If you are a Bears fan you have to be asking some hard questions about Jay Cutler. In fact, most Bears fans, along with many other players, and other observers were asking hard questions about the character of the strong-armed Bears QB.
How hurt was he? How come he was moping around instead of helping his understudies? How come he was so inaccurate yesterday?
Todd Collins is done and is not even part of a picture. He had a window. It is closed. The discussion is about Caleb Hanie, who came on and while not perfect--in fact fooled on the pick six play by the DE in pass coverage--played with a spirit that Cutler did not have. Further, he made throws Cutler did not make. The third year QB out of Colorado State, a native of Texas, showed definite flashes of potential. In fact, as he worked in this difficult game, I began to wonder what his contract status was and if the Kansas City Chiefs should try to sign him away from the Bears.
So Bears fans, while you have a team that got this close I think your off season will not be without interest!
Photos of Jay Cutler and Caleb Hanie (top to bottom) via nfl.com.
Well, now we have all learned this weekend that in order to win championship games you must play well or at least be present the entire game. You can not take the first half off and expect to be able to come back against a quality team.
Both the New York Jets and the Chicago Bears fell behind in yesterday's games. Their offenses flailed, their defenses like swinging gates, allowing chunks of yardage to be gained.
Both tried valiantly to come back in the second half.
To come back from a 2 or 3 score deficit requires perfection, a very high standard. The defense must stop and/or turn over the opposing offense. The offense cannot turn the ball over and cannot miss opportunities to score. The pressure is intense. It is tough to pull off a come back from 21 points or more behind.
Both defenses rose to the occasion, most of the time. The Bears stiffened considerably, not allowing much production from the Packers offense. They hit hard, stopped the Pack on third down and rattled Aaron Rodgers. The Jets defense bent, bent, bent but by dint of timely stiffening and turnovers did not break until that last drive when Big Ben scrambled yet again and found the open man for the last and fatal first down with around 2 minutes to play.
Both offenses let down on the comeback trail and that is why the Packers and the Steelers will play in Texas February 6th.
Kansas lost to Texas today, in a game that sounded in the first half like KU had things firmly under control. Apparently, they just fell apart in every way in the second half. Of note and concern at the conclusion of half number one was the foul trouble that the bigger front line players were in. In the second half, Texas clamped down defensively, and KU could not shoot from outside to get back in it.
A concern for Kansas has to be team chemistry as there were losses of players to graduation and the pros. The last loss at Allen Field House was less than four years ago. Only one player was on the team at that time. KU always has that All Star Team Thrown Together feel to it. It's a tribute to Bill Self that the Jayhawks do as well as they do year after year, but I also think it makes them more subject to upset under pressure, like a long win streak or March tournament time.
Meantime, the Kansas State Wildcats made a very strong bid to beat Texas A & M at College Station. They came back at least twice from deficits but were undone by poor shooting from three, poor foul shooting (an Achilles heel from last year, I remember), turnovers, stupid fouls and bad decisions on the basketball floor. The game was much closer than its 64-56 final score. One can hope that the Cats can turn this encouraging performance into something more. The trick for K State at this point is to keep improving. However, at this point at 1-4 (13-7 overall), they may need to win the Big 12 Tournament to get into the Big Dance.
With Fan Fest here (can't go--no money : P), and the NFC and AFC championship this weekend, you know then that we are a couple of weeks into the conference college basketball season.
Kansas has rocked steady generally, they did have a close call at Allen Field House against Nebraska but that home win streak is intact and they have not been defeated this year.
Missouri has been mostly up. The team is young, and sometimes inconsistent, but has done OK so far, and should make the tournament.
Kansas State, who had the most preseason hype and much to the consternation of Jayhawk Nation was ranked over KU, has been very disappointing. The team has lacked court leadership and reports are that the team is not responding as well to Frank Martin.
O by the way: UVM is 15-5 overall and 4-2 in conference play. The UVM ladies, who made a big bang in the tournament last year, lost both their coach and all their seniors and so have just won 2 games so far this year. That's life in midmajor land...
Green Bay is riding the momentum of a first half ending Pick-6 interception to a rout of the Falcons, currently the score is 42-21 at the very beginning of the fourth quarter. Green Bay scored 35 unanswered points.
It would not be impossible for Atlanta to come back, but it would have to be a combination of a perfect offense and great defense and some breaks for the Falcons to make up that much ground.
Of course the Eagles did it against the Giants earlier this year...
One seat for the AFC Championship filled--the Steelers came back from behind, using their defense to defeat the Baltimore Ravens 31-24. The Ravens made several critical mistakes in the second half including turnovers and drops.
If NE wins tomorrow, it will be the Patriots and the Steelers at New England. If the Jets prevail, the AFC championship will be played in Pittsburgh.
Well, the Chiefs demonstrated that they are not quite fully baked today. They looked inexperienced, and panicked at times. The offense was very shaky, and the defense, while mostly pretty stalwart, had trouble guarding against third down success. The result was a very close game that turned into to a blowout, 30-7.
The key play was the 4th and inches call in the third quarter, on Baltimore's 33 yard line. The Chiefs were going against the wind, so a FG was not a choice. The call to go for it was the right call. The play, however, was the WRONG call. A pitch back, backwards 6 yards. Baltimore wasn't fooled a bit. A power play with a counter action is the right call. Or a QB sneak. Or a pounding play with Tim Castile or Shaun Smith. It was the length of the football!
It was all downhill after that. Turnovers and penalties--the Chiefs doing all the things they had avoided during most of the year. The score rapidly got out of hand.
Fans should remember that this was a bonus--