The controversy over the knee injury suffered by Bears quarterback Jay Cutler Sunday in a 21-14 loss at Green Bay won't be going away any time soon. But the anger may be misplaced in Chicago.
The decision to take Cutler out was made by doctors and trainers, according to Bears coach Lovie Smith. Cutler was ripped on Twitter by NFL players and fans burned his jersey in the Soldier Field parking lot. Cutler suffered a torn MCL, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The uproar seems to be excusing the mess made of the Nos. 2 and 3 quarterback spots by Smith. Todd Collins (a 16-year veteran) was listed as No. 2 despite completing 10 of 27 passes for 68 yards with 0 touchdowns and 5 interceptions and a rating of 5.9 during the regular season.
Caleb Hanie, in his third year out of Colorado State, was No. 3. (Watching at a friend's house with the sound down, I must admit at first I thought it was Kerry Collins, now with the Tennessee Titans, coming in. Bet Bears fans wished that, too.)
Smith made a mess of things by inserting Hanie before the third quarter ended, which meant neither Collins nor Cutler could go back into the game, even if Hanie were hurt. Then Hanie handed off twice, which Collins easily could have done.
The Bears took a huge gamble having Collins as a backup. Hanie went into the game with a Super Bowl berth on the line with nothing but scout team practice reps. Yet the undrafted free agent completed 13 of 20 passes for 153 yards and a TD and led two scoring drives, but threw two interceptions. Who knows what Hanie might have done had he seen some real practice snaps.
Hopefully the Bears learned a lesson with Hanie, who is unsigned for 2011 but seems like a talent worth developing. Starting 28 games in college, Hanie finished his career ranked second in Colorado State history in completion percentage (61.0), third in passing yards (6,337) and in TD passes (39).
Smith went into the season on the hotseat. The way it ended won't help his reputation, even if the Bears did reach the championship game....
The controversy might not loom nearly so large today if nose tackle B.J. Raji had had the ball stripped away after his interception and 18-yard TD return gave the Packers a 21-7 lead. Great call by defensive coordinator Dom Capers to drop Raji into coverage, bad ball security....
The howling is nearly as loud in Jets' country over the play-calling during a goal-line stand in the Steelers' 24-19 triumph.
On second-and-goal from the 1 in the fourth quarter, quarterback Mark Sanchez threw incomplete twice, then LaDainian Tomlinson was stuffed on a fourth-down run. Instead of running Shonn Greene three times, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and coach Rex Ryan out-thought themselves. Sanchez said there were ongoing problems with the headsets, another reason he should have handed the ball to Greene....
Good to see former Browns safety Brodney Pool intercept a Ben Roethlisberger pass at the Jets' 5. Pool started 12 games for the Jets in the regular season and recorded 11 passes defensed, an interception and a forced fumble. Many in Cleveland thought multiple concussions would end Pool's career....
Most surprising aspect to me of the Jets-Steelers game was the Jets' poor run defense in the first half, when Rashard Mendenhall picked up 95 of his 121 yards. As for Packers-Bears, I loved the Packers' decision to come out throwing to take the early lead....
Browns center Alex Mack will be going to the Pro Bowl as a substitute....
Linebacker Ross Homan is the only Ohio State representative in this week's Senior Bowl. Homan, a first team All-Big Ten pick and three-year starter, totaled 72 tackles, two tackles for loss and one interception on the year, including a team-high nine tackles in the Sugar Bowl.
Homan is ranked as the fifth-best inside linebacker by Scouts Inc. on ESPN.com. The same list has Cameron Heyward as the sixth-best defensive end (going 24th overall) and Justin Boren as the ninth-best guard. Those are the highest rankings for OSU's draft class.
The hiring of Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins is not going over well in the Miami newspapers. Here's what the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero had to say about it:
If rookie receiver Antonio Brown is any indication, the Steelers just keeping turning over rocks and finding good players. Brown followed his ball-on-helmet catch against Baltimore with a 14-yard reception that enabled the Steelers to run out the clock against the Jets.
Brown was a sixth-round draft choice from Central Michigan. He will be one of 15 players from the Mid-American Conference in the Super Bowl.
In the Steelers-Packers Super Bowl showdown on Feb. 6, the MAC is tied with the Big Ten for second-most players, trailing only the Southeastern Conference's 18.
According to the MAC, the Packers have nine -- WR Greg Jennings (Western Michigan), RB James Starks (Buffalo), DT Cullen Jenkins (Central Michigan), TE Tom Crabtree (Miami), DB Josh Gordy (Central Michigan), OL T.J. Lang (Eastern Michigan), S Atari Bigby (Central Florida), LB Frank Zombo (Central Michigan) and Diyral Briggs (Bowling Green).
There are six MAC products on the Steelers roster -- QB Ben Roethlisberger (Miami), LB James Harrison (Kent State), QB Charlie Batch (Eastern Michigan), Brown, K Shaun Suisham (Bowling Green) and QB Byron Leftwich (Marshall).
Todd McShay of Scouts Inc. had this to say on ESPN.com about Copley High School product Delone Carter, the offensive MVP of last weekend's East-West Shrine Game: "Of all the running backs here, Carter showed the most quickness and was the most consistent runner. While he still has weaknesses in his game -- he dances around too much at times and is not a great pass catcher -- he runs hard. He's very competitive and fights for extra yards. Much more than we saw on tape, he also showed a good initial burst to turn the corner. We gave him a fourth-round grade off game tape and if nothing else, he showed he is worth of being picking in the mid-rounds after this week.''