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Tag:Caleb Hanie
Posted on: December 18, 2011 11:55 am
Edited on: December 18, 2011 1:19 pm
 

Bears Matt Forte won't return until he's 100%

Chicago was was 7-3 on Nov. 20. Now they're 7-6 with two of their best offensive players on out with injuries. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

On November 20, the Bears beat the Chargers to win their fifth game in a row. Their record stood at 7-3, and they appeared headed for a wild-card berth. But quarterback Jay Cutler sustained a broken thumb on his throwing hand against San Diego and in the three weeks since the Bears, with Caleb Hanie under center, are 0-3. Not helping: the team's second-best offensive weapon, running back Matt Forte, went down with a knee injury on December 4 and it's not clear when he'll return to the field.

"Day to day, I just see how it feels," Forte told ESPNChicago.com on Saturday. "It's always really stiff in the morning because I've been asleep. It hurts in the morning, but once I get warmed up, I just try to see how it feels. I've been doing some straight-ahead jogging this week which has been OK, but I'm nowhere near 100 percent. So it's not looking good for next week, I know that. ...

"These injuries, they usually take four to six weeks [to heal] they say," Forte said. "And this will only be week three. I'm not going to rush to get back on the field and play while I'm hurt, because you're not at 100 percent you may injure it even more if you do that."

The Bears need Forte in the worst way and it doesn't look like he'll be available to help them in time for a late playoff push. And that leads us to this: does that prove Forte's worth to the front office? He's in the last year of his rookie deal and is looking for a new contract, one that hadn't come before his December 4 injury.

Conventional wisdom suggests that Forte's productivity and his importance to the organization are reasons enough to keep him in Chicago. But months after the Titans backed up the truck to pay Chris Johnson only to watch him turn into one of the league's worst backs should also serve as a stark reminder that running backs, in general, are fungible.

Then again, how Chicago plays over the final three games of the regular season could demonstrate just how important Forte is to this offense. And as it stands, he has no intention of returning to the lineup until he's completely healthy.

"You got to make that decision personally," Forte said. "My mindset is kind of set on that. I'm not going to really go out there and play unless I'm 100 percent and I can run straight ahead and sprint and make cuts, because as a running back you have to make people miss. You can't just take on hits and get pounded on. You'll have more injuries to rehab."

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Posted on: December 15, 2011 10:15 am
 

Cutler says 'outside chance' he plays vs. Packers

Chicago was on a five-game winning streak before Cutler went down. They're 0-3 since. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Jay Cutler hasn't played since he broke the thumb on his throwing hand in Week 11, a 31-20 win over the Chargers that took the Bears to 7-3 and second place in the NFC North. Now, nearly four weeks later, Chicago is 7-6 (0-3 with Caleb Hanie), and seventh in a six-team playoff race.

The Bears' remaining schedule: Seattle, at Green Bay, at Minnesota. To have a shot at the postseason they'll need to win out, and clearly, Cutler, who was riding a five-game winning streak when he was injured, gives them the best chance to do that.

But to paraphrase Rick Pitino: Jay ain't walking through that door … at least not this week. Cutler appeared on “Waddle & Silvy” radio show Wednesday and said he might return for the Packers game in Week 16.

"I'll say outside," he said, via CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Gene Chamberlain. "I wouldn't say it's good or definite or a real possibility, but there's always a chance."

Yep, he's telling you there's a chance

Cutler also said that last week in Denver he threw a football for the first time since having surgery on his thumb.

"It’s kind of like trying to relearn it," he said. "The ball was a little foreign in my hands. It’s a little bit stiff. And those pins in there, that adds a little bit of a shooting pain. In the next few weeks we have to figure out once all the swelling’s going whether I can manage with these pins or we’re going to have to pull them."

If Cutler doesn't play, then Hanie will be the starter. And while he's had a rough go of it in that role (the nadir, without a doubt: losing to Tyler Palko and the Chiefs in Week 13), Hanie showed improvement during the Bears' overtime loss to the Broncos last Sunday.

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz agrees.

"[Young quaterbacks] just get in there and there's a sense and they just go," he said of Hanie's overtime performance," he said according to Chamberlain. "When you mix (runs) in a little bit here and there for an inexperienced quarterback, it's harder on them until he gets a better feel for the game. And it's going to be that way until he plays more."

