September 13, 2012
Bears have reason to be confident in Green Bay
By MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency
Jay Cutler is accustomed to being the centre of attention, but he has actually spent the week suggesting fans move their focus from him to his wideouts as he barks out the snap count in Thursday matchup with the Green Bay Packers.
Cutler sounds like a proud father as he discusses the physicality his new wideouts possess. A quick look back at Cutler’s past attempts to build any kind of offensive rhythm at Lambeau explains why.
Just to be nice, let’s just say Cutler and his receivers have been like that red-faced traveller at O’Hare: Unable to connect.
A harsher, more accurate description would be paralyzed.
As a quarterback if your receivers can’t get off the line, you are painfully limited.
And that has been the case for the Bears in the past who were manhandled by Packers defensive backs before they could ever get into their routes.
So when Cutler smiles at the camera and offers the Packers secondary a flippant “good luck” when he’s asked if he’s worried his receivers are in for another beating, you can excuse the cockiness just a little bit.
What Cutler has this year that he has never really had are two beast wideouts in veteran Brandon Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery. They are going to fight their way through any early bumping in that five-yard territory and they’re just as likely to leave a defender in their tracks if any should try and one with either.
Marshall, at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, and Jeffery, at 6-foot-3 and 213, aren’t the kind of receivers that allow themselves to manhandled.
“We’ve got some dudes that, if you’re gonna get up in their face, even our speed guys are gonna get around them, and our big guys are gonna throw and go,” Cutler said. “So we invite press coverage. We invite man (coverage). If we get that type of game, our guys outside have to make some plays for us.”
That ability to match the physicality of the likes of Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and Charles Woodson has made this game a very tough one to handicap. The inclination is to go with the Packers at home. Can we seriously expect the might Pack to go 0-2 at home to start the year?
But then these aren’t the same old Bears.
These Bears can now beat you any number of ways. Matt Forte, who last year was pretty much the entire Bears offence either playing pitch and catch with Cutler or taking handoffs from him, not only has help with an improved receiving corps but he has got Michael Bush back there to spell him in the backfield and keep him fresh.
Cutler knows all this and it explains why he is being so overtly cocky this week.
“I think there’s a big difference in what we’re doing offensively,” he said. “This is a totally different scheme and mentality and direction of where we’re going offensively,” Cutler said. “But we have to be careful. We’ve only played one game. We don’t have a lot on tape yet, so we’ve got to continue to work hard.
“But there’s something to be said for being confident about what you’re doing, having a feel for what you’re doing, and going out there and expecting to do good. That’s what we try and instill in these guys.”
REAL TRAGEDY FOR BILLS
As their fans try to deal with the emotional letdown of an abysmal season opener, Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has some bigger real-life issues to deal with.
The third-overall pick in the 2011 draft was back home in Birmingham, Ala., Tuesday after learning his brother Simeon Gilmore, 19, was one of three young men who died in a triple homicide on Sunday in Pelham, Ala.
Obviously football goes on the backburner for this young man for the time being.
The Packers may be without a key piece in its own offence this week. Wide receiver Greg Jennings has been listed as doubtful for Thursday’s game ... It may have just been a maintenance day — although it’s awfully early in the season for one of those — but Detroit Lions wideout Calvin Johnson sat out practice on Tuesday ... NFL teams are continually bringing in players for workouts. But the New England Patriots brought in QB Curtis Painter, most recently of the Indianapolis Colts. That’s a bit of a head scratcher ... The Saints are hurting at wide receiver at the moment and that has caused them to bring back Greg Camarillo, a one-time Dolphins receiver who was cut by the Saints in August. Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Adrian Arrington are all dealing with various injuries ... If Mario Williams needs any more motivation beyond the beating he has taken in the press this past week for his invisibility in the Jets loss, he need look no further than former teammate J.J. Watt. Watt was asked by ProFootball Talk if he missed his former teammate. “I’ll miss him in the locker room, but not on the field,” Watt said.
