With Cutler Out These Six Need to Step Up...............
With Jay Cutler out, these six Bears need to step up
by rick telander firstname.lastname@example.org November 22, 2011 9:10PM
Updated: November 22, 2011 11:22PM
The ripple effect started as soon as Jay Cutlerís thumb was broken and surgery scheduled. We can count six concentric rings of urgency spreading for the Bears even as Cutler goes under the knife Wednesday morning with the hope of returning by the post-season:
1. Jerry Angelo.
The general manager has basked in the radiant success of his aging defense, the now-cohesive offensive-line play and the stellar passing of Cutler, whose last game was a doomed beauty. There has been no drumbeat to fire Angelo recently, despite some of his drafting mistakes and the way nobody likes GMs. (Not even gonna comment or put Angelo down anymore than I have but at least one other person still thinks he hasn't done enough to assure success)
Success covers all. You think the risky swap of then-starting Bears QB Kyle Orton to the Broncos for the talented but immature Cutler three years ago was a good one? Well, it was brilliant, up until Sunday.
Now, in one of those goofy football ironies, Orton has been released by the Broncos, and Angelo wants him back. But not at any price. You donít blow up your salary structure for a fill-in quarterback. The Bears have untested, onetime undrafted free agent Caleb Hanie set to step in for Cutler, but itís for certain he canít do what Cutler did. Hanieís arm is to Cutlerís as a popgun is to a Glock. (Not a good comparison at all. Hanie may not have Cutler's arm strength, few do, but he doesn't have a pop gun for an arm. That would be Orton)
Angelo knows all this about Hanie. He also knows Orton has not played in the Bearsí new offensive system. Ortonís offensive coordinator during his Bears years was Ron Turner. Also out there as possibilities are retreads and has-beens such as Josh McCown, Jeff Garcia, Trent Edwards, Brodie Croyle and P.T. Barnum ó I mean, J.T. OíSullivan.
What does Angelo do? To save this 7-3 team, he needs to do something.
2. Matt Forte.
The talented, all-purpose running back who is living on thin ice ó does he get his big contract before he gets injured? ó needs to carry the ball more than he ever has, to become the heart of the offense.
Last Sunday, Forte carried the ball 20 times and caught four passes. Now he will need to do more of each, especially the running, and not just when the Bears are killing the clock, as six of his carries were against the Chargers.
Does the 25-year-old want to do that? Will he be allowed to? Forced to? (Of course he will nobody on that team has anymore heart than Matt Forte. He'll step up and help his team)
3. Mike Martz.
The offensive coordinator with the playbook that could double as a government document on nuclear fission will need to change his ways.He will need to dumb down, to edit into reality an offense that is built around security and ball control rather than fireworks and scoring. (Now that's funny. The part about his playbook I mean. The rest is dead serious and he better if he wants a job here next season)
He may have to work with a quarterback he has never met. Can he bring out the best in sub-par helmsmen? (He's met him but he just doesn't seem to prefer him. Hanie is not a sub-par backup either and I think even Martz realizes that. This author should too.)
Or is his ego too large and his demands too great? (Of course they are but Hanie's mama is even worse so don't expect him to wither under that, LOL)
4. Brian Urlacher.
The resurgent middle linebacker whoís playing as well as he ever has and has guaranteed his spot as a future Hall of Famer must now become a sort of defensive quarterback.
The Bearsí defense, in a way, is now the Bearsí offense. The defense should have a goal of scoring or creating at least two touchdowns per game. And Urlacher must be the one to create that urgency, to make his teammates see this as an opportunity rather than a burden. (The team is down by one leader so the other has to pick up the slack for both. This is where Urlacher starts taking over games like he has in the past. Picks, fumble recoveries, and key sacks are the recipe for the defense now)
Urlacher and pal Lance Briggs could both be Hall of Famers were the two longtime linebackers to lead this 7-3 team to another Super Bowl. Possible? Isnít football all about never giving in? (To Lombardi and Halas is was)
5. Devin Hester.
The Bearsí transcendent kick and punt returner needs to give the appearance of being able to score on every change of possession. He is that threat. He, too, will be a Hall of Famer, something nobody thought a special-teams guy should be. (What is this "give the appearance bullshit"? He already does more than that. He is able to score everytime he touches the ball so what more proof do you need. Where the hell have you been all this time Telander.....Mars???)
Can he scare the other teams into punting out of bounds? Can he rack up yards so the offense doesnít have to? Does the Indy car have an 11th gear? (Yes, yes and who the hell cares about Indy cars? He has the best overdrive in the return game.)
6. Lovie Smith.
The coach has, like Angelo, been given a pass since his team has recovered from its 2-3 start and won five in a row. Nobody was calling for Lovieís head after things settled down and Martz became controllable and the loss of rookie Gabe Carimi at the critical left-tackle spot was smoothed over. Amazing, but Smith is now in his eighth season as the Bearsí coach, and his excitement knob still only goes to about 2 or 3. Folks donít care, as long as the Wís flow. (Of course! Do you know anything about Bears fans and Bears football and Bears traditions at all?)
But nothing is the same now. Cutler has simply continued the Bearsí desperate search for a franchise quarterback who can stay in control for many years.Jim McMahon couldnít stay healthy back in the day. And nobody else has had the talent and the fire that Mad Mac did. Except Cutler, the most talented ever. (Yeah and damn sight more durable than Mac at his best. Cutler isn't 6'1 and 190 lbs)
What Lovie has to do now, quite simply, is coach. Hard and well.
Can he do that? (Yes I believe he can. I have more faith in the "new Lovie" than I ever have had before. Just someone please drug him on the sidelines during the game the next time he wants to "ice the kicker" on a 50 yard FG or try a fake punt up by 11 points in the final two minutes of a game)