Here's a thought: maybe Martz' game plan should highlight Hanie's strengths -- not just in overtime but from the first series. Revolutionary stuff, we know.

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Posted on: December 11, 2011 11:53 am
 

Report: Cutler may not return in regular season

'I've said my whole career you have to be pragmatic," Martz said when asked about Chicago's offense. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Bears are 7-5 heading into Sunday's Week 14 matchup against the Broncos. As it stands, they're the fifth seed in the NFC but the Falcons, Lions and Giants are all within one game of them. And unless Chicago's offense finds a way to overcome Caleb Hanie, who replaced an injured Jay Cutler in the lineup just in time for the Bears to start losing, missing the playoffs is a real possibility.

There was the hope that Cutler's injured thumb would heal in time for him to return during the regular season. On Sunday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the organization now doesn't expect Cutler back before the playoffs. And even then, there's no certainty he'll be ready because unless he has a time machine, there's no way to advance the healing process.

With running back Matt Forte also on the shelf with a knee injury, and Hanie having thrown six picks in two games, conventional wisdom suggests a conservative offensive game plan that minimizes turnovers, and letting the Bears' defense take care of the rest.

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz has no need for convention or wisdom. Earlier in the week, he said he plans to be "more aggressive" with Hanie. The Bears probably need to go 2-2 over the final month of the season to qualify for the postseason. They're at Denver Sunday, then Seattle, at Green Bay and at Minnesota.


The Denver Broncos have won their last five straight games and hope to make it six as they host the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon. Who has the advantage in this matchup? Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game.

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Posted on: December 11, 2011 9:31 am
 

Report: Bears gauged interest in Marc Bulger

BulgerBy Josh Katzowitz

With all the talk about the Bears interest (or lack thereof) of Brett Favre -- he’s never going away people! -- and whether Chicago wanted to take its chances on signing Donovan McNabb, the organization apparently was looking at another veteran quarterback to gauge his interest in returning to the league.

That quarterback, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Dan Pompei, was former Rams starter/Ravens backup Marc Bulger. And though coach Lovie Smith has come out and said the Bears didn’t want to add another quarterback to the mix of Caleb Hanie, Nathan Enderle and Josh McCown, with Matt Forte out for the next few weeks, it makes perfect sense Chicago would want to figure out another way to get some offensive firepower.

The problem, in this case, is that Bulger simply wasn’t interested. As Kurt Warner said last August, when Bulger decided to retire in the first place, Bulger doesn’t want to play football anymore. So, when the Bears called him recently to talk to him about joining the team, he said thanks but no thanks.

Pompei also writes that the Bears DID, in fact, talk about signing McNabb. They obviously chose not to add him, but it’s not because they didn’t think he could still play the game.

Writes Pompei: “The team feels good about Caleb Hanie and did not want to send him a message they were looking to replace him. They wanted to keep Hanie focused on doing his job rather than looking over his shoulder.

“The other issue is it would have been difficult to prepare McNabb. Josh McCown needed less time and attention to integrate himself in the Bears offense because he had played for Martz before. McNabb never had played in any system remotely similar.”

But if Hanie continues his poor production of late (he’s completing 48.3 percent of his passes for six interceptions and two touchdowns since taking over for the injured Jay Cutler), the Bears might have to do something before they’re knocked out of the playoff race for good.

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Posted on: December 10, 2011 4:34 pm
 

For the gambler in you, Week 14

Tebow

By Josh Katzowitz


Each Saturday, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by bodog.com for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you’ll read all week. Because if you can’t lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what’s the point of watching sports at all?

Will the Denver Broncos trail at any point in the fourth quarter and still beat the Chicago Bears?

Yes 7/2

No 1/5

I’m going no, because I don’t think the Broncos will be trailing the Bears in the second half at all. Ah, the power of Tim Tebow (and the deficiency of starting Caleb Hanie).

Who will finish second in NFL MVP voting?     

Tom Brady (NE) QB 2/3       

Drew Brees (NO) QB 3/2       

Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) QB 5/1       

Tim Tebow (DEN) QB 10/1     

As much as I want to say Tebow -- even if it’s just for some good old fashioned CBSSports.com unity with colleague Gregg Doyel -- I’ll go with Brady to finish behind Aaron Rodgers in the MVP race. Brady is too easy a selection after Rodgers not to pick him.

