How Did Caleb Hanie's First Start Shake Out against the Raiders?

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Bear fans were expecting the magic Caleb Hanie displayed in the NFC Championship game last January against the Packers, they got something else. Caleb Hanie threw 3 interceptions and overall played a decent game against the Raiders yesterday. Were our expectations too high? Did Hanie perform just fine for his first NFL start ever? Are we as a fan base too critical? Let's delve into those questions. 

First off Caleb Hanie was 18 of 36 for 254 yards, 2 TD's, and 3 interceptions. He added 5 carries for 50 yards on the ground. His mobility contributed to several very nice runs. One of which came on a 3rd and 18, which he scrambled and picked up the first down with a gain of 24 yards. As I watched that play live, my jaw dropped to the floor. If Hanie can develop his throwing skills, he will be a very valuable asset to have at Quarterback. Having the ability to pick up 24 yards on 3rd down and 18 is great. It appears he has the perfect medium of when to stick with the designed routes, and when to scramble. That is one huge plus for Hanie. 

As far as his interceptions go, he didn't throw any in the 2nd half of the game. That is one plus. One huge negative was he had 3 1st half interceptions. Two of which were errant passes and the 3rd was an abysmal playcall at the goalline. Instead of punching it in with Forte or Marion Barber, we decide to call a roll-out, TE screen pass that would get picked off. Luckily Lance Louis sprinted down the field to stop the touchdown. Pretty admirable considering he's our right guard. 

His two touchdown passes were pretty nice. One of them came on a short pass to Kellen Davis which he went through all of his progressions to find Davis coming across the formation in the end zone. The second of which was a BOMB to Johnny Knox which almost reminded me of a Rex Grossman heave. 

Hopefully the jitters are out and Hanie performs well against the Kansas City Chiefs next week. I would give him a C-, which is about what you would expect for a 1st career start. He has a lot of potential, let's hope it strings all together. We need to give him more help and not allow Forte to have less than 25 carries again. 

Bears Fall to Raiders 25-20 in Oakland without Cutler

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If you were expecting Caleb Hanie to perform like Dan Marino, chances are you wound up disappointed. The Bears lost to the Oakland Raiders 25-20 in Oakland, in their first game of the season without Jay Cutler. Cutler is out for the foreseeable future with a broken thumb on his passing hand. Due to this injury, back-up QB Caleb Hanie is now the starter. Despite being thrusted into the spotlight, Sebastian Janikowski of the Raiders stole the show. 

Janikowski belted a team record six field goals in the 25-20 victory. The Raiders benefited from great field position coming off 3 interceptions from Hanie and the rangy leg of Janikowski. Carson Palmer appeared a little more comfortable as he threw for 301 yards. Michael Bush also had a big 4th quarter TD. The defense could only do so much with the offense sputtering and Hanie turning the ball over. For his first start he didn't play so bad. He was really shaky in the first half, while he played much more mature in the 2nd half. 

Hanie was 18 of 35 for 254 yards and 2 TD's. He had 3 interceptions, 2 of which were misfires, and 1 was an awful playcall by Mike Martz near the goal-line (Really, a TE screen from 12 yards out?). He had a 58.5 passer rating on the day and Bear fans are hoping he plays a little better next week against the Chiefs. One startling fact about the game, Matt Forte only had 12 carries. WHY!!!!!????? 

Forte had 12 carries for 59 yards, and Marion Barber had 10 carries for 63 yards. If we want to win games with Hanie, we need to get Forte the ball at least 25 times a game. It's nice to see Barber contributing but Forte is where we win ball games. Johnny Knox had a breakout game with 4 catches for 145 yards and 1 TD. Kellen Davis caught 2 passes for 25 yards and 1 TD. 

Defensively Julius Peppers had 2 sacks on the day on Carson Palmer, it's nice to see Peppers getting into the mix a little more. Also Corey Graham had an interception for the 3rd straight game. 

The Bears face the Kansas City Chiefs next week at 1:00 PM EST

Jay Cutler Expected to Miss 6-8 Weeks with Broken Thumb on Throwing Hand

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Reports are coming out that Bears QB Jay Cutler has a broken thumb on his throwing hand and could be done for the season. The extent of the break isn't known but it does require surgery. The recovery frame for similar injuries is 6-8 weeks. This could put Cutler back into the line-up if the Bears were to make the playoffs or around Week 17's match-up vs the Vikings. Riding a 5 game winning streak, losing your franchise QB for the remainder of the games in a heated playoff run with Detroit could be very troubling. Let’s hope for the best.

