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Tag:Matt Forte
Posted on: December 23, 2011 8:11 pm
 

For the gambler in you, Week 16

Babin

By Josh Katzowitz

Each week, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by Bovada 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 Jason Babin tie or break the record of 22.5 sacks in a single regular season? 

Yes 5/1

Well, considering Babin doesn’t get to play against Brett Favre at all (“Thanks again, Brett,” says Michael Strahan), it’ll be tough to match Strahan’s record. Babin has 18 sacks and two more games to tie Strahan, and he’s be on fire recently, recording eight sacks in the past three games. That’s the good news. The not so good news is that the Eagles finish the season with the Cowboys and Redskins -- which rank 20th and 10th, respectively, in sacks allowed this season. So, while it might be tempting to take the odds, I think I’d probably go ‘no.’

Will Bear GM Jerry Angelo be fired before Game 1 of the 2012 regular season?     

Yes -140

No EVEN

Retired? Maybe.
Fired? No. While Caleb Hanie has been terrible since taking over for Jay Cutler, the Bears were on their way to the playoffs if their most important player didn’t get hurt. Now, if you’re asking Matt Forte, what he’d like to see happen, he might point toward a firing. But I don’t see it for now. That, however, doesn’t mean Angelo will be back next year.

Will Raheem Morris be the head coach of the Bucs for Game 1 of the 2012 regular season?     
   
Yes +110

No -150

I want to say yes, simply because the slide for the Buccaneers this season has been so steep. But I can’t stop thinking about last year’s surprising 10-6 finish that Morris helped orchestrate. I’d go no, but when Morris says things like this about his team, “You know, they’re not listening,” that’s certainly not a good sign.

Will either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Buffalo Bills win another game this season?

Yes -210

No +170

The Buccaneers play at Carolina and Atlanta; Buffalo plays host to Denver and then is at New England to end the season. Straight-up, I’d pick the Buccaneers and Bills to lose all of those games, but I think one team will end up winning one game. I’d bet ‘yes’ on this one, and cross my fingers.

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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 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 5, 2011 1:57 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 2:15 pm
 

Report: Brett Favre would listen if Bears called

Posted by Will Brinson



And so it begins: a report out of Chicago Monday indicates that Brett Favre "would listen" if the Bears, dealing with serious deficiencies on offense, came calling.

Mike C. Wright of ESPN Chicago cites a "source familiar with the quarterback" who said Favre "would listen if the Bears made a pitch." Wright also adds, however, that it's "highly doubtful" that the Bears would call and that, as of the report, Chicago had not contacted Favre.
Week 13 Recap

That backs up what Bears coach Lovie Smith said on Monday when addressing the offensive issues following a sprained MCL injury to running back Matt Forte that could sideline the Bears two best offensive players -- quarterback Jay Cutler and Forte -- for the rest of the regular season.

"That's our group," Smith said of his quarterbacks. "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."

On the heels of back-to-back three-interception games from Caleb Hanie, the Bears were tied to plenty of rumors surrounding free agent Donovan McNabb. (Wide receiver/kick returner Devin Hester believes that would be "a waste of time.")

The upshot to either Favre or McNabb is that they have more experience (and, hopefully, skill) than Hanie. The downside is that they don't know Mike Martz' offense, and getting either up to speed wouldn't be the easiest of tasks.

Additionally, each one would bring a touch of drama to the situation, as you might expect.

The more likely scenario is that Chicago does what Chicago does, which is try to win games with defense and special teams. But the Bears are still in the playoff hunt, and Favre will, apparently, never go away. So let's not rule anything out completely just yet.

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Posted on: December 5, 2011 11:46 am
 

Matt Forte to miss 2-4 weeks with sprained MCL?

Posted by Will Brinson



Matt Forte's injury on Sunday -- the running back left in the first quarter after Derrick Johnson tackled him -- might have backed the Bears season into a corner and taken away its claws. This is particularly true if Forte, as reports indicate, will miss between two and four weeks.

"I feel bad for Matt, especially with everything he's going through,'' wideout/returner Devin Hester said. "This is like a big slap in the face.''

Week 13 Recap

Hester, by the way, also said signing Donovan McNabb would be "a waste of time." Multiple reports out of Chicago indicate that Forte's injury is a Grade 2 MCL sprain and that it will require him to miss up to four weeks of playing time.

