Chicago Bears: Martellus Bennett

We’re in the midst of free-agent frenzy, but let’s take a quick break to recognize tight end Martellus Bennett for what appears to be completion of his first animated short film.

Bennett posted a link to the trailer on his Instagram page.

While there’s not much to see there, our own David Fleming did a profile on Bennett in November, which delved into great detail about the tight end’s film, which is expected to premier this month in Los Angeles.

The film is called “Zoovie,” and it’s about a performing penguin named Cosmo, who is voiced by rapper Asher Roth.

Cosmo wants to do more than just perform routines for crowds at the zoo, and in a way, this animated film is metaphoric for Bennett.

Bennett told Fleming: “Football is so restrictive and controlled. Someone else comes up with a play, and you have to run a specific route and run it exactly the right way or the whole thing breaks down. There isn't a lot of room for creativity. So I need this outlet. I need to get away and refresh my mind. We all do. That's what the bye week's for. And if I don't, things just build up and I get creatively constipated, and that's not good for anybody."
In the lead-up to Super Bowl XLIX, some current and former Chicago Bears made the rounds for interviews, discussing subjects ranging from the actual game to junior-high crushes.

“Mike & Mike” caught up with former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher to discuss Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch and Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, among other subjects, while tight end Martellus Bennett appeared on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” where he reminisced about playing the clarinet in junior high.

Urlacher, who faced Lynch four times -- including the postseason -- from 2010-12 compared the Seahawks running back to Ricky Williams. Lynch averaged 3.4 yards per attempt in those four matchups against Urlacher, and he never rushed for more than 87 yards in a game.

“Ricky Williams, in my opinion, was one of the better guys in the league,” Urlacher said. “He didn’t have the balance that Marshawn has. Marshawn, he’s hard to tackle. I only played against him a couple of times. We did OK against him in Chicago when I was there. But he’s a different guy now. He’s not the same player he was back then. He’s clicking on all cylinders.”

Lynch
What makes Lynch such a dominant player?

“Obviously, you look at how strong he is. He doesn’t put the ball on the ground, No. 1. He takes care of the football; catches it well,” Urlacher said. “He does everything you want a guy to do. That offense, they want to run the football, which is good because he’s a powerful guy. With that little zone-read, man, it’s hard because if you get him one-on-one, he’s gonna make a guy miss.”

Shifting to the New England Patriots, Urlacher called Gronkowski “a terrible matchup problem.”

Gronkowski
Gronkowski
“He’s physical. The one game I played against him I think he pushed off on me for a touchdown. Offensive guys can get away with that. But he’s so good at using his body. He’s got great hands,” Urlacher said. “That catch he made against the Colts with a deflated football. ... I think it was in the second half. It was a full football. But the guy’s got great hands; big, physical guy, fast. You watch him catch the ball and guys can’t tackle him. The run he had against, I want to say Indy the first time they played, when he jumped over the guy in the end zone, he has no regard for his body. He’s a matchup problem for any defensive coordinator. Who do you put on him? Do you put a linebacker [on him]? No, he’s not gonna run on him. Do you put a safety [on him]? Probably undersized, unless it’s Kam Chancellor, then you have a little bit better chance.”

Urlacher also dished on Seattle’s defense and where it stands among some of the other great defensive units in NFL history.

“I think they’re already in that breath,” Urlacher said. “When you look at what they’ve done statistically over the last couple of years, and it’s rarely been done in the NFL. So I think they’re already in that category. If they beat [Tom] Brady, they solidify it, in my opinion.”

Bennett
Bennett, meanwhile, discussed more lighthearted topics during his time on the interview circuit. Bennett divulged that as an eighth-grader growing up in Texas, he was a member of his school’s band.

“So I learned to play the clarinet because they had this one pretty girl named Amanda,” Bennett said. “She was pretty good. But she ended up being second chair to me because I was first chair, which is big-time in band. If you’re first chair, that means like being first team. Second chair is like being almost as good as the first chair.”

So what happened with Amanda?