The injury occurred on the 4th quarter interception by Antoine Cason. Cutler helped prevent a defensive touchdown on the play by slowing Cason down along the right sideline while Matt Forte caught up to push him out of bounds. Cutler was knocked to the ground by Chargers LB Donald Butler with 10:03 left in the game.

He did play the rest of the game and even completed 2 passes after the injury. Many questioned his toughness last January but, those people should be fairly quiet now. Cutler endured the pain of a broken thumb and remained in the game. Behind Cutler, is the Colorado State product Caleb Hanie. Hanie appeared in relief for Cutler during the NFC Championship game he was injured in last January and performed well.

Today Lovie Smith just took the podium for a press conference to address the injured thumb of Bears QB Jay Cutler. Immediately Lovie Smith addressed the adversity the Bears had faced this season after starting 2-3 on their way to a 7-3 record. Smith announced that Cutler is out for an extended period of time. The organization plans to schedule surgery on Cutler’s thumb as soon as possible.

The plan is to get Cutler back at the end of the regular season. Given the general timeframe of an injury of this magnitude, the Bears could use the Week 17 match-up against the Vikings as a tune-up game for Cutler on January 1st. Caleb Hanie was announced as the starting QB. Backing him is currently rookie Nathan Enderle but the Bears plan to sign a veteran Quarterback to back Hanie up for an emergency situation

Martz has dealt with losing a Quarterback in his system before, such as in 1999 when Trent Green got injured. He was replaced by a guy you may have heard of, Kurt Warner.

 

Bears Impress in 31-20 Victory over Rivers' Chargers

Nam Y. Huh - AP

Despite winning against the Chargers in a very impressive fashion a dark cloud sits over the football team's current 5 game winning streak. Jay Cutler has a broken thumb on his throwing hand so many fans are forgetting the very impressive win we just had over a solid football team. Our next article will delve more into Cutler and his injury but let's discuss the game. 

A lot of fans and analysts didn't know how Phillip Rivers would perform against the Bears defense. Up until the 4th quarter, Rivers played like the Rivers during the 2010 season. His two 4th quarter interceptions, with good field position, took his team completely out of the game. Jay Cutler outperformed Rivers by the end of the game. Jay Cutler was 18 for 31 for 286 yards, 2 TD's, and 1 INT. The interception came on a play where Cutler threw to Johnny Knox on a slant and Knox fell down. Antoine Cason intercepted the pass and while trying to push him out of bounds Cutler hit his throwing hand twice while attempting to tackle Cason. After the game it was broken and determined that he needed surgery. Cutler did finish the game with the injury and went 2 for 2 passing in the 4th quarter. He also had a rushing TD on the day in which he leaped over the pile for the score. 

For the most part Matt Forte was bottled up but, only because San Diego played him smart. They put 8 in the box and forced Cutler to beat them in the air...and he did. Forte had 20 carries for 57 yards. His longest carry of the day was 13 yards. Roy Williams had a small "coming out" type of game with 5 catches for 62 yards. An unfamiliar face in Johnny Knox came up with 3 catches for 97 yards and 1 TD. Earl Bennett continued to prove reliable as he had 3 catches for 75 yards. While offensively the Bears impressed, defensively they did as well. Corey Graham and Major Wright both had huge 4th quarter interceptions. Graham's pick sealed the game for the Bears to run the clock out. Here are some quick observations that we jotted down during the game. 

  • Despite the Chargers stacking 8 in the box and forcing the Bears to throw, they didn't give up on the run game. That says a lot about the progression of Mike Martz ability to select plays. Hats off to him for keeping at it. 
  • Offensive line played a great game today. They allowed 0 sacks and gave Cutler plenty of time to carve up the San Diego secondary. 
  • The defense performed really well in the 2nd half. They gave up a lot of big plays in the 1st half but adjusted. 
  • Charles Tillman was matched up with Vincent Jackson and V-JAX had 7 catches for 165 yards and 1 TD. After being beat for the TD Charles Tillman made up for it by punching the ball out of Ryan Mathews' arms for a Chicago Bears fumble recovery. Tillman is the best at punching balls out of ball carriers' arms. Tillman shut down Calvin Johnson last week but seemed to need help on V-JAX. 
  • Special teams overall played well but had a couple blunders. Two holding calls on long returns by Devin Hester and a miscue on a fake punt pass late in the call. Podlesh saw an all out block called and threw a pass to a wide open Craig Steltz. The ball grazed the out-stretched hands of Steltz for a turnover on downs. Giving Phillip Rivers the ball down by 11 with 4 minutes to go at the 50 is never good. Luckily our defense got us the ball back quick via a Major Wright interception. 
Next week Caleb Hanie will be our starting Quarterback as we head to Oakland to face the Raiders. 