Interestingly, as Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune notes, Forte's played through a serious knee injury once already in his career. In 2009, Forte sprained his MCL in Week 3 of the season but never missed a game, eventually getting surgery in the following offseason.

There's one huge difference between 2009 and right now, though: Forte's contract.

The running back has wanted a new deal for several months now, and the Bears have simply refused to "pay the man." Whether or not Forte's willing to play through the injury this time around will be interesting; at least one of his teammates believes if he can, he will.

"He's a competitor," wideout Roy Williams said Sunday after the game, per The Trib. "That's what we are: We're competitors. A lot of people don't play this game for money. I don't. I could quit right now and be fine [financially]. I play because I love the game and I want to compete. That's the same with Forte. If he can play, he's going to play, no matter the money situation."

No one doubts that Forte wants to play. And even if Forte misses four weeks, it doesn't mean he's purposely laying low to guarantee himself a payday. In fact, far from it.

But it'd be hard to blame Forte if he was cautious with his returning timeline, given the way the Bears have handled his contract situation. Of course, Sunday was a perfect example of not only why Forte wants to get paid, but why the Bears haven't paid him.

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Posted on: December 5, 2011 2:20 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 13

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 13 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.

 

1. Tebowtainment

Before diving into another Tim Tebow victory -- this time a 35-32 squeaker on the road in Minnesota -- let's go ahead and get you ready for the upcoming week of screaming talking head mania by offering up the Official Tebow Haters Stat Du Jour: opponent's victories!

As people will tell you over the next seven days, Denver's last five victories came against five teams five teams with a combined 25 victories. (Don't think I'm defending that, just know that I'm preparing you for it.)

You know why people are going to focus on that, as well as the Vikings two-win season and a miserable Minnesota secondary?

Because Tebow just won a game by being a -- gasp! -- traditional passer. Tebow went 10 of 15 for 202 yards and two touchdowns and only rushed the ball four times, one of which was was a lateral kneel to set up the game-winning field goal.

The result of Sunday's win is the most improbable of improbable situations: Denver being the favorite to land the No. 4 seed in the AFC playoffs. With "just" the Bears, Patriots, Bills and Chiefs remaining on the schedule, Denver's in a better position than Oakland (losers Sunday, with the Packers, Lions, Chiefs and Chargers remaining) to make the postseason.

And if you're a Tebow hater, you better get your block button on Twitter ready, because things are about to get hairy when they get there. On the other hand, if you're a Tebow hater, what's your beef with a team that utilizes an opportunistic defense, a run-based offense that doesn't make mistakes and a quarterback who may or may not have mystical powers to win games?

I understand that people have to argue about something during the week, but are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?

2. You Just Iced Yourself, Bro

On Sunday, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett took clock mismanagement to an entirely new level in Dallas' 19-13 loss to Arizona in overtime.

First off, Garrett iced his own kicker. Icing an opponent's kicker is a foolhardy move, because it really doesn't work all that well in the first place. But icing your own kicker? That's the stuff that Jim Mora rants -- and knee-jerk firings -- are made of.

Somehow, though, Garrett's ridiculous decision wasn't his worst move of the Cowboys loss. With over a minute remaining, Dallas facing a second and 20 and holding two timeouts, Tony Romo took the snap and completed a pass to Dez Bryant for nine yards. 30 seconds later, Romo took another snap and hit Bryant for 15 yards and a first down, then spiked the ball with eight seconds remaining on the clock.

No timeouts used, 53 seconds burnt and the Cowboys still needing Dan Bailey to kick a 49-yard field goal. Cue up icing of Bailey, and cue up a Kevin Kolb-led game-winning drive for the Cardinals in their first possession in overtime.

There's no need to dive into the hyperbole-filled world of "worst clock management ever," but suffice to say Wade Phillips is laughing his jolly ass off somewhere right now.

3. Yes We Cam ... But Maybe We Shouldn't

Sunday -- a 38-19 win for Carolina over Tampa Bay -- was a big day for Cam Newton. The Panthers won. (It's the most important thing, haven't you heard?) Newton won his first division game. Newton picked up his first winning "streak." And the rookie phenom had, arguably, his best game as a professional quarterback.

Newton went 12 of 21 for and only threw for 204 yards, but he had one touchdown through the air, no turnovers and managed 54 rushing yards on 13 carries and three rushing touchdowns.

That total, by the by, means Newton now holds the single-season rookie record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 13, leaving poor Steve Grogan with no other real historical notation to his name.

