Moon: Changing of the guard?

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Moon: Changing of the guard?

But whos counting?

The 4-0 start for the Detroit Lions is all that ultimately matters right now but what coach Jim Schwartz and the infusion of new talent to go with a core the likes of wideout Calvin Johnson and left tackle Jeff Backus has the Lions on a 12-game winning streak, which is the stuff of culture-changing.

Detroit won its last four in 2010, all four in the 2011 preseason and now the current run of four. If the Lions arent for real this year.

Of course, carriages do turn into pumpkins, as the 2009 Denver Broncos illustrated. Kyle Orton got them to 6-0 with wins over Cincinnati, Dallas, New England and San Diego, all eventual division champions and a far more impressive conquest card than the Lions that is a combined 6-10. The Denver Cinderella lost eight of the next 10 to finish out of the postseason.

The 2007 Lions with Mike Martz coordinating the offense went pumpkin after a 6-2 start to finish 7-9.

Still, even with the jaw-dropping second-half stupidities by the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys to blow 20-point leads to Detroit, the 2011 Lions believe theyre good. That makes them dangerous. And it doesnt altogether surprise the Bears.

Ive seen it coming over the past few years, said cornerback Charles Tillman. I never thought they were a terrible team. I just think that they never jelled together. Now theyre getting all the jelling, theyre believing and theyre winning games. Theyre doing a helluva a job.

But the Lions are skating around the edge of a hype volcano. Sports Illustrated is putting the Lions on this weeks cover, and Michael David Smith over at ProFootballTalk.com captures the growing mania that has even reached the point of declaring Ndamukong Suh a better draft choice than Barry Sanders (http:tinyurl.com42ydoo3).

This is a fork in the emotional road. Just one, but its a national stage for a team that hasnt been on it since 2001, and when the whole world is telling you how good you are, it only takes a few in a locker room to start believing it for some unraveling to start.

The Bears would like to help that get started.

Help wanted

Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa will be working out for the Bears on Wednesday, according to various sources. The veteran started 10 of the first 11 games last season, was hampered by the knee injuries that have plagued his career and missed four games, then returned and started the NFC Championship game.

Another offseason knee surgery sent the Bears committing to Nick Roach as the starter on the strong side. But the linebacking group is seriously thin on experience and Tinoisamoa has been a favorite of Lovie Smiths since Tinoisamoas 2003 rookie season with the St. Louis Rams under Smith as defensive coordinator.

Worthy nominee

Not surprisingly, Matt Forte is among the nominees for the FedEx Ground NFL player of the week after 205 rushing yards and a touchdown. If he doesnt win this one, there shouldnt be a recount; there ought to be an investigation.

Arian Foster rushed for 155 yards and a TD in the Houston Texans win over Pittsburgh and Ryan Torain picked up 135 in Washingtons victory over the St. Louis Rams.

Forte has now had games of 158, 166 and 228 yards in the span of four weeks.

Fans are now part of the award process and can post ballots from now until 2 p.m. Friday on NFL.comFedEx.

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 face decisions on Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery and 2017 roster

Bears face decisions on Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery and 2017 roster

What we "knew" most about the 2016 Bears heading into the season is that, offensively, Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery would be the straws that stirred the offensive drink. 

Thanks to injuries, suspension and a perfect storm that resulted in a 3-13 season, the straw had a hole in it, the team still couldn't collectively close out games and a fifth-round rookie (Jordan Howard) and a second-year undrafted free agent (Cam Meredith) turned into the greatest causes for optimism on that side of the ball. 

The news that the team is shopping Cutler is hardly news-bulletin worthy. We've written about Cutler Fatigue here and discussed it on CSN's BearsTalk Podcasts for some time now. A breakup has seemed inevitable after eight years of .500 ball when he's been behind center. The tricky part is finding an alternative that would be a marked improvement for a coaching staff that might need to finish .500 to continue on the job in 2018. Yet that's the gamble that must be taken for a franchise that almost needs to move on, for better or worse, in order to find a way out of the muddy ditch it's found itself in.

Cutler must first be deemed healthy enough after labrum surgery on his throwing shoulder - something similar to what Buffalo did with Tyron Taylor this week following groin surgery. But Taylor might be a safer bet to stay with the Bills than Cutler is here. Those medicals might be out there already around the league if shopping has truly begun. And while a new destination for Cutler might not earn him the same salary (roughly $15 million) he'd make here, the thinking here is he'd prefer a fresh start just as much as the Bears want one. 

