Chicago Bears

View from the Moon: Why so personal with Jay?

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View from the Moon: Why so personal with Jay?

Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011
6:14 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

You want to be done with the Jay Cutler nonsense but it just keeps a-comin.

Of all the aspects of the Jay Cutler Affair, the most difficult to understand was the trashing he received at the hands of his NFL colleagues. It was seriously obvious that so much of the venom was oozing from dislike for Cutler; it was personal, not professional.

But even that doesnt explain the level of the antipathy. Why so personal?

Detroit Lions linebacker Zack Follett may have the answer. Now, bear in mind that in the same radio interview, chronicled in the Detroit Free Press, Follett dubs his own franchise quarterback, Matthew Stafford, a china doll because of Staffords injure-ability.

Follett, who finished the year on IR with a neck injury, did his best Maurice Jones-Drew backdown imitation, going on his Twitter account to clarify, Thats my bad on the China Doll comment.

But before that he gave a look at even though football may in the end be a business, it is still eminently personal.

I think the way he carries himself. We played him the first game of the season. He kind of has a swagger about him that. a little cockiness that it kind of makes defensive players kind of chomp at the mouth. Were ready to get at him. Our defensive coordinator, Gunther Cunningham, he wasnt a big fan of Cutler.

Throw that in with a segment of opinion viewing Cutler as a spoiled punk for the way he engineered his exit from Denver (which just about any working stiff would do from their job if they didnt like where they worked and had some juice to force a change), and you have the nub of it:

You dont like somebody? Then theyre guilty until proven innocent.

Logical thinking

The Cutler fallout has obscured the naming of the 2010 All-Pro team, which included Julius Peppers as one defensive end and Devin Hester as the returner. Chris Harris and Brian Urlacher were named to the second team.

Colleague Tom Curran out east at CSNNE.com, our Comcast New England operation, takes you on an insightful tour of his thinking behind each ballot he cast. Tom also tells you which way he voted and why when it was a different direction than the eventual winner.

Good stuff. And heres a hint: Urlacher didnt miss First Team by much.

A new low every hour

Just when you think youve heard just about every slime-ball comment and insult of Jay Cutler, now you have former Packer Greg Koch weighing in (pun intended).

Koch tells a Houston radio show that he saw Cutler as the X-factor (now there is some pithy insight) but I just never thought that his tampon would fall out on national TV.

Cutler was riding the stationary bike on the sideline like a little girl, Koch observed from his position as a savvy exercise therapist. Then putting his plastic stethoscope around his neck and chrome reflector head-band on, Dr. Koch prescribed treatment for Cutlers torn knee ligament, You can brace that thing.

The former tackle blocked for quarterbacks so he knows all of them well enough to contradict the notion that trainers (or perhaps, oh, I dont know, maybe a head coach) could shut one down. Oh, bull Nobody wouldve kept Tom Brady off the field if he wanted to play. Nobody wouldve kept Peyton Manning off the field.

Never mind that Cutler did come back in. I told you its a no-strings-attached league.

(Oh, and as far as putting the URL here for linking to the broadcast, Ill pass. This guy doesnt need any more attention that he just got here.)

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.

How Charles Leno Jr. isn't thinking about the big picture heading into a contract year

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USA Today Sports Images

How Charles Leno Jr. isn't thinking about the big picture heading into a contract year

One of John Fox’s favorite sayings is that the best ability is availability. No player exemplified that line more than left tackle Charles Leno Jr. in 2016. 

Leno played all 1,010 of the Bears’ offensive snaps last year. His effectiveness may not have matched his availability — Pro Football Focus, for what it’s worth, described Leno as being a “below average” starter. The Bears like Leno, though. But enough to give him another contract?

“He’s pretty reliable and dependable,” Fox said. “But we all have room for improvement so I think he’d tell you the same thing.”

For Leno, there’s no time like the present to make those strides. He’s due to hit free agency after this season, and, unless the Bears sign him to a contract extension, will enter a market that last spring saw five left tackles (Riley Reiff, Matt Kalil, Russell Okung, Andrew Whitworth and Kelvin Beachum) sign contracts each including eight-figure guaranteed money. But Leno, who will be 26 this spring, isn’t doing a lot of thinking about what his future could look like beyond this year. 