Here's the crazy thing though: Newton's just five touchdowns short of Eric Dickerson's record for rushing touchdowns in a season by any rookie. With four games to go, 18 or 19 is well within his sights.

Should it be, though? I say no, and that's coming from someone who's a conductor on the CamWagon and a Newton fantasy owner. Here's why: Newton hasn't learned how to avoid contact yet. He's getting a little better about avoiding shots, but watching him go into a headfirst horizontal spin has to make Jerry Richardson's heart skip a couple of beats.

On a day when you win by 19 points against a terrible rushing defense like Tampa's, especially when they don't have their starting quarterback, there's no reason why Newton has three more carries than DeAngelo Williams, who got $43 million this offseason.

Watching Cam break Dickerson's record would be fun, but not as fun as watching Cam stay healthy over the next decade.

4. Defining Swagger

For the first few weeks of the season, I'm pretty confident I pumped a lot of words in this space in the direction of the Detroit Lions because of their new-found attitude under coach Jim Schwartz.

A "swagger," if you will. Well, it's backfiring, and backfiring badly. Sunday was a perfect example, as the Lions piled up well over 100 yards in penalties -- most of them incredibly stupid and chippy -- during their 31-17 loss to New Orleans.

Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham preach a hard-nose brand of football, and that's great for a Lions team that's been pushed around and publicly mocked for more than a decade because of futility in every aspect.

But you can't give away games by trying to be tough. The Lions, for the first time in a looooong time, are in the middle of a playoff race, and other contenders (the Giants, the Bears, the Falcons, the Cowboys) are imploding all around them.

Did they learn nothing from Ndamukong Suh getting suspended for ridiculously dumb and violent on-field actions? Just go out and be tough without being dumb.

Having swagger doesn't mean having to be stupid.


5. Hibernation Time

Say what you will about Caleb Hanie, but the Bears had a shot at the playoffs even with Jay Cutler out. But after Matt Forte sprained his MCL in Sunday's 10-3 loss to Kansas City, that pipedream just went down the tube.

Hanie was 11 of 24 for 133 yards and three picks, Marion Barber carried the rock 14 times for 44 yards and anyone watching the game knew that it was going to take a Bears defensive touchdown to win that game.

The Bears got burnt because Kansas City hit a Hail Mary to Dexter McCluster at the end of the half, and as pointed out last week, Romeo Crennel really does deserve some love for the defensive schemes he's cooking up these days, but this is a Chicago team that looked like a legit Super Bowl contender just three weeks ago.

Since then, they've been absolutely snakebit with injuries to stars, and even if they're still technically "in" the NFC playoffs as of today, is that defense really going to shut out three of the next four opponents?

Or, put more a little succinctly: Chicago just lost to Tyler Palko. Goodnight, sweet Bears.

6. Next Man Up

Speaking of injuries to key players, can we go ahead and get love for the work Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips are doing in Houston?

Because as soft as the Texans schedule is, Kubes somehow managed to shock the world (well, some of us) by beating Atlanta 17-10 despite having T.J. Yates under center.

But what's new, right? The Texans, as Clark Judge noted on Sunday from Houston, have won without every single one of their stars and it's not just because this team gets to beat up on the cupcakes of the AFC South.

It's because they've got established a quality of depth on this team that allows them to succeed despite potentially debilitating injuries to critical players.

"Because we have a defense that's playing well," Arian Foster said after the game. "We have receivers that can make plays. [We have] a solid offensive line. We have running backs who can make plays. We have weapons around him to help [Yates]."

This steady diet of consistency and quality of depth is precisely why Houston hasn't -- and won't -- collapse under the weight of a run to the playoffs this year.


7. Rookie Wall

The BCS laid a couple of stinkbombs on Sunday that would actually make Jim Caldwell cringe, but the most important thing for us NFL types is that the college season is now over. Not because we want it to end, but now's a good measuring stick of the rookie wall.

The last time Andy Dalton, leading a surprising Bengals playoff run, played a game after the first weekend of December, it was probably on a month's worth of rest, because of the bowl system.

This year, Dalton gets four games in that stretch, with about six days in between each one.

And though the Red Rifle wasn't awful during Sunday's 35-7 loss to Pittsburgh, he was banged up and beat down enough that Bruce Gradkowski came in for mop-up duty.