So let's go shopping.

Cleveland? No. 

San Francisco as a stopgap starter? Maybe. There's tons of salary cap space while a successor is groomed, and there's the Shanahan (Kyle/Mike) Factor. But more losing. 

How about Jacksonville to push his young clone, Blake Bortles? Perhaps. There's still a loaded, talented young defense that has yet to reach a promising ceiling, and a couple of talented receivers. 

The Los Angeles Rams could provide a push for Jared Goff (though it's hard not to see Goff being the starter, for better or worse). But if something should happen, Cutler would be ready, with Todd Gurley, what should be a respectable defense and a location close to where wife Kristin Cavallari can return to actressing. 

Jay in Buffalo? Good one! 

Arizona has already shot down interest. 

We don't see Denver wanting him back as they await Paxton Lynch's maturity with Trevor Siemian as a bridge. 

Reuniting with Adam Gase in Miami could be an option with Ryan Tannehill's health still a mystery. 

Then there's always Houston. I'm looking for Tony Romo's ultimate destination impacting Jay's. 

But retiring, as some reports this week suggested? No. Despite the public perception, Jay is a competitor, and I truly believe that still runs through him. He may not get to prove his reputation wrong before he retires, but despite what body language experts feel, I believe he'd still like to prove something. But I'm also not counting on any team giving up a draft pick for him. Teams know the Bears will release him, but if a club lower on the waiver claim wire truly desires him, Ryan Pace has squeezed something out from teams for his players on the discard pile before.

As for Jeffery, all remains quiet on the franchise tag front. The seal remains tight at Halas Hall over whether there have been any negotiations this past week, and if so, whether they've moved in a positive, long-term direction. 

Two things to keep in mind: the Bears did not tag him last year until the day before the deadline to do so. That deadline this year is March 1. The other is the fact that other teams in similar situations (such as Washington with Kirk Cousins and Kansas City with Eric Berry and Dontari Poe) have yet to make moves either, as that deadline looms. If the Bears determine they'll cut ties with Cutler, Eddie Royal and Lamarr Houston, that will free up another $24 million in cap space on top of the $60 million-plus they have already. Perhaps that factors into the decision on Jeffery, who'd get paid $17 million in 2017 under a second straight franchise tag for a team that needs play-makers and a coaching staff that needs wins next season. Letting him go would require attention and a portion of those dollars to replace him in the draft and/or free agency.

We leave all our internet/talk radio caller GM's with this question: Would you REALLY want to be in Ryan Pace's shoes this offseason? Can you be as shrewd, wise and run the table to the extent he must, especially at the most important, franchise-shaping position (which, granted, he's put on the back-burner his first two years)? And "get it right" to build momentum moving forward for a franchise that's reached the playoffs just once in the past decade? The rebuild remains substantial. And so are the decisions he faces in a crucial offseason.

Jay Cutler is reportedly considering retirement

Jay Cutler is reportedly considering retirement

This is apparently the week of Jay Cutler news.

Reports surfaced earlier this week the Bears are pushing hard to find a trade partner for the enigmatic quarterback, though Ian Rapoport reported the organization informed Cutler in mid-January they were shopping him around.

It seems clear Cutler's time in Chicago has come to an end and an ensuing move is more of a formality at this point.

But apparently Cutler may not even suit up again...for ANY team.

Rapoport reported on NFL Network Wednesday night Cutler is mulling over retirement, even as he's healthy and working out now after shoulder surgery.

"There's no guarantee Cutler even plays in 2017, one of several veterans who are still considering whether they want to play or not play, retire, walk away. A lot of things at play here for Jay Cutler."

Host Dan Hellie immediately followed up, asking for clarification on the retirement part.

"It is a consideration; it's something he's confided in people," Rapoport said. "But Dan, I would say, it's not a surprise for quarterbacks this age. We've heard [Ben] Roethlisberger talk about it; we've heard Tony Romo talk about it. If it's not perfect, if he can't find the team he wants or the contract he wants, it's very easy for Jay Cutler to walk away."

Whoa.

Cutler, 33, has made more than $112 million in his 11-year career and is owed at least another $2 million in 2017, even if he's cut by the Bears.