Bears Notebook: Tillman up to challenge


Bears Notebook: Tillman up to challenge

Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011
Posted: 7:00 p.m.
By John Mullin

Forgive Jay Cutler if he might have been thinking somebody was playing games with his helmet headset and pretending to be calling in plays from coordinator Mike Martz.

He had never scored more than 2 rushing touchdowns in an entire season. Yet there he was, first-ever playoff game, and Cutler is doing an impromptu Michael Vick schtick, scoring on a pair of running plays, one of them a called quarterback draw by his boss.

That turned into a 6-yard touchdown run around his left end in the second quarter. Yeah, it was called, said Cutler, who improvd a second rushing TD after Martz called a shovel pass that the Seahawks thwarted. The second one was a shovel pass and the defensive guy collapsed, so I had to go.

You know, when its there, you take it. Im not afraid to do that.

Cutler, who finished with a career-high 43 rushing yards, threw touchdown passes to tight ends Greg Olsen and Kellen Davis, making him just the second player in NFL history to have 2 passing and 2 rushing touchdowns in a postseason game. Hall of Famer Otto Graham accomplished the feat twice for the Cleveland Browns, in the 1954 and 1955 NFL Championship games.

His play Sunday put him a game away from an NFL championship game in his second Bears season.

After last year and the disappointment and the struggle we had offensively, and kind of rebuilding and getting Mike Martz in here, it has been fun, Cutler said. Its been a fun ride. Its not over yet. We still have some business to take care of.

Duly noted

Bears coaches did bring some notable changes in for the Seahawks. After the Bears were embarrassed by Mike Williams career-best 10 catches in the October meeting, in which Bears cornerbacks simply stayed on their sides, Charles Tillman was matched up on the 6-foot-5 Williams. Tillman at 6-foot-1 was a better size fit against Williams than 5-foot-9 left cornerback Tim Jennings.

Mike Williams is not a guy whos going to run by you, but hell be aggressive. Charles is very good at that so it was a good decision to match us up and let Charles play to his strength, Jennings said. Tillman broke up a third-quarter pass to Williams with such an effective break that he got two hands on the deflection. That counts as a drop among the DBs and Tillman immediately dropped and did his requisite pushups penance. ...

Wide receiver Earl Bennett was a surprise tailback in a Wildcat package in the first quarter. Bennetts third carry of the 2010 season picked up 9 yards. Bennett fared a little better than Matt Forte, whose wildcat chance ended in an interception. ...

Matt Hasselbecks TD pass to Mike Williams in the fourth quarter gave him at least one touchdown throw in 10 straight playoff games.

The weekly top of the condition of Soldier Field was a non-issue (sort of) as far as linebacker Brian Urlacher was concerned. It stinks for both teams, Urlacher said.

Sick bay

The Seahawks suffered two scary losses that few would doubt did something to the spirits of the visitors. Tight end John Carlson landed badly on a sideline pass early in the first quarter and after a long time on the ground with medical staff, was carted from the field with a head injury and did not return. ... Cornerback Marcus Trufant suffered a head injury after his head struck the knee of tight end Kellen Davis while making a tackle. Trufant also required on-field medical assistance and the cart to take him to the locker room. ...

The Bears lost free safety Chris Harris to a hip injury midway through the first half. Rookie Major Wright filled in and provided a pass deflection and 2 tackles. Expect Harris back for the NFC Championship.

Theyd have to cut my ankle -- no, my leg -- off to keep me from playing in that game, Harris said. ...

Matt Hasselbeck had his hip and thigh drained of fluid Saturday night, ESPNs Rachel Nichols reported. Interestingly, Hasselbeck was not on the Seahawks injury report, which had only Lofa Tatupu because of his recent concussion.

Boogie down

Anthony Adams led the Bears in pregame. Not warmups, dancing. The nimble nose tackle jumped in the middle of a big ring formed by the players, sprinted a hand-slapping lap and launched into a spirited dance that clearly generated a whole lot more pre-game buzz for the Bears than a collective Go team.

I call that The Fat Mans Rumble, said Adams.

John "Moon" Mullin is'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 add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

Bears add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

John Fox and the Bears have added another assistant coach.

Zack Azzanni is leaving the University of Tennessee to become the Bears' new receivers coach.

Azzanni has been with Tennessee since 2013 as a receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Prior to that, he spent time at Wisconsin, Western Kentucky, Florida, Central Michigan and six seasons at Bowling Green.

Azzanni was on Urban Meyer's coaching staff at Bowling Green in 2001-02 and also coached Pittsburgh Steelers superstar receiver Antonio Brown at Central Michigan. Under Azzanni's tutelage at CMU from 2007-09, Brown totaled 305 receptions for 3,199 yards and 22 TDs, earning a sixth-round draft selection in 2010.

Curtis Johnson spent 2016 as his first season in the role of Bears' wide receivers coach, but announced he was leaving after the Senior Bowl to take a job with the New Orleans Saints.

It's unknown if Azzanni will get a chance to coach Alshon Jeffery (who is currently a free agent) but the incoming coach will have an important job in molding young receivers like Kevin White and Cameron Meredith.

The Bears also announced the additions of assistant coaches Brandon Staley and Derius Swinton II Wednesday morning:

Staley will replace Clint Hurtt as outside linebackers coach and Swinton will be the assistant special teams coach under Jeff Rodgers.

Swinton is reprising his role he held on the Bears coaching staff in 2015 before leaving to take a promotion with the San Francisco 49ers special teams. 

Hurtt left the Bears to take a position as the defensive line coach with the Seattle Seahawks. Staley spent last season as the defensive coordinator at Division-III John Carroll University, the alma mater of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Hall of Fame coach Don Shula.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will there be any takers for Bears QB Jay Cutler?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will there be any takers for Bears QB Jay Cutler?

In the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Hub Arkush (670 The Score/Pro Football Weekly) and Brian Hedger ( join Kap on the panel.

ESPN is reporting that the Bears have begun shopping Jay Cutler. Will there be any takers? 

Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler doesn’t think he’s going anywhere. Would that be a mistake?

Miguel Montero makes his peace with Joe Maddon but was this even a big deal? Sammy Sosa says he put Chicago on the map, and compares himself to Jesus. When he will the Cubs welcome him home?

Plus, Pat Boyle drops by to talk Blackhawks and the “Roly Poly Goalie” is looking for work all because he ate a pie.

Check out the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: