Third and one: Bears
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
After Chicago’s 21-15 loss to Green Bay, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:
- The Bears were 0-7 in games that linebacker Brian Urlacher missed for injury during the 2004 season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, they gave up an average of about 10 additional points in the games they played without him. For better or worse, I don’t think his season-ending wrist injury will impact the Bears that dramatically this season. Their linebacker corps revolves now around Lance Briggs, and I think most football people would choose him if they had to take one or the other. The Bears plan to sign free agent linebacker Tim Shaw for depth purposes, so for now it appears they will leave Briggs on the weak side and start Hunter Hillenmeyer in Urlacher’s spot. Update: Shaw's signing has been announced.
- The Bears are a team that gets off the bus running, as coach Lovie Smith likes to say. That’s why I was among those surprised when they called 23 passing plays in the first half against only 10 runs. You could make an argument that you don’t trade for a gunslinging quarterback to hand off the ball 50 times per game. But Jay Cutler clearly wasn’t settled in during the early going Sunday night. When that was clear, I was surprised the Bears didn’t pull back and rely more on Matt Forte.
- As for Cutler: Ugh. The interceptions were bad, but I thought he was too emotional -- especially for a quarterback -- in the first half. I know that’s part of his reputation, but frankly, it’s something he might need to work on. NBC’s cameras caught him shoving a Packers defender who got his hands on him after he threw the ball. Cutler screamed at the player before heading off toward the sideline. I’m all for intensity, but if a quarterback is emotionally out of control, how can the rest of the team play with composure?
And here is one question I’m still asking:
Why can’t more players be like Patrick Mannelly? The Bears long snapper owned up to a mistake that cost his team three points, saying he felt “stupid” for checking to a fake punt when he believed the Packers had 12 men on the field in the fourth quarter. It’s not often that a long snapper is involved in that crucial of a play, but it’s also not often when a player owns up so cleanly to a mistake.