As noted above, I'm all for keeping rookies safe. But there's got to be some concern that Dalton's entering an unknown area in terms of wear and tear on his body and mind.

It probably won't help that he gets a pair of elite defenses -- Baltimore and Houston -- over the next few weeks either.

8. Please Don't Punch the Zebras

Twice on Sunday we saw players -- Da'Quan Bowers of the Buccaneers and Brandon Pettigrew of the Lions -- make what could at best be called "incidental" contact with referees on the field.

Both Bowers and Pettigrew were involved in scuffles on the field and neither was going after the official, but when they were being pulled away from whatever mini-ruckus was taking place, both struck the official.

That's a 15-yard penalty and it should be an ejection. Only Pettigrew was flagged and neither was ejected. (Oddly, when Bowers lashed out, Brian Price was booted to the locker room by coach Raheem Morris.)

It's not an epidemic running around, but with some of the non-calls we've seen on violent plays this year, it's a little disappointing that the guys in stripes aren't making more of a concerted effort to look out for their own safety.

Expect fines for both guys, particularly if the league wants to ensure players aren't taking aggressive contact with the officials on the field of play.

9. Save Our Sparanos

My man Pete Prisco already broke down the odiferous nature of Oakland's 34-14 stinkbomb in Miami on Sunday, but there's something else at play here: is Tony Sparano saving his job?

Because the Dolphins are suddenly riding a hot streak (they've won four of their last five) that seemed impossible after an 0-7 start to the season. Not only are they no longer the worst team in the NFL, they might not even be the worst team in their division, what with the 5-7 Bills racing them back to the bottom.

Matt Moore looks like Matt Moore looked when Matt Moore was helping the Panthers win meaningless games late in 2009, and Reggie Bush looks like Reggie Bush looked when ... well, Reggie Bush hasn't ever looked like this. But he looks good.

The defense is stifling teams (I don't care how many starters the Raiders were missing), and Miami's got three winnable games on their schedule remaining, as they play the Eagles and Jets at home and the Bills on the road.

If Sparano gets this team to 7-9 by winning seven of their last nine, it really seems inconceivable that Stephen Ross could can him.

10. Utah, Gimme Two

If you're listening to the podcast -- and why aren't you listening and/or subscribing -- you probably heard us rant on the ridiculous nature of two-point conversion usage in football.

And if you're not listening, here's a synopsis: people are doing it wrong. A great example occurred during the Packers-Giants game on Sunday (eventually won by Green Bay 38-35). With 3:35 remaining, the Packers held a one-point lead when Aaron Rodgers hit Donald Driver for a ridiculous touchdown grab.

Up seven points, the Packers had two choices. One, kick the extra point (and go up eight). Or two, go for two and have roughly a 50-percent chance (the conversion rate for two-point conversions) of going up nine points.

An unsuccessful conversion would simply mean the Giants needed to go down and score a touchdown, same as before, except without having to score a two-point conversion afterward. (Same odds apply here for the Giants getting theirs, obviously.)

A successful two-point conversion, however, would put the Packers up nine points, which means the Giants would need to go down, score a touchdown, kick an extra point, recover an onsides kick and then get in range to kick a long field goal. The odds of this happening are a) much worse than the Giants scoring and getting a two-point conversion; or b) much, much, much lower than a coin flip.

For whatever reason, coaches -- and most fans -- don't understand the tremendous advantage being up two possessions present, as opposed to simply being up eight points. The reward (basically ending the game) substantially outweighs the risk (a tie ballgame), however.

Muffed Punts

Leftovers from Sunday's Action ...
... The Packers tied the second-longest winning streak in NFL history, and are just three shy of the 03-04 Patriots, who won 21 straight.
... Frank Gore passed Joe Perry as the 49ers all-time leading rusher, on a day when San Francisco clinched the division.
... Drew Brees became the first player in NFL history to record 4,000 passing yards in his team's first 12 games.
... Jimmy Graham became the first Saints tight end in history to top 1,000 yards receiving in a season.
... Hines Ward became the 19th player in NFL history with 12,000 receiving yards in his career Sunday.

