Lovie Tells Press, "Don't Feel Sorry For Us"...................
Bears' Smith: 'Don't feel sorry for us'
Coach confident loss of Cutler won't derail playoff drive By Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune reporter 6:16 p.m. CST, November 21, 2011
Lovie Smith walked into the crowded Halas Hall media room promptly at noon Monday and marveled at the crowd that had gathered.
The Bears coach was emphatic the big turnout wasn't for a funeral after the club acknowledged Jay Cutler will soon undergo surgery on his right thumb after it was fractured in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 31-20 victory over the Chargers at Soldier Field.
It was the fifth consecutive win for the Bears, and improved them to 7-3. They're in the thick of the NFC wild-card race, something Smith figures his team will be very much a part of with backup Caleb Hanie replacing Cutler for the time being. With three more wins, the Bears would likely reach the postseason.
"Don't feel sorry for us or anything like that," Smith said. "We have a lot of things in place. We're going to miss a great player for a period of time. But offensively we're going to rely on our running game a little bit more. We have a great defense and special teams. You know how we win football games around here."
Smith said Cutler's surgery will happen as soon as possible and that the plan is for the quarterback to return before the end of the regular season, which has six games remaining starting with Sunday's game at Oakland. Whether that means Cutler could return for the Dec. 25 game at Green Bay or the Jan. 1 finale at Minnesota, Smith wouldn't say.
"It stinks for us because he's having such a great year, he's our leader, he's a guy we turn to for pretty much everything," middle linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "So, it's bad for us as a team, but it's worse for him as an individual. He's having a great year. He's pretty upset about it I'm sure and it's not going to be a fun process for him."
The Bears will search for a veteran quarterback to add to the mix behind Hanie as third quarterbackNathan Enderle, a rookie fifth-round pick from Idaho, is completely untested. Smith placed his faith in Hanie much the same way he did with Kyle Orton when he was a rookie starter in 2005 after Rex Grossman was lost for four months with a fractured leg during the preseason. By being an effective game manager, Orton was 10-5 as a starter, winning eight in a row at one point.
"Same goal," Smith said. "Nothing has changed around here. This is a tough blow but we know how to handle these situations. We've lost our starting quarterback and had to go to the next guy and he led us on a long winning streak and allowed us to have a successful season. Whenever you get in a situation, you draw back on your history and what you've gone through in the past."
The Bears won the NFC North that season with the league's top-ranked scoring defense. They allowed only 202 points on the season and Thomas Jones rushed for 1,335 yards. Orton passed for only 1,869 yards but he threw one or no interceptions in 13 of his 15 starts. He might not have individually led many victories, but he didn't throw many games away like some unproven quarterbacks do.
Hanie has not made a start and has thrown only 14 career regular-season passes. He entered the NFC championship game in the fourth quarter last season with the Bears trailing the Packers 14-0 and led two scoring drives. The Bears were on the Packers' 29-yard line when he was intercepted in the end zone by Sam Shields on a fourth-and-5 pass.
The Bears didn't turn to Hanie until veteran backup Todd Collins — who offensive coordinator Mike Martz lobbied hard to get — bombed out, making it fair to question Martz's support of Hanie.
"Caleb will be fine," Urlacher said. "Nothing against Caleb, but we have to step up on defense and play better. Caleb did a good job for us last year. He's got some ability. He runs really well. He's going to be able to move around in the pocket a little bit, maybe do a little bit of things with that — a little (Tim) Tebow offense maybe.
"Who knows? He'll have a chance to show us what he can do. These games all matter for us so they're a big situation, just like the NFC championship was for him last year."
I guess I'm well known around here as one of Lovie Smith's biggest critics and nothing he did on the field this past Sunday (time out prior to a missed FG and failed fake punt attempt with the game won) will deter me from thinking he's one of the worst gameday coaches in the NFL but I do have a renewed sense of optimism about him overall.
For the first time in his HC career he's showing some decision making strength and leadership he's never shown to this level before. At least not to the public. He's holding his team accountable not just for playinbg well but for winning games which he's always been soft on before to my way of thinking. If guys aren't producing they sit or play less.
Don't know if anyone else noticed or not but Paea and Okoye started the Charger game in place of Melton and AA and at least Melton responded with a big tackle for loss on Ryan and AA chased after Rivers and forced a bad throw. We didn't get to Rivers, and that needs to change, but we did penetrate and play the run well. As much as I like Chris Harris after watching Conte play FS I think we've got our guy back there and Major Wright has come up big with key picks in the last three games. That one on Sunday was a game saver.
So when Lovie steps up to the microphone and says "no worries", "we'll still get it done with Hanie", I believe in him far more than I have at anytime in recent history. For the first time in awhile now I actually believe the coaching will match the talent and keep this team on track. Hanie needs the support of a strong run game and the Bears defense needs to look at holding teams to 17 points and less but I think the guys will step up for Lovie and Hanie and we'll keep the train rolling.
I've always respected Lovie for the guy he is but I'm actually starting to like him, his leadership and his style of play now. Don't that beat all?????
I'm getting to that age where a lifetime warranty just doesn't mean as much to me anymore as an afternoon nap.
Honey Badger Don't Care. Honey Badger Don't Give a Shit.