Cutler upset by injury; Bears stand behind him

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Cutler upset by injury; Bears stand behind him

Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011
Posted 3:58 p.m. Updated 11:51 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

What the Bears came out of Sundays game with the Green Bay Packers wasnt the NFC Championship. It may have been something more important, something that may be their ticket back to more of these in the seasons to come.

They spent most of this season rolling around in the lack of respect they perceived in the media and the general public. They seemed to kind of like it, actually.

Now they have a lack of respect from some of their peers. And that they kind of dont like. No seem about it.

WATCH: Lovie Smith irritated with Cutler doubters

And if the questioning by what they consider to be know-nothing civilians helped pull them together a little, then having other NFLers go on Twitter with doubts of Jay Cutlers knee injury looks like it just about has them welded together.

Maybe they should just shut up, center Olin Kreutz said. Thats just ignorance. They should turn that bad word Twitter off.

Brian Urlacher was asked what he thought about players around the league tweeting during the game that Cutler needed to man-up. Not much doubt about what he thought.

Nothing like jealous people at home watching, Urlacher sneered. Players around the league, you said, right? Yeah, I love jealous people when theyre watching our game on TV while their season is over.

WATCH: Urlacher sounds off

"Jay was hurt, I don't question his toughness. He's tough as hell. He's one of the toughest guys on our football team. He doesn't . He doesn't complain when he gets hit. He goes out there and plays his off every Sunday. He practices every single day. So, no, we don't question his toughness."

Shame on some people

The Bears have some experience when it comes to suspecting a teammates want-to in matters of pain. Cedric Benson went out of Super Bowl XLI with a knee injury that even some members of the medical staff questioned at the time.

Heres a perspective: Kreutz missed a game in 2002. For an appendectomy. He was back the following week.

In the world of the tough, they call Kreutz sir.

Kreutz suspects that Cutler may have a torn knee ligament. Kreutzs medical credentials may be open to question, but not his eyesight, and he has seen ligament injuries. So he wasnt surprised that Cutler couldnt make it.

Kreutz doesnt amaze easily. Cutler amazed him.

Kreutz wasnt surprised that Cutler was out for the game, not when I saw his knee shaking like that, Kreutz said, shaking his hand rapidly back and forth., I didnt think he was going to be able to finish the half. When he came back out and tried again, that amazed me

I saw it shaking like this, and I thought, oh man.
Cutler stung

Cutler seemed visibly stung by peers questioning his injury. He stood by his locker and answered questions after the game and it wasnt the same terse Jay Cutler who for two years has treated media sessions like dental appointments. He stood there with a knee injury that may require surgery.

READ: Torn MCL for Cutler?

Pretty impressive, actually. He shouldnt have had to put up with that crap.

Urlacher and Lance Briggs are among Bears who have made disparaging comments about Cutler. But as Briggs told me some time ago, Its because hes a quarterback. Theyre all less-than manly.

So what played out Sunday night was an NFL locker-room version of Animal Houses, Hey, they cant do that to our pledges. Only we can do that to our pledges.

What Cutler became this year was a quarterback. Not necessarily a really good one yet. But he became more than a passer, a guy with a gun and a ready-fire-aim mindset.

What he also became was their quarterback. Kreutz and his sidekicks have his front. Urlacher has his back.

Looking ahead to 2011, not a bad thing for Cutler to take away from an NFC Championship game, all things considered.

Comeback Caleb

Cutlers injury (and Todd Collins incompetence) didnt siphon off any glow from the relief job Caleb Hanie did. If anything needs to be questioned there, its why Hanie, who out-performed Collins in the Giants and Panthers games, was then summarily dropped below Collins on the depth chart because of Mike Martzs comfort level with old veteran guys as backups.

Last thought on how seriously good Hanies performance was:

Hanie may have known some the Green Bay offense better than his own. The No. 3 quarterbacks job is to run the scout team through the plays of the upcoming opponent, meaning that he spent more time last week being Aaron Rodgers than he did Caleb Hanie. I asked Hanie when the last time was that he ran Bears plays.