Worth 1,000 Words


GIF O' THE WEEK

A combo GIF this week! Via SBNation, first we have Hakeem Nicks showing the world how to do the not-so-sissy strut:



And then Nicks following that dance up by doing ... this:


Hot Seat Tracker

  • Steve Spagnuolo -- On the bright side, there might be an opening for a defensive coordinator in Philly ...
  • Jim Caldwell -- You can't not fire your coach if he goes 0-16, right?
  • Andy Reid --  I still don't buy that Philly dumps him, but his seat is warm for sure.
  • Raheem Morris -- Losing to the Panthers, even without Josh Freeman, isn't helping Morris.
  • Norv Turner -- He can get off this list with a playoff berth. So, yeah, um, yeah.

MVP Watch

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers continued their pursuit of perfection, but for the first time all season, Rodgers didn't look totally ridiculously amazing. He was still really good, though. And no one was that much better -- Tom Brady's got a case building, I suppose, but Rodgers is winning in a walkaway, barring something silly happening over the next four weeks.
Posted on: December 4, 2011 2:08 pm
 

Matt Forte ruled out with knee injury

Posted by Will Brinson

Things haven't been going the Bears way for a few weeks and the downturns continued on Sunday as running back Matt Forte was ruled out for the remainder of Chicago's game in Kansas City with a knee injury during the first quarter.

Forte got his spikes caught in the grass and took a clean shot from Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, then remained on the ground for several minutes before walking off, slowly, on his own power.

As our Bears Rapid Reporter Gene Chamberlain notes, a serious injury to Forte isn't just bad for the Bears, it's bad for Forte "personally," since he's been seeking a big-money deal from the Bears all season long.

Chicago's still capable of beating the Chiefs on Sunday -- after all, Kyle Orton's already entered and left the game with a finger injury! -- but losing Forte would put a serious damper on the realistic playoff possibilities for Chicago.

A combination of Caleb Hanie handing off to Chester Taylor and/or throwing to Johnny Knox and Roy Williams is likely too much for even the Bears defense and Devin Hester to overcome for multiple weeks.

Screenshot via

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Posted on: December 1, 2011 10:43 am
 

Martz blames execution not call for Hanie INT

Martz has been calling screen passes for 20 years, Hanie just didn't execute it properly against Oakland. (AP)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Before Caleb Hanie made his first NFL start last Sunday, replacing Jay Cutler in the lineup when the Bears faced the Raiders, Chicago offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who coached the Greatest Show on Turf in St. Louis earlier this century, said that he wouldn't ask Hanie to be Kurt Warner in Chicago's offense. (That didn't go without saying?)

Not surprisingly, Hanie looked like an inexperienced quarterback against the Raiders. He would occasionally flash potential, but he also threw three first-half interceptions, the last coming with Chicago deep in Oakland territory. The sequence led to a Raiders field goal and a spot in this week's Coach Killers (Hanie's delayed fake spike to end the game helped, too). The play -- Hanie rolled right and threw a screen pass across the field to his left -- is a lot to ask of a young quarterback. CBSSports.com MLB blogger Matt Snyder, a huge Bears fan, was apoplectic after the play. Not because of Hanie per se, but because Martz would think Hanie was capable of pulling it off. On Wednesday, Martz was asked about the decision.

“I’ve done that for 20 years, and it’s never anything but a good play really,” Martz said, via John Mullin of CSNChicago.com. “We didn’t execute it very well. The ball got tipped. So when you throw a screen and the ball gets tipped. . . . Screens aren’t hard. It’s just something that happened. No, I’m not aware of [any criticism for the play call]. I didn’t think twice about that call. I thought it was OK.”

To be fair, that wasn't your garden-variety screen pass (you can view it here). And while Cutler (and Warner) might've had little trouble executing it, Hanie, who had a grand total of 14 attempts and eight completions prior to Sunday's game, could've benefitted from a more conservative play call.

Just ask Cutler.

“We’ve just got to be really careful what kind of situations we put [Hanie] in,” Cutler said. “Mike’s got be careful with that. We don’t really know what Caleb’s comfortable with; Caleb doesn’t know what he’s comfortable with. He hasn’t run a lot of these plays, hasn’t run a lot of this stuff in the offense in game situations, in high-pressure situations. We’ve just got to take care of him.”

In theory, yes. But Martz is the same guy who, for the first month of the season, thought it was a swell idea to let Cutler stand in the pocket all day with little protection and take a beating. That strategy finally gave way to more Matt Forte, quicker throws from Cutler and -- wait for it -- more wins.

Can Martz adapt the Bears' offense to fit Hanie's strengths? Sure. The only question is if he'll get around to it before it's too late and the season's lost.

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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