DRIVER WANTS BIGGER ROLE
Randall Cobb’s gain has meant a little pain for veteran Donald Driver.
With Cobb’s role in the Green Bay offence growing this year, Driver’s playing time has come way down.
In Sunday’s loss to San Francisco he only got on the field for the final three plays of the game and while he’s trying to be a good team player about it, Driver can’t help but be a little frustrated.
“I played in this league a long time and not to play is tough,” Driver told reporters after practice Tuesday. “No one expects it to happen, but if it happens you deal with it. I’m dealing with it in a good way.”
His quarterback is basically telling him not to read too much into the first game.
“This is a team that has a lot of guys that can make plays,” Aaron Rodgers said. “It’s a long season, as we saw with last season, maybe Game 1, some people didn’t get as many balls as they wanted to. But you realize by the end of the season those guys are all going to be called on at different times to make plays.”
MADDEN IN LOVE WITH RG3
Every time you think you’re getting tired of John Madden’s schtik and are ready to give up on him, he comes out with a doozy like this and pulls you right back in.
In one short sentence Madden jumped on the Robert Griffin III praise bus and then — and this was the best part — threw Tim Tebow under the bus.
“You know, the thing that he did that was so amazing was he reminded me — and I don’t mean to throw names around — but he reminded me of a Tim Tebow that can pass,” Madden said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “You know, Tim Tebow, when he was playing for Denver last year, he would tend to freeze the defences, because they weren’t sure if it was run or pass, if he was gonna hand off or run. I mean, he couldn’t pass like RGIII — (Griffin) can throw the ball — but he has a tendency to freeze the defence.”
Madden though wasn’t done praising Griffin, the No. 2 pick in the draft this year behind Andrew Luck.
“It’s darn near an impossible task to open up and play the Saints in their place,” Madden said. “I mean, no one wins down there, so I didn’t expect him to do anything like he did. But I did want to see him, and I wanted to see what he had. And at some point, I have to admit that I said this, it just came out, I said RGIII’s the best player in the NFL today. That’s what I really thought. Those words did come out.”
DWYER DA MAN PITTSBURGH
With Rashard Mendenhall not quite ready for the pounding, the Pittsburgh Stealers are talking about getting quite a bit younger at the position this weekend.
Jonathan Dwyer, a 2010 draft pick who has spent most of the past two seasons watching Mendenhall and Isaac Redman carry the football, made an impression on head coach Mike Tomlin in the pre-season and again Sunday night in a season-opening loss in Denver.
Dwyer carried the ball nine times for 43 yards.
The rest of the Pittsburgh rushers, including starter Redman, totalled 32 yards on 17 carries.
“I thought Jonathan Dwyer provided a spark play and represented himself well and will probably get an increased opportunity because of it,” Tomlin told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette earlier this week.
Tomlin did not go so far as to say Dwyer would get the start, but his remarks spoke to how disappointed he is with the Pittsburgh running game at the moment.
PHILLY FANS WILL LOVE THIS ...
In the city where they boo safe landings and Santa Claus, rowdy fans who get themselves tossed out of a football game will now have to pay for and take an online course before they are allowed entrance to the stadium on subsequent visits.
The city we’re talking about is Philadelphia and this should go over about as well as a rancid cheesesteak.
It’s actually a league-wide initiative that is already in effect at the Meadowlands and Foxboro. Having started on the road this season, the fine folks in Philly get their first taste of it this weekend when Lincoln Financial Field and the Eagles play host to the Baltimore Ravens.
The online course is apparently four hours long and costs $55. Teams are tacking on an additional amount that will be donated to a charity of the the team’s choosing.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving will be he Eagles charity of choice.
So far the maximum penalty in the others cities is $100.
“It causes the person, hopefully, to think about what happened,” said Leonard Bonacci, the Eagles’ vice president of event operations and event services.
Yeah, we’re sure that’s how they will read it in Philly.