“It’s in the back of your mind, but at the end of the day I’m trying to go out there and just perfect my craft,” Leno said. “That’s really what I’m trying to do. I’ve been doing that the last two and a half years now. It’s the same routine every day. Just trying to go out there and perfect my craft, things will take care of itself. If I do what I need to do out there, everything will follow.”

For Leno, perfecting his craft means perfecting the basics of being a left tackle. What he rattled off: Placement of hands, base in pass set, staying square, not opening up too early. Being consistent in those areas is what Leno sees as that next step in his development. 

“I think Charles Leno does a really great job focusing attention to detail within his set,” left guard Kyle Long said. “Whether it’s a set angle, his hands or his strike, he always has a plan and he’s somebody that’s athletic enough to recover if he ever does get in a bad situation. It’s a really difficult position to play out there but I think Charles Leno is one of the most athletic guys that’s been around here.” 

Practice has provided an ideal opportunity for Leno to work on all those things, given the array of pass rushers he’s facing from his own defense. 

“I got a very fast guy (Leonard Floyd), I got a very tall, long guy (Willie Young), and I got a short, powerful guy (Lamarr Houston). I mean, what more do I need on a practice field? I got the best guys in the world to go against every day.”

But the point remains: Leno does have room for growth. A fully healthy Bears’ offensive line, with a more consistent Leno, can be one of the best units in the NFL on which the team’s level of production can be based. 

And if that’s the case, Leno can expect a significant payday next spring, either from the Bears or another team. 

“I never expected I would be in this situation, absolutely not,” Leno said. “I’m very blessed, I’m thankful for the opportunity that I’ve got into. But also, it’s a testament to the work I’ve been putting in for myself and I just don’t ever want that to stop. I don’t ever want the work ethic that I have to ever go down because I’ve got some money or because I’m in a contract year. I want to keep improving whether I have the money or not.” 

Could Mitch Trubisky have already shown the Bears he’s ready to start?

Could Mitch Trubisky have already shown the Bears he’s ready to start?

Could the Bears have already seen something in Mitch Trubisky that gives the front office and coaching staff a reason to believe he can start right away?

The short answer: It doesn’t sound like that’s happened yet from everything that’s been said publicly in Bourbonnais, Chicago and Lake Forest. But the longer answer, and a reason to ask this question, involves what happened with the Philadelphia Eagles a year ago.

Last year’s No. 2 pick didn’t show much, statistically, in his first (and only) preseason game. But Carson Wentz still was the Eagles’ starting quarterback in Week 1 of the 2016 season.

Wentz completed 12 of 24 passes for 89 yards with no touchdowns and one interception in his NFL preseason debut last August, and also suffered a hairline rib fracture in that game that kept him out of the final three weeks of preseason play. All that added up doesn’t exactly scream “Week 1 rookie starter.”

But through practices and workouts over the course of August, the Eagles came to believe they could trust Wentz with the starting job, ultimately shipping Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings in an early September blockbuster.

The Eagles, as it turned out, saw something in Wentz that may not have shown up on his preseason stat line. Trubisky, on the other hand, had an outstanding preseason debut.

Trubisky showed last week he’s more than capable of making all the throws expected out of an NFL quarterback — his third-and-long completion to Deonte Thompson stands out — and put his pure talent on display throughout his two-plus quarters of play. Teammates complimented how Trubisky commanded the huddle, though his plays were coming off a call sheet he was able to study before the game.

The Bears (and Trubisky) have framed his excellent showing against the Denver Broncos as a small step in the right direction, with still plenty on which the North Carolina product can improve. Once again, Trubisky will be the third Bears quarterback to take the field Saturday night against the Arizona Cardinals.

Consider how the Eagles opened training camp last year: Bradford was the No. 1, a veteran (Chase Daniel) was No. 2 and the rookie (Wentz) was No. 3. Sounds familiar, right? Then consider what coach Doug Pederson said about Wentz as training camp began:

“You want (Wentz) to be in a position where if there’s an injury or somebody goes down, you plug him in and you don’t have any worries,” Pederson said. “You’re fully confident in his ability to take over. Because backup quarterbacks need to be ready to go in an instant.”

The Bears’ brass hasn’t said anything along those lines regarding Trubisky, at least not yet. But there has been a scenario — albeit, not one completely congruous to what the Bears have, given the draft picks involved — where a No. 2 pick convinces a coaching staff and front office that he’s ready to start instead of a more experienced veteran. And it was seemingly based on a lot less than what we saw from Trubisky last week.