“We didn’t have a relationship. It was one of those things,” Bennett said. “She was Korean, and I was a 6-7 black guy in eighth grade. I don’t think her parents liked me as much.”

Chicago Bears season report card

December, 31, 2014
12/31/14
11:00
AM ET
video » AFC: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

Following a promising 2013 campaign when the offense ranked No. 2 in scoring during Marc Trestman's first year at the helm, the Chicago Bears entered 2014 with sky-high expectations, only to experience a colossal letdown with five consecutive losses to close the season. Ownership had no other choice but to clean house.

The Bears signed Jay Cutler last January to a monster seven-year contract worth $126.7 million only to bench him 14 games into the new deal in favor of backup Jimmy Clausen. The club's top acquisition in free agency, Lamarr Houston, finished 2014 on the injured reserve after tearing his right ACL celebrating a sack when the Bears were behind significantly in an Oct. 26 beatdown at New England. Brandon Marshall, who signed a three-year, $30 million extension last offseason, also finished on injured reserve because of rib and lung injuries; he failed to gain 1,000 yards receiving for the first time since his rookie season (2006), as did surprising free-agent acquisition Willie Young, who suffered a season-ending torn Achilles in a loss to the Detroit Lions.

Chicago finished the 2014 season as arguably the most underachieving club in the NFL, given all the talent on offense.

MVP: Matt Forte missed earning the nod for his second consecutive Pro Bowl, and it's worth pondering whether play calling prevented that from happening. Going into the season finale, Forte ranked No. 3 in the NFL in all-purpose yards (1,772). And although Forte caught a team-high 94 passes through the first 15 games, running backs prove their mettle running the ball. Too bad the Bears too often refused to do so. Forte hit 100-plus yards on just three occasions, but the running back was by far this team's most consistent skill-position player on offense. Arguably the league's best all-around running back, Forte carried the ball just five times in a Thanksgiving loss at Detroit. It's a shame this coaching staff didn't properly utilize him.

Best moment: Chicago's 28-20 win in Week 2 over the San Francisco 49ers registers as this team's top moment because at the time, the 49ers were still considered a Super Bowl contender. Receivers Alshon Jeffery and Marshall suffered injuries in the season opener, and in the minutes before the first regular-season game at Levi's Stadium, there was quite a bit of uncertainty about whether the duo would be healthy enough to play. Just before kickoff, the club announced Marshall and Jeffery would play, and Marshall sparked a 21-point fourth quarter in the team's comeback win. The Bears trailed 20-7 to start the fourth quarter, but the Bears took advantage of a couple of interceptions by rookie corner Kyle Fuller to take the victory. Marshall caught three touchdown passes in that game.

Worst moment: Aaron Kromer's anonymous criticism of Cutler for an NFL Network report and subsequent admission could go in this place. But Trestman's benching of Cutler in favor of Clausen after a Dec. 15 loss to the New Orleans Saints represented the low point of the coach's tenure. Trestman undoubtedly fractured the relationship with the quarterback, but the move called into question general manager Phil Emery's skills as a personnel evaluator, considering he was the driving force in signing Cutler to his big contract last January. Trestman's decision to bench Cutler casts doubt on the quarterback's future, and the huge financial commitment makes trading him this offseason a difficult proposition.

2015 outlook: Decisions regarding the new general manager and coaching staff seem like just the beginning. The Bears need to upgrade the talent on both sides of the ball. The only encouraging sign regarding personnel is that the Bears played 2014 with an NFL-high 17 rookies on the roster. Still, the Bears need to overhaul virtually the entire secondary and add at linebacker. But most important, the Bears need to figure out what to do with Cutler, whose $15.5 million salary for 2015 is fully guaranteed and who is set to earn another $10 million in guarantees for 2016 if he's on the roster on the third day of the new league year. So if the plan is to move Cutler, the Bears need to set upon that task quickly, and there's sure to be a market for the quarterback. If the plan is to keep Cutler, the organization needs to repair the relationship, which was damaged after the club's decision to bench him due to a horrid showing in a Week 15 loss to New Orleans.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Martellus Bennett never hears his name mentioned among the NFL’s top tight ends.

So with the Chicago Bears' goal of making the postseason out of reach with three games remaining, Bennett finds motivation in proving he belongs among the game’s elite at the tight end position.

“I sit back every week and hear everybody talking about the top tight ends in the game,” Bennett said. “Every single week they never mention my name or they talk about all these other guys. So anytime I go out, I just try to outperform every tight end in the league and show them that I am elite, and I’m one of the best in the league. I think I’ve been playing that way most of the year.”

The numbers certainly reflect that.

Having caught 77 passes for 821 yards to go with six touchdowns, Bennett achieved career highs in each of those categories with three games remaining. Bennett ranked sixth among tight ends in Pro Bowl voting back in November.

Bennett ranked ninth in the NFL in receptions (77) headed into Monday’s games and first among tight ends. His 821 yards rank No. 3 among NFL tight ends behind Rob Gronkowski and former Bear Greg Olsen.

“There are some things I could’ve done better, some things I want to do better, a lot of work to do to become the player I want to become,” Bennett said. “But ultimately, I’m happy with my progression. Coaches have been doing a great job. Players have been helping me out. I’ve been very studious about my approach to the game and my personal game plan within the coaches’ game plan of how I plan on getting open and things like that. I’m excited about the things I’ve been able to do this season. I’ve been playing hard.”
Let’s kick off today’s spin around the Chicago Bears beat with colleague Melissa Isaacson’s thorough piece about the Twitter harassment Marc Trestman’s daughters were subjected to during and after the team’s 55-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

For all you Twitter thugs out there, Illinois is one of about 30 states currently with cyber-stalking and cyber-harassment laws on the books, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures website.

So please, let's stop the Twitter tough-guy act. Isaacson writes:
All you had to do was walk through the Bears' locker room Wednesday to confirm that. Talking about their own personal brushes with threats and harassment, players made it clear they are exposed to this sort of a thing on a stunningly routine basis.

"People have told me I have to leave Twitter because my Twitter was filled with people saying they were going to kill me," Bears safety Chris Conte said almost casually. "But you have to understand it's all talk...

"Social media is not reality. It's just a space where people voice what they say in their living rooms -- people still talking the same mess and junk in their living rooms before, but they push a button and nobody knows who said it."

Of course, the ease of such morally corrupt and perhaps criminal behavior is at the crux of the issue as flippant cruelty dominates digital comment sections and message boards across all genres these days.

Bears tight end Martellus Bennett claimed he doesn't care what people say about him on social media sites. But he still shakes his head at the absurdity of much of it.

"Say if we lost a game yesterday and I go have lunch with my daughter and post a picture; it's, 'You suck, why are you having lunch with your daughter?'" he said.

Bennett said that similar to many players' wives, his wife got off social media because she was tired of the harassment.

"Me, it's cool," he said. "This is what I do for a living. You're not happy with my performance, you paid for a ticket, you can say what you want to say. But you don't have a right to attack people's families, their kids. What did they have to do with it?"
  • It’s time for the Bears to rebuild confidence, writes Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune.
  • The Tribune's David Haugh takes a look at Jay Cutler’s suddenly uncertain future. Haugh writes:
  • But can everybody really change? Six seasons into his Bears tenure, Cutler's actions defy his words. His inability to change from the same maddening quarterback he was the day he arrived in 2009 has helped turn a promising 2014 season into a study in regression.

    Blame for a 3-6 record spreads to every corner of the Bears locker room, but a significant portion sits in front of No. 6's stall because, fair or not, that's the way it works for NFL quarterbacks. Even Cutler accepts that. Forget the gaudy passing statistics; Cutler has committed 15 turnovers. He has been inconsistent enough to consider benching, if the Bears had a backup worthy of starting. With due respect to Jimmy Clausen, they don't.

  • The Bears don’t have answers for what has transpired this season writes Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Here are the Sun-Times’ picks for Sunday’s game.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears held out Martellus Bennett from Friday’s practice due to a rib injury, and the club officially listed the tight end as questionable on the final injury report headed into Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

“We’ll see. We really don’t know right now,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “He’s been inside getting treatment. We’re hopeful he’ll play.”

Bennett
Bennett suffered the injury during practice on Wednesday when “he twisted a little bit,” according to Trestman, who called the incident “kind of awkward on the practice field.”

If Bennett isn’t able to play against the Packers, the Bears will utilize veteran Dante Rosario in the starting lineup.

“These things happen,” Trestman said. “We’ve got a lot of faith in Dante and the things that he can do. We know the value that Marty has. We’re not underestimating that at all. We’re going to do the best we can. We’re not going to make excuses.”

Bennett currently ranks second among NFL tight ends in catches (47) and second on the team. He is also second on the team in receiving yardage (563) and is tied for the team lead with five touchdown receptions.

Bennett comes off a six-catch performance against the New England Patriots.

In other injury news, the Bears officially declared left guard Matt Slauson (torn pectoral muscle) out for Sunday along with linebacker Darryl Sharpton (hamstring).

Linebackers Jon Bostic (back) and Lance Briggs (ribs) are probable, along with cornerback Kyle Fuller (hand), safety Danny McCray (knee) and right tackle Jordan Mills (foot).
There’s no better way to kick off our look around the Bears beat with this piece by ESPN.com’s David Fleming, who spent the bye week with tight end Martellus Bennett as he put the finishing touches on his animated movie “Zoovie”.

Bennett
 Bennett told me he spent his bye week working on the film, which he hopes to enter in some upcoming festivals.

While most of the piece chronicles Bennett’s creative process, the tight end does talk a little football. When he does, Bennett drops a money quote about the importance of Sunday’s game at Green Bay. With the Bears sitting at 3-5, Bennett knows there’s the possibility some of his teammates have given up on the season.

"There are guys, and I've seen it, there are guys in this situation [on other teams], and coaches too, who are already packing it in and shutting it down and already in offseason mode, like, 'What beach or what club or what golf course am I going to?' That's why the Packers game will tell us a lot,” Bennett said. “That's what I want to see: Who's coming back with that mentality that we could still make the playoffs, and who's already packed it in and already thinking about partying and hitting the club in the offseason?"

By the way, Bennett says in the piece he’s fully planning on the Bears advancing to the playoffs.

If you get a minute, take a look at the piece because it’s definitely worth a read to get an idea of what makes Bennett click.

-- ESPNChicago.com’s Jon Greenberg isn’t confident about the team’s chances Sunday at Green Bay with Jay Cutler at the helm. Can’t say I blame him.

Greenberg writes: As you might be able to infer, I'm not too positive about these Bears' chances this week. I don't buy the hype about a post-bye-week revival. That's typical NFL empty blather. Nothing has changed for this team. If it finishes 8-8, consider that an accomplishment.

With a game against the hated Packers on tap, there's more buzz in Chicago about Joe Maddon buying shots and Blackhawks fans buying Winter Classic jerseys.

Who can blame us? How could anyone be confident with Cutler starting in Green Bay?

The Bears are 1-9 against the Packers with Cutler as the starter -- including the NFC championship loss he couldn't finish -- thanks in part to his 20 interceptions and slapdash play. In three games at Lambeau Field, all losses, he's completed 48 percent of his passes for 571 yards, two touchdowns and 10 picks.

-- Matt Forte says talk is cheap, ESPNChicago.com’s Jeff Dickerson takes writes.

-- Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune chronicles Brandon Marshall’s brief session with the media on Thursday at Halas Hall.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears added tight end Martellus Bennett to their short list of injuries heading into Sunday’s game at Green Bay.

Bennett was limited for Thursday’s practice inside the Walter Payton Center due to rib soreness, but his status for Sunday’s game isn’t in jeopardy. The team conducted practice at its indoor facility Thursday because of high winds posing a potential safety threat for the video staff filming practice from lifts.

“So we did that today and we went inside, did a two-minute period today to start practice,” Trestman said Thursday. “It was a competitive two-minute, and then we worked on third down and here we are. So we had a good, brisk workout today. Very competitive. Guys worked extremely hard today as they always do.”

The team held out guard Eben Britton (appendectomy) and linebacker Darryl Sharpton (hamstring).

Full participants for the workout Thursday included linebackers Jon Bostic (back) and Lance Briggs (ribs), cornerback Kyle Fuller (hand), safety Danny McCray (knee) and right tackle Jordan Mills (foot).

Rapid Reaction: Chicago Bears

October, 26, 2014
10/26/14
4:05
PM ET

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A few thoughts on the Chicago Bears' 51-23 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium:

What it means: The margin of error continues to shrink for the Bears, who fell yet another game further behind in the NFC North race with Sunday's stomping at the hands of the Patriots. The Bears have lost four of their last five outings, and what's worse is they entered Sunday's game already two games behind the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. Good thing the Bears receive Week 9 off to rest and regroup.

Stock watch: It's time Bears coach Marc Trestman takes a larger share in the accountability, and from this vantage point, his stock is falling dramatically. Sure, the turnovers committed by Jay Cutler that played a major role in the Bears losing four games going into Sunday weren't the coach's fault. But Trestman certainly is responsible for preparing his team, and the Bears weren't ready to play in this contest.

After the team's emotional loss to the Miami Dolphins, Trestman insisted throughout the week that his team had moved past all the negativity coming out of it. As the man responsible for regrouping the team and helping it to navigate through difficulties, Trestman doesn't seem to be getting the job done. At this point, there should be real concern as to whether the team is beginning to tune out Trestman because it certainly didn't respond to the challenge posed by the Patriots.

Bennett comes alive: We hadn't heard in a while from tight end Martellus Bennett, who hadn't caught a touchdown pass since Week 3 against the New York Jets. After essentially destroying the team's opening drive with a holding penalty, Bennett was one of the few bright spots on offense, catching six passes for 95 yards and a difficult 20-yard touchdown he yanked down just as he fell to the turf. Bennett hauled in six of the seven passes thrown his way.

Game ball: Matt Forte continues to serve as the club's only consistently dependable option on offense. He averaged 6 yards per attempt through the first three quarters, in which he rushed for 96 yards, and caught six passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. Forte put together just his second 100-yard rushing performance (114) of the season.

What's next: The Bears don't play next week. They will take time off while the coaching staff does a critical self-evaluation of the Bears in all phases, and there's a good chance plenty of changes will be made schematically when the team finally heads back to Halas Hall for practice. The Bears won't play again until Nov. 9 at Green Bay.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Before getting into thick of the Chicago Bears' next matchup at the Carolina Panthers, let's first take a look at the team's first-quarter report card after a 2-2 start:

Quarterback

Jay Cutler has completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. He's shown more discipline and better command of the offense, but costly turnovers have been an issue. If Cutler maintains his current level of efficiency, he'll set a career high in passer rating for the second consecutive season. Cutler currently ranks third in completions (102), ninth in yards (1,006) and is tied for second in touchdowns, and his passer rating is currently 94.7. Grade: B

Running back

Matt Forte finally broke through for his first 100-yard rushing performance against the Green Bay Packers and is currently tied for eighth in rushing yards (258), first in receptions at his position (24) and third in yards from scrimmage (452). Rookie Ka'Deem Carey is becoming more of a factor in the offense as well, and the Bears have employed formations that feature both backs in the game at the same time. Both backs average at least 4 yards per attempt. Grade: B+

Offensive line

Injuries in the season opener to center Roberto Garza and Matt Slauson gave cause for concern, but their replacements Brian de la Puente and Michael Ola have performed well. The group has given up eight sacks through the first four games. According to Pro Football Focus, every offensive lineman graded positively in run blocking against the Packers. Grade: B-

[+] EnlargeMartellus Bennett
David Banks/Getty ImagesThe offseason work tight end Martellus Bennett put in is paying off for the Bears.
Tight end

Martellus Bennett ranks second in catches (29th) among tight ends, fourth in yards (295) and is tied for second in touchdown receptions (four). Bennett put in the work during the offseason to prepare for a more significant role, and he appears to have developed a strong rapport with Cutler. Bennett has scored a touchdown in all but one game, while averaging 7.25 receptions. Grade: A

Receiver

Injuries have led to slow starts for Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, who have combined for 36 receptions and six touchdowns through four games. But the duo is gradually getting back to full speed. The club's complementary targets such as Santonio Holmes and Josh Morgan haven't received many opportunities to showcase their talent, but they're plenty capable. Grade: B-

Defensive line

The Bears revamped the defensive line in the offseason with the additions of Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young in addition to drafting Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton. But the group certainly hasn't met expectations as the Bears rank 20th against the run while contributing just eight sacks (linebacker Shea McClellin is responsible for a sack as well). For the Bears to gain any level of consistency on defense with the style they play, the defensive line needs to step up its game, shut down the run and pressure the quarterback. Grade: D

Cornerback

The Bears are tied for fourth in the league in takeaways (eight), and rookie Kyle Fuller deserves credit for his team-high- three interceptions and two forced fumbles. Fuller became the only NFL player in the past 20 years with three interceptions and two forced fumbles in the first three games of the season. Obviously, Charles Tillman's season-ending triceps injury hurts the position. But the Bears are in decent shape with Fuller and Tim Jennings. The Bears need better play from the nickel corner spot. Grade: B-

Safety

Chris Conte gave up 46 yards on two catches and a touchdown against the Packers and missed a couple of tackles but for the most part has performed well (two interceptions). Ryan Mundy has been a solid run defender, and provided one of the team's takeaways with his pick-six Sept. 22 against the New York Jets. Overall, the safeties still need to play a little better. But they've been much more consistent than they were in 2013. Grade: C+

Linebacker

Shea McClellin entered the season as the starter on the strong side but has been on the shelf recently with a broken hand. Perhaps that's somewhat of a blessing in disguise as it has enabled the Bears to upgrade the overall athleticism of the starting lineup by replacing McClellin with Jonathan Bostic. The group lacks consistency in terms of gap integrity and pass coverage but is tracking positively. Grade: C-

Coaching

Coach Marc Trestman caught heat for the club's clock management in the second quarter to Green Bay, and you have to admit the Bears committed a few unnecessary penalties in the defeat, not to mention the thrown challenge flag that resulted in a lost timeout. Trestman deserves credit for suspending Bennett during training camp, because the move resulted in a positive change for the tight end. And you can't deny this Bears team did manage to pull together back-to-back road wins against strong opponents. Grade: C+

Overall

The consecutive road wins at San Francisco and New York followed by the stinker at home against Green Bay point to a lack of consistency in every facet of the game, and while injuries at key positions have been an issue, Chicago's situation plays out every week all over the league. So there are no excuses here. Ultimately, the Bears will be in decent shape in the second half of the season if they can finish the second quarter headed into the bye with a record of .500 or better.
CHICAGO -- An examination of what the Chicago Bears must do after their 23-20 overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills: Coach Marc Trestman defended Jay Cutler in the aftermath of the quarterback’s two interceptions Sunday that led to points.

Cutler
But if the Bears expect to succeed against San Francisco on the road Sunday night, the coach needs to administer some tough love to his $126 million quarterback behind closed doors, in addition to preparing potential replacements along the offensive line and at receiver as contingency plans for injuries, while cracking the whip on the club’s porous run defense.

That’s quite a bit to accomplish in three days of prep time, but Trestman and the staff need to cover as much ground as possible.

“As I told the guys, it’s continuity football,” Trestman said. “It’s all about team. All three phases are involved in this game. We’ve got to accept responsibility, and that starts with me.”

The Bears turned the ball over three times, leading to 13 points, and the Bills needed to move the ball a total of 58 yards to put those points on the board. That's too easy for Buffalo; too hard on Chicago’s embattled defense.

Cutler’s INTs came on a pass thrown behind Martellus Bennett, while the other throw to the tight end -- which was picked off by defensive tackle Kyle Williams -- should never have been attempted. It’s one thing to try to make a play. But in crucial situations, smart football rules the day.