The bye week, he said with a little smile. He wasnt talking about the one between the regular season and the divisional-round game against Seattle. He was talking about the one in October.

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.

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Improvement typically comes in incremental steps, not leaps. And the Bears of 2017, based on what they have done at a handful of positions, the latest being Thursday’s signing of wide receiver Victor Cruz, fit that template.

The clear organizational commitment is to build through the draft, even if injuries have undermined some otherwise apparent upgrades to starting lineups on both sides of the football. But if there is a “theme” to what GM Ryan Pace is doing to muscle up a sluggish roster, it is that the Bears are willing to take flyers on veteran players – with additions like four veteran wide receivers with injury and issue histories – that arguably point to a win-now mindset while draft picks develop and contribute.

Jaye Howard and John Jenkins. Make the defensive line “better?” Than Jonathan Bullard and Will Sutton, probably. But “good?” Mmmmm…..

The game-one tight ends last year were Zach Miller-Logan Paulsen-Gregg Scruggs. Now they’re Miller-Dion Sims-Adam Shaheen (based on a second-round draft choice). “Good?” Maybe, maybe not. “Better?” Obviously, based on Sims alone.

Mike Glennon-Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky. Bears “better” at quarterback? Than Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley, probably. “Good?” Mmmmmm…..

The decisions to sign Glennon and Sanchez to the quarterback depth chart have sparked their shares of understandable cynical skepticism. But Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo were not available in trade, so the Pace decision was to gamble on upside with Glennon over the known quantity of Brian Hoyer (the preference of some coaches) and certainly Jay Cutler, for whom “potential” and “upside” no longer applied.

Add in the aggressive draft of Trubisky and the result was three possibilities of hits on a quarterback (Sanchez and Connor Shaw being combined here as a pair entry in the hit-possibility scenarios). All three were deemed an improvement over Cutler and/or Barkley.

The results may not vault the Bears all the way up to “good” at the pivotal position for any franchise. But “better” is sometimes all you can realistically manage.

Taking a wider-screen look at wide receiver in this context… .

Coach John Fox has cited the need for the Bears to establish the ability to get yardage in bigger chunks. Accordingly, all four of the veteran wideout signings this offseason – Cruz, Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright –  have posted yards-per-catch seasons of 14 or longer.

All four won’t be on the opening-day roster, but all four offer the promise of major impact. Cruz, Randle and Wright have had seasons of 70 or more receptions, and Wheaton topped out at 53 in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice weren’t available, so “good” was hard to achieve in an offseason in which Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were expected departures long before their exits. But are Cruz, Randle, Wheaton and Wright, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, a “better” starting point than Jeffery, Royal, White, Bellamy, etc. of a year ago?

Obviously. But players with even moderately established NFL “names” (like Cruz, Randle, etal.) are typically available for a reason; teams do not routinely give up on talent. And none of the four come without significant shadows on their NFL resumes, whether for injury or other questions.

Cruz missed most of 2014 and all of the 2015 season, and hasn’t played a full season since his Pro Bowl year of 2012.

Randle was described as a head case by scouts and was so bad that he was let go in the Eagles’ cutdown to 75 last year, followed by disparaging comments from those in and around the organization.

Wheaton flashed promise in his 2014-15 opportunities as a part-time starter but played just three games before a shoulder injury landed him on IR last season.

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Wright, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to pick up his fifth-year option going into las season. But by week 14 he was benched for tardiness and was a healthy DNP in game 16, announcing after the game that he already knew he was not in the Titans’ plans for 2017.

The prospect of the Bears going from 3-13 to “good” borders on fantasy. But if being among the NFL’s busiest this offseason hasn’t propelled the Bears to that level, the results point to “better.” At this point, that’s something,.

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

The Bears inked Victor Cruz to a one-year deal on Thursday, adding another receiver to an already crowded corps.

But it never hurts to add a veteran one to a young group, especially with a new starting quarterback.

Cruz is 30 years old and isn't the same Pro Bowl-caliber player he was before missing the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but he surely has a lot left in the tank and can serve as a great mentor for the Bears receivers.

Just how big of an impact will he have on his new team? See what the SportsTalk Live panel had to say in the video above.