Bears Place Guard Chris Williams on Injured Reserve with Wrist Injury

AP Photo

After a 37-13 trumping of a division opponent fans have a lot to be excited about. Then we found out some very disheartening news. Starting offensive guard Chris Williams has been placed on Injured Reserve with a wrist injury. Earlier in the season many fans were concerned with the play of the offensive line, this included Williams. Over the course of the next couple weeks, Matt Forte had a coming out party and the offensive line could run the ball at will. 

Williams has a dislocated left wrist that required immediate surgery following halftime of the Bears game on Sunday. Lovie Smith told fans the following...

"Chris Williams has been playing good football, but with that wrist injury we'll put him on injured reserve and he'll miss the rest of the season, which is a tough break for us and a tough break for Chris"

 The injury is very similar to the wrist injury that sidelines Brian Urlacher for the entire season in 2009. Urlacher came out immediately upon the injury. Chris Williams suffered the injury sometime in the 1st half and continued to play until halftime. At the start of the season many fans were starting to believe Williams may be a bust. He changed the minds of every Bear fan with his play so far this season. Williams moved to the interior line as opposed to tackle and it has worked tremendously thus far. 
 
The possible candidates to replace Chris Williams are...
 
  • Edwin Williams
  • Frank Omiyale
  • Lance Louis (If Carimi returns to RT, move Louis back to LG)
On the issue of who would start this week against San Diego, Lovie Smith said the following....
 

"We don't usually talk about who is going to start this early in the week, but if Edwin ends up being the starter there, we'll be pretty excited about that"

 

Bears Crush Lions 37-13 in Brawl Filled, Battle of Division Opponents

AP Photo

Had you told me before the game that the Bears would crush the Lions 37-13 and Matt Stafford would play abysmal, I would say you're lying. The Bears defeated the Lions in a 37-13 contest that was filled with plenty of malicious hits and penalties. There were plenty of "dirty" hits and overall the game was very scrappy. A game like that is why I am a football fan, there was plenty of passion on both sides. 

The Bears started off great in this game forcing a fumble during the Lions’ first possession. They scored a touchdown from that turnover and then forced another fumble and scored a field goal to jump out 10-0 early. Keep in mind that that the Lions came into this game as one of the best teams turnover wise with a +13 turnover ratio. The Bears said when asked about the Lions low amount of turnovers, “We don’t just take turnovers when the other team makes them, we force turnovers” When they said this they were stating that they didn’t care about the stats and knew that they could force the Lions to turn the ball over, which they did six times in this game.

The Bears used the early lead and never looked back. There were times in the first half when they seemed to get a little shaky, but they never gave up the lead and in the second half they turned the game around with two pick sixes in a row and two other interceptions later in the half.

During one of the interceptions, Matthew Stafford dragged DJ Moore to the ground by his helmet and in response, DJ Moore went after Stafford and started a fight. DJ Moore was kicked out of the game, but Stafford was not. After the game DJ Moore had this to say about the fight, “When you are going after my livelihood, my neck and you trying to hurt me, I just can’t let that go.”

Devin Hester was great in this game, with two good returns including one 82 yard return for a touchdown. He did leave the game early, but should be back next week. Forte had a good game with 18 attempts for 64 yards and one touchdown.

The running game being present again is a big reason why the Bears are winning games again. In the last four games, which the Bears have won, Forte has 18 carries, 24 carries, 25 carries, and 17 carries. Barber has also been present in these games and helped a lot yesterday during the third and fourth quarter. Earl Bennett showed up big with 6 catches for 81 yards on the day. It must be the orange cleats! 

The Bears are back to playing Bears football. This game was a perfect example of Bears football. Good defense that causes turnovers, running the ball, and Cutler being a threat. Defense comes first, then running the ball, and having Cutler is good for the passing game which is the third priority. If the Bears keep playing their game, they can keep winning games. The defense has to stay tough, Forte has to continue being fantastic, and Cutler has to keep his good steady pace.

