Keeping (the) Score: QBs and changes to the game of football


Keeping (the) Score: QBs and changes to the game of football

Thursdays regular 10 a.m. visit with Danny and Spiegs on WSCR 670 AMs The McNeil & Spiegel Show started to look a little past all of the concussion maelstrom and at the San Francisco 49ers game looming next Monday.

Looming is probably a good word for it.

49ers quarterback Alex Smith is looking to be a probable for the game, having been cleared for non-contact work following his concussion last weekend against the St. Louis Rams.

Jay Cutler has not been and the surprise will be if he is not declared out as early as Thursday both for his protection and for the Bears to make a statement that they arent going to risk a second concussion eight days after the first.

That means Jason Campbell as the Bears starting quarterback, with Josh McCown as his reserve. Mac was a little surprised at the lack of expressed concern over Campbell in place of a starting quarterback for the Bears, but my sense is that Campbell is not just any backup.

We talked a little about players reactions on the differences in delivery between Campbell (timing-oriented) and Cutler (when I see you getting open, here it comes in a hurry!). I also mentioned that I have never seen a chemistry among quarterbacks like the one Cutler, Campbell and McCown, where the whole is clearly better than the sum of the parts because of the support mindset in the quarterbacks room. McCown makes Campbell better.

The guys mentioned Mully and Hanley Show host Mike Mulligan talking earlier about changes coming in the game because of injuries like the ones to the three quarterbacks last weekend (Cutler, Smith, Michael Vick). I agree that there will be changes but I do think this will take at least a generation to change.

In football a generation means maybe 10 NFL years with accompanying changes in the feeder system of college. The awareness is growing among players but too many of them still regard hits to the knee more egregious than ones to the head.

I mentioned Brian Urlachers comments that for some reason the NFL thinks its OK to cut the knees, which can end a career, but not OK to hit the head, which maybe costs a player a week or two.

The knee worry is understood. But a blown ACL, for example, does not end a career. Just ask Adrian Peterson up in Minnesota, who had a monster knee injury last December. Or ask Corey Wootton, whose knee injuries started at Northwestern, held him back, but he now is a very, very productive impact player. So that thinking needs to adjust.

The change will be when players realize that concussions cost a lot, lot more.

We touched on the blow delivered to Cutler by Houston linebacker Tim Dobbins, who the guys mentioned as being proud of his knockout blows. Dobbins got a 30,000 fine; I thought he should have been suspended for a clearly premeditated, avoidable blow to mans head.

Watching the hit, all I could think of was Jack Tatums premeditated, avoidable blow to Darryl Stingley. What do you think the late Chicagoan and New England receiver would tell Urlacher and current players about whether blows to the head or knee are more devastating?

Where it all went wrong for Cubs and Miguel Montero

Where it all went wrong for Cubs and Miguel Montero

WASHINGTON – The Cubs swiftly reacted to Miguel Montero’s jaw-dropping criticism of Jake Arrieta, dumping the veteran catcher the day after the Washington Nationals ran wild with seven stolen bases and exposed some of the issues within the visiting clubhouse.

You could read the writing on the wall Wednesday morning when Anthony Rizzo’s comments on his weekly WMVP-AM 1000 appearance went viral. An All-Star first baseman who is tight with management and picky about when he decides to speak up called out Montero as a “selfish player.”

In designating Montero for assignment – a source confirmed catcher Victor Caratini will also be promoted from Triple-A Iowa – the Cubs will have to eat roughly half of his $14 million salary in the final year of his contract. 

Montero’s biggest sin is that he no longer produces like the two-time All-Star he had been with the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he developed a reputation for blunt honesty and a willingness to mentor young players. The Cubs wanted that edge when they traded for Montero at the 2014 winter meetings, part of a dramatic makeover that included signing ace pitcher Jon Lester to a $155 million megadeal.

Montero’s goofy “#WeAreGood” hashtag on Twitter became a symbol for a rising franchise and a loose team that didn’t care about the weight of history. 

But where Montero could be the spokesman in Arizona and wear the target on his back, a backup catcher can’t torch a Cy Young Award winner and the team’s running-game strategy when he is 0-for-31 and Contreras is throwing guys out 34 percent of the time.     

Montero welcomed Contreras and Kyle Schwarber to the big leagues, generously trying to help with their learning curve, even as they kept taking his playing time. Montero didn’t exactly have the same reaction to David Ross becoming a media darling and a crossover celebrity.

[RELATED: Miguel Montero sends classy goodbye to Cubs players and fans]

Montero already put himself in jeopardy in the immediate World Series aftermath, ripping manager Joe Maddon in a radio interview on the same day as the championship parade and Grant Park rally.  

Montero couldn’t help himself, even after delivering a pinch-hit grand slam against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, and driving in what turned out to be the winning run in the 10th inning against the Cleveland Indians in a World Series Game 7.

Montero wouldn’t bite his tongue late Tuesday night after a sloppy, frustrating 6-1 loss at Nationals Park. With a 39-38 record, several key players on the disabled list and a clubhouse far more complex than Maddon’s Woodstock visions, the Cubs are in crisis mode.   

“It really sucks because the stolen bases go on me,” Montero said. “When you really look at it, the pitcher doesn’t give me any time. It’s just like: ‘Yeah, OK, Miggy can’t throw nobody out.’ Yeah, but my pitchers don’t hold anybody on. It’s tough, because it doesn’t matter how much work I put in.

“If I don’t get a chance to throw, that’s the reason why they were running left and right today, because they know he was slow to the plate. Simple as that. It’s a shame that it’s my fault because I didn’t throw anybody out.”

Miguel Montero sends a classy goodbye to Cubs players and fans

Miguel Montero sends a classy goodbye to Cubs players and fans

Miguel Montero's Tuesday night comments showed questionable judgement, but the veteran catcher was all class in a farewell statement.

Montero said goodbye to his Cubs teammates, staff members and the city of Chicago Wednesday in a series of Tweets:

It's a perfect way for Montero to sign off, using the hashtag that united fans in 2015 as the Cubs' championship window first opened.

Montero has been an integral part of the Cubs the last three years, hitting maybe the biggest home run in franchise history (the grand slam in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers) and helping mentor Willson Contreras.