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