The only downside to this trumping of a division opponent is that Chris Williams, starting guard was placed on injured reserve. Williams has underwent wrist surgery, similar to Urlacher's season-ending injury 2 seasons ago. The Bears will now play the entire AFC West division in a straight 4 game sweep. First up is the San Diego Chargers. 

Devin Hester Hobbles Off Field with Ankle Injury Late in 4th Quarter

David Fearn/Action Plus/Icon SMI

The Bears could be without the best returner the NFL has ever seen. Devin Hester came out of the game against the Philadelphia Eagles late in the 4th quarter with an ankle injury. Hester while trying to crack block down on a safety in the box, seems to have hurt his ankle. As Hester hobbled off the field, he put no pressure on his left foot and went directly to the Bears' bench. 

At that point in the game you could say Philadelphia effectively shut Devin Hester down. Hester was challenged all game and didn't answer the call. He had just 1 catch for 12 yards on offense and 29 return yards on 4 returns (3 kick, 1 punt). Johnny Knox also didn't fair well against the Eagles kick coverage as he had 2 returns for 10 yards. Was Hester playing bad, or were the Eagles just playing good on Special Teams last night? 

Hester was questionable to return after the injury. It will be interesting to see how this week plays out to see if Hester will play against the Lions this upcoming Sunday. It doesn't help that the Bears are on a short week after playing the Monday night game and will be playing in just 5 days from now. While it's great as a fan to have a quick turn around after a game, for injured players it isn't as good. They will have less time to rehab their injuries and get back healthy.

If any news becomes available on Hester's status, check back here for updates! 

Do you think Devin Hester will play this Sunday? Let us know in the comments section below! 

 

 

Chicago Bears Improve to 5-3 with 30-24 Victory Over Eagles

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A lot of analysts and fans considered this a fork in the road for the Bears. With Detroit and Green Bay playing good football with a lead, it would be hard for the Bears to make it into the playoffs had they lost this game. Many picked against them including 7 of 8 Monday Night Football Analysts. The only analyst to pick the Bears to win against the Eagles was Da Coach, Mike Ditka. The Bears came away with a 30-24 victory over the Eagles. All the more impressive, it was a road victory. 

With the Bears improving to 5-3, they can tie for 2nd place in the NFC North with a victory next Sunday at Soldier Field over the Lions. The Detroit Lions will be coming off their bye week at 6-2. I expect analysts to pick against the Bears once again, so the Bears can prove them wrong. 

What exactly went right for the Bears? In a night where LeSean McCoy couldn't be tackled, Matt Forte picked up big yards but fumbled twice, points were hard to come by. The Bears sputtered but every couple series would explode with big plays. Most of these coming in the form of Matt Forte runs or clutch Earl Bennett receptions on 3rd downs. Here is a list of my observations from the game. 

  • Matt Forte is very good. Despite losing 2 fumbles, 1 before halftime for an easy TD to tie it up at 10-10, he is the reason we won the game. The Eagles defense is full of ball hawks like Asomugha and Samuel, having our run game show up helped Cutler tremendously. Forte rattled off 133 yards on 24 carries. 
  • Robbie Gould had 3 Field Goals on the night, the 3rd coming from 22 yards out to extend the Bears lead to 30-24 with 4 minutes left to play. 
  • Bears came up with huge plays when they needed them. Lance Briggs chasing Vick down from behind, Major Wright's interception, stopping Philly on downs with 2 minutes to go to seal the victory. 
  • Biggest reason the Bears won? Eagles idiocy. Around mid-field the Eagles tried a fake punt where rookie punter Chas Henry misfired to a wide open Colt Anderson. This gave the Bears the ball at mid-field up 27-24 with 9 minutes remaining. Although even if the Bears were up 27-24, they still stopped the Eagles on downs before field goal ranges. 
  • The tides of the game turned in the Eagles' favor after LeSean McCoy had a very impressive 33 yard touchdown run. This gave the Eagles their first lead of the game at 24-17 with 6 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. 
  • Earl Bennet's return was huge for the passing game. He had 5 catches for 95 yards and a very important touchdown in the 2nd half. Expect Cutler to keep up his great play with Bennett back in the passing game. On the other hand despite a couple nice catches (3 catches for 46 yards), Roy Williams had an abysmal game. He dropped a bomb from Cutler when the Bears were backed up in own endzone. He also had another seemingly easy to catch drop. Fans' patience are wearing thin on Williams. Bennett's return highlighted Roy's miscues. 
  • Michael Vick was held without a score. Vick has always played poorly against the Bears. He is now 0-4 lifetime against the Monsters of the Midway. If teams stay true to their pass rush lanes, Vick is easy to contain. You gotta make him throw the ball teams! 
  • Cutler was 18 of 32 for 208 yards and 2 TD's. He wasn't helped much as he had several drops *looking at you Roy Williams*. It's amazing what Cutler can do when he has time to throw! 
  • Bears offensive gave up zero sacks. I have nothing witty to say here but holy cow! First time of the season and it felt great! 
  • Devin Hester was shut down. Besides 1 catch for 12 yards, he did nothing in the return game despite having a couple opportunities to house one. Before the game Andy Reid said he didn't plan on kicking to him but they did. Late in the game Hester hobbled off the field with an ankle injury. 
Bears play the Detroit Lions next Sunday at Soldier Field. 