Had Cutler simply thrown it away instead of forcing the throw on his second INT, the Bears would have had one more down to try to win the game. Trestman also could have helped Cutler on the second INT, which came on third-and-1 in the fourth quarter in Buffalo territory, by making a better play call like a simple run as opposed to the bootleg, which exposes the quarterback to potential punishment, not to mention turnovers.

Trestman and the offensive staff also need to prepare potential replacements for Roberto Garza, Matt Slauson and Alshon Jeffery to take on more significant roles if the trio is forced to miss time.

Defensively, the Bears gave up 193 yards on the ground, including Fred Jackson’s 38-yard burst that set up the game-winning field goal. Take away Jackson’s 38-yard run and Anthony Dixon’s 47-yard jaunt, and the Bears would have surrendered 108 yards on 31 attempts. That’s still too much.

“We didn’t play disciplined football for four quarters, and it hurt us,” defensive end Lamarr Houston said. “We were in a good position to get them stopped, but once again, we lacked in the discipline area. We have to do our jobs, know our jobs, and just play disciplined football.”

That applies in all three phases.
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears reeled off more than 400 yards of offense and converted 42 percent on third down, yet they came up short in overtime 23-20 against the Buffalo Bills, in part because Jay Cutler continues to be Jay Cutler.

The Bears entered the game Sunday with an offense expected to be one of the league’s best, due to its performance in 2013, yet finished the day stymied -- not only by the Bills but also by themselves -- in front of the home crowd at Soldier Field. With the score tied at 17 and 8:01 remaining, Cutler tossed his second interception while attempting to make a dangerous throw back left against his body to Martellus Bennett while on the move running right to elude the rush.

"I was just trying to get it inside to Marty," Cutler said. "Third-and-1 there. I should have just thrown it away."

Instead, the quarterback played a role in throwing away the entire game with the interception. Signed to a seven-year contract worth $126 million in January after a promising 2013 campaign, Cutler continues to make puzzling decisions in games. His inconsistency leads to doubt about whether he'll ever shed the label of enigma by making smart moves with the ball while limiting turnovers in crucial situations.

Yet Bears coach Marc Trestman defended the quarterback Sunday when asked whether Cutler, now in his sixth season with Bears, should now be past making such damaging decisions in critical situations.

"To be able to make those kinds of statements after being out there in the heat, those are tough," Trestman said. "There's a lot of reasons these plays come up, and I think I'm gonna leave it at that."

Cutler's second interception was picked off by Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams. The Bills turned that into a Dan Carpenter field goal to go ahead 20-17.

“We rolled up a lot of yards,” Cutler said. “Turnovers hurt us. Penalties hurt us. We just kept stubbing our toe on certain things throughout the game.”

By doing so, the unit basically slammed the embattled defense’s head against a wall. Of Buffalo’s 23 points on the afternoon, 13 came as the result of Bears turnovers. The Bills needed to move the ball a grand total of 58 yards after the turnovers to put those points on the board.

Chicago’s defense definitely deserves criticism for surrendering Fred Jackson’s 38-yard run in overtime that set up Carpenter’s game-winning field goal. But prior to OT, the Bills feasted on two turnovers in Chicago territory. The final one, Williams’ pick, occurred on the Buffalo 34. A horse-collar tackle tacked onto the end of the return gave Buffalo possession at its own 48 with 7:52 left in regulation.

“Going into games like this, you can talk about a lot of different things,” Trestman said. “But when you have drives and you turn the ball over three times and you wind up being minus-2 in the plus-minus department, you get all the answers you need.”

That naturally leads to continued questions regarding Cutler, whose two picks led to 10 Bills points.

“You guys are going to be as negative as possible,” Cutler said postgame. “We understand that. We made mistakes today.”

Brandon Marshall contributed with a fumble recovered by Preston Brown in the second quarter. That turnover led to points, too.