Will Tony Sparano be the head coach of the Dolphins for Game 1 of the 2012 regular season?   
    
   
Yes -150    

No +110 

Ha, no. But I think Sparano and his team have done the city proud with the way the Dolphins are playing. You have to think Sparano is impressing somebody, even if that somebody is not Miami owner Stephen Ross.

Will Donovan McNabb sign with an NFL team during the 2011 regular season?      
 
Yes 2/1       

No 1/3

If the Bears, who are in desperate, desperate need of a legit starting quarterback, passes on claiming McNabb, you have to think nobody else will be interested. The more interesting question: is McNabb’s career over? For that, I’d say yes.

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 5:12 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 5:13 pm
 

Martz plans to be 'more aggressive' with Hanie

Hanie has struggled in two starts but there are no plans to bench him. Just the opposite, in fact. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Heading into Week 14, the Bears are the No. 5 seed in the NFC, ahead of two other teams with 7-5 records: the Falcons and Lions. Three weeks ago, Chicago was playing like one of the conference's top two or three clubs but that all changed the moment quarterback Jay Cutler broke his thumb against the Chargers.

In the two games since, backup Caleb Hanie has thrown six interceptions, been sacked 11 times and the Bears have gone winless. Going into Hanie's first start, the conventional wisdom was that offensive coordinator Mike Martz would be wise to give the ball to running back Matt Forte 30 times a game, give Hanie easy, high-percentage throws (think screens and slants -- or as they're called in Denver: Tebow specials), and let the defense take care of the rest.

Yeah, that didn't happen. (Exacerbating things: Forte injured his knee last Sunday and will be out 2-4 weeks). Good news: Martz later blamed execution, not the play call for one of Hanie's worst interceptions -- a screen pass thrown back across the field that didn't go quite as planned. 

Now, with four games remaining (at Denver, Seattle, at Green Bay, at Minnesota) and a tenuous hold on a wild-card spot, Martz says that he will be more aggressive with Hanie.


The Denver Broncos have won their last five straight games and hope to make it six as they host the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon. Who has the advantage in this matchup? Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan preview this game.

“He did a lot of good things in that game [vs. the Chiefs],” Martz said, according to the Chicago Tribune's Bradd Biggs. … “I don’t think [Hanie] is any different than any of our coaches on offense or players so he did some really good things in there and he’s making progress and I am encouraged by a lot of things in there. When you go back and look at that, there’s reasons for everything that happened. He’s not making mental errors, he’s sharp with everything so he’s learning under the gun so to speak.

“We’ve got to get him into the game a little bit earlier, probably a little bit still too conservative with him. He’s capable of probably more than what we’re doing with him. So, we’ll be a little bit more aggressive with him.”

Hanie will get that chance against the Broncos. You might have heard that they're playing well lately. Still, despite all the praise we're heaping on Denver's defense, they're only middle of the pack according to Football Outsiders' metrics (17th overall, 22nd against the pass, 10th against the run). Unfortunately, the Bears' offense ranks 25th (25th in passing, 17th in rushing).

Whatever happens Sunday, this much is certain: head coach Lovie Smith won't bench Hanie.

“That’s going into the game expecting something bad to happen,” Smith said. “That way of thinking, we just don’t have that. I’m looking at Caleb Hanie going into that game having success and doing a lot of good things and leading us to a win. We spend most of our time concentrating on that.”

If Chicago can finish the regular season 2-2 they'll make the playoffs. If they can't muster two wins, there's a good chance the Lions will sneak into the last wild-card spot and the Bears will be on the outside looking in.

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Posted on: December 7, 2011 8:02 pm
 

Cutler: Favre would've come back for right price

Cutler thinks Favre might come back if the money was right. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

It's been about 24 hours since we last wrote about Brett Favre, the Wranglers wearin', gunslinger who hasn't played in an NFL game in 12 months. He released a statement Tuesday night suggesting that won't change anytime soon.

"In spite of reports about playing with various teams, I'm enjoying retirement with my family and have no plans to play football."

To which we added: "Hopefully, this is the last we speak of Brett Lorenzo Favre's possible return to the NFL (although somehow we suspect it won't be)."