 

 

Bears Come out of Bye Week Blues to Face Red Hot Philly

After a nice win over the Tampa Bay Bucs in London, the Bears would enter hibernation. Fans have been feeling the bye week blues all week long and, I must say it is definitely the worst week of the year. The morning after Bears' games, the thing that keeps me going all week at work is knowing on Sunday (or in some cases Monday) I will get to see my beloved Bears take the field again. Not this week. 

After waiting an entire week knowing I wouldn't get to watch the Bears, not only did my psyche suffer but so did my fantasy football team! Entering this week I was undefeated thanks to having Matt Forte as my starting RB. Without his production my team suffered and I received my first loss of the season. Fantasy owners will be happy to know that the workhorse, Matt Forte, will be back in action this Monday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. 

The Bears (4-3) coming off a bye week will face the Philadelphia Eagles (3-4). While the Bears will be playing fresh, the Eagles are coming off a blowout victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. La'Sean McCoy and Mike Vick will play host to the Bears in Philadelphia. Philly is ranked #1 in total yards per game (449.3), 9th in points (25.6), and 1st in rushing yards (179.9). With impressive averages such as those, the Bears defense will be in store for it's biggest test of the season. Chris Conte, Major Wright, and Brandon Meriweather really need to step their game up this week or else DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin could have career days. 

Last season the Eagles entered Soldier Field as the hottest team in the NFL. Mike Vick was playing incredible football and had yet to throw an interception on the season. Until the Bears pass rush led by Peppers and Idonije got to him and caused him to throw an errant pass to the chest of Chris Harris. Mike Vick was taken out of his element early in the game and, if the Bears can repeat that we may very well be looking at a W this week. 

I feel as if this is the biggest game of the season for us. We're on a 2 game winning streak and the Eagles are trying to redeem themselves after starting out 2-4. Their win over Dallas was the first resemblance of last year's powerful team that we have seen. They come into the game with momentum. 

Let's get a win Bears! 

Veteran Safety Chris Harris Released by Bears

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Only 5 days after starting against the Tampa Bay Bucs in London, Chris Harris has been released by the Bears. Vaugn McClure of the Chicago Tribune was the first to report the news on Twitter this morning with the following tweets...

League sources tell me Bears veteran safety Chris Harris has been released.

Harris just started for the Bears against Tampa Bay. He asked for and was granted permission to seek a trade, but decided to stick it out.

This report lined up perfectly with the team announcing they brought in 2 safeties for workouts this week. Former 2nd round pick in 2009 Darcell Bath and Tom Nelson. It appears to be the doing of Chris Harris, why would the Bears willingly release Harris when the guy they scrape around for to replace him as the back-up won't even be half as good? 

While not knowing what is going on behind the scenes at Halas Hall, my gut is telling me it isn't a blunder by the front office. This sounds like it's completely driven by the player. The Bears have had some blunders in the past but releasing a starting safety 5 days after he made a solid start isn't on the list. 

Just 5 days ago Chris Harris had an average game, nothing good or nothing bad. He compiled 3 tackles on the day. 

Chris Harris confirmed it on his twitter when he tweeted the following....

I was just released this morning by the Bears. Thank u for the opp to play football n do what I luv. I'm looking toward my next venture