for what the Bears are doing to prepare for the Detroit Lions behind quarterback Matt Barkley.

“The man” is Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, and the Bears have been scouting him as well as his defenses, beyond just Bears games, beyond this season and last, taking in his 2014 Detroit season when Austin prepared defenses for Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen.

How did Austin scheme for rookie Carson Wentz when the Lions played (and beat) the Philadelphia Eagles? How did he structure is defense to stop a rookie Teddy Bridgewater when Detroit played Minnesota? (Not very well, apparently, since the Vikings won both games and scored 54 points combined in the two games).

While the John Fox Bears staff went against Austin’s Lions defense twice last year, Cutler was the Bears quarterback. When the Bears beat Austin and the Lions two months ago, it was with Brian Hoyer.

Now the Bears quarterback is Matt Barkley, who has fewer NFL games played (seven) than Cutler has NFL seasons (11), Hoyer (eight), too, for that matter.

“Different defensive coordinators attack young quarterbacks differently,” said offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “Some guys blitz, some guys play a bunch of zone. This group on defense there, they have a really good defensive coordinator, they're really smart, they do a bunch of stuff. On the back end, they run all the coverages.

“As a game, we'll have to make adjustments as the game goes and see what their plan to come out is early.”

Coaches and players may talk about how they prepare for a scheme irrespective of which opposing quarterback, running back, linebacker or whatever they will be facing. But in fact, preparations start with who is orchestrating the opponent’s offense or defense – play the man, not the board.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

A risk can be out-thinking yourself trying to anticipate what a coordinator will do. The first point, Loggains said, is to start with your own strengths.

“We definitely look at that,” Loggains said. “As you go in the league long and longer, you face these guys, you see them in crossover games. We always know how a guy attacks a rookie quarterback or attacks a young quarterback, a veteran, or, in Matt's case, a guy who hasn't played as much.”

Evaluations of Barkley’s performance will broaden, particularly now that he is on tape for defensive coordinators to scheme for and scout. And while they are watching Barkley, the Bears are watching them.