We suspected right. On Monday, there were reports that Favre would consider joining the Bears, who lost starter Jay Cutler to a broken thumb. Backup Caleb Hanie has been wholly unimpressive as Cutler's replacement, throwing six interceptions and going winless in two games. Chicago said they weren't interested in Favre (or Donovan McNabb), and Favre promptly released the statement saying he's happy in his post-football career.

That should be that. But this is Favre, where "retired" sometimes means "I'll be back in a bit" and "no" means something much less definitive.

We really do think Favre's NFL career is over, but not everyone's convinced. CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote Wednesday morning that "When Favre says he wasn't interested in the Bears job, he wasn't quite telling the entire story. He was definitely interested, I'm told, but when the Bears made it known the interest wasn't eventually reciprocated, then Favre made his public statement about not wanting to play."

What Freeman hears jibes with comments made by Cutler, who happens to share an agent (Bus Cook) with Favre. During an appearance on the Waddle and Silvy Show radio show, Cutler said he had spoken to Cook earlier this week.

"He didn't really expect Brett to come back," Cutler said. "Brett probably would have came back, but I'm sure it would have to be a very, very high number money-wise, and it would have been interesting.

"[Favre's] a West Coast (offense) guy. That's the reason he went to the places he went, Minnesota, and he was the entire time in Green Bay. So for him to jump in this system and try to orchestrate this offense would have been difficult for him."

Favre made about $25 million during his two seasons in Minnesota (never mind his earnings from the previous 18 years in the league). We'd like to think that money wouldn't be a motivating factor at this point in the proceedings.

Either way, we're with Freeman when he writes: "I think we have finally reached a Favre finality. At least, that seems to be the sentiment around the NFL. Teams are finally done with Favre. They no longer think his talent matches the accompanying headaches."

So we'll say it once more, this time with feeling: "Hopefully, this is the last we speak of Brett Lorenzo Favre's possible return to the NFL."

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Posted on: December 6, 2011 7:24 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 7:23 am
 

Favre denies return report; Bears not interested

Brett Lorenzo Favre: still retired. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Perhaps there will come a time when an injury to an NFL starting quarterback won't reflexively lead to media inquiries about whether Brett Favre would be interested in the job. Sadly, we are not yet at that point. Never mind that Favre is 42 years old and has stated on several occasions going back to this summer that he ain't coming back.

(UPDATE: Favre released a statement Tuesday night. "In spite of reports about playing with various teams, I'm enjoying retirement with my family and have no plans to play football," he said.)

Of course, Favre brought this on himself with the annual "I'm not really retiring" press conferences. And now it's his burden to bear for the rest of his days. It also explains why he's been linked to the Dolphins, Texans and most recently the Bears.

On Monday, a report surfaced that Favre would listen if Chicago called. On Tuesday, a source told ESPN that the Bears have no interest in Favre despite losing Jay Cutler to a broken thumb and subsequently going 0-2 with backup Caleb Hanie.

"That's our group," head coach Lovie Smith said Monday of Hanie, Josh McCown and Nathan Enderle, the three quarterbacks currently on the roster. "We're going to make improvements with our group. We're not looking on the outside. We won't have a quarterback tryout or anything like that."

Hopefully, this is the last we speak of Brett Lorenzo Favre's possible return to the NFL (although somehow we suspect it won't be).

Last week, there was speculation that Donovan McNabb could join the Bears after being released by the Vikings. That didn't happen either.

“If [the front office] feels like [McNabb] can help us win games, then that's the number,” defensive back Corey Graham said, via CSNChicago.com. “But as of right now, we actually believe in Caleb. We've seen him do a lot of great things in practice and things of that nature, so we believe in what he can do. Yeah, it's been a rough couple of games for him, but I'm pretty sure he can bounce back and I'm pretty sure he can be OK for us.”

And Devin Hester, during a Monday radio appearance, said that signing McNabb would be a "waste of time" because of the intricacies of Mike Martz's offense and with only four weeks left in the regular season.  

To recap: if Chicago is going to make the playoffs it won't be because of a late-season acquisition of a veteran quarterback. It will be because Hanie played much better over the final month of the season than he did the previous two weeks.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com