Cutler’s first pick came on an errant throw to Bennett. But the tight end took responsibility for not looking for the ball sooner, though it was actually thrown behind him.

Of Cutler's second interception, “I don’t know what happened on that s---,” Bennett said. “The fat guy got a pick.”

Still, this one came down to turnovers with Cutler leading the way.

"I would rather save that for tomorrow," Tresman said of Cutler's interceptions. "We all saw them out there. I think the tape will show there were times he tried to make a couple things happen, and that's part of what makes him special. I know we're all disappointed from an offensive standpoint with the three turnovers and two interceptions."
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The NFLRank project kicked off Day 2 on Tuesday as ESPN ranked the top 100 players on offense and defense, with No. 83 for the Chicago Bears making the cut at No. 82 on the list.

In the grouping of players ranked from Nos. 81 through 90, Bears tight end Martellus Bennett was the only player at the position to make the cut, registering one spot above Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris, and one slot below San Francisco offensive tackle Anthony Davis.

None of Chicago’s defensive players was ranked between 81 through 100, but more than likely some Bears are coming up.

Bennett tied for seventh in receptions (65) last season, ninth in receiving yardage (759) and 11th in touchdowns (5) among tight ends.

Surely, the gregarious Bennett won’t like where he falls in this year’s rankings. But hey, there’s always next season.

Quarterback Jay Cutler became the first player to make the list on Monday, cracking the top 100 at No. 93.
The Chicago Bears announced on Friday they have placed tight end Zach Miller, who suffered a foot injury during the second quarter of the club’s win Thursday night over the Jacksonville Jaguars, on the injured reserve while signing receiver Kofi Hughes to a one-year contract.

The severity of Miller’s injury wasn’t immediately disclosed, as he was visiting a doctor Friday undergoing an MRI exam and a CT scan as the club made the announcement.

Despite the setback, Miller was still in good spirits.

Signed by the Bears last December, Miller put together a strong showing at training camp and caught six passes for 68 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the club’s preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. That performance led to increased repetitions for the fifth-year veteran, as the club began to experiment more with two-tight end formations which featured Martellus Bennett and Miller.

“We’ll see what happens,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “You guys saw him out at practice. He had an excellent camp. Things transitioned from the practice field to the games over the last couple of weeks. That was clear. We were certainly excited about what we saw.”

Backup quarterback Jordan Palmer, who played with Miller in Jacksonville in 2012, called the tight end’s situation “heartbreaking.”

“There weren’t a lot of opportunities early, but when he got those opportunities, he made the most of them,” Palmer said after Thursday’s game. “Goes in the game last week and has six catches and two touchdowns, and we’re riding high. He’s so confident. And then to get one of those injuries; it's not a work ethic injury. It’s not that he’s out of shape or has bad technique. It’s just a total bad luck injury.”

Miller played in 29 games over his first two years in the NFL (2009-10), but since 2011, he’s participated in just four contests as injuries continue to keep him sidelined. Miller hasn’t been a part of an active roster since 2011. He spent 2012 on the injured reserve in Jacksonville, and in 2013, Miller worked with Tampa Bay in the offseason, but was waived prior to the start of the regular season.
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears announced nine players won’t suit up for their matchup Thursday against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Soldier Field.

The list includes receivers Marquess Wilson and Chris Williams, safeties Craig Steltz and Chris Conte, cornerback Isaiah Frey, center Brian de la Puente, guard Jordan Mills, tight end Dante Rosario and defensive end Willie Young.

Wilson is expected to miss time in the regular season due to a fractured collarbone, while Williams is sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered in the preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. Steltz and Conte came off the physically unable to perform list on Sunday, and it’s likely the staff wants the duo to take in more practice time before participating in a preseason outing.

Frey, meanwhile, is nursing a strained hamstring while de la Puente is sidelined with a sprained MCL.

The staff continues to exercise caution with Mills, who underwent surgery in January on a fractured metatarsal in his left foot.

Rosario was held out of practice Tuesday due to what Bears coach Marc Trestman called calf soreness.

It’s unknown why the Bears plan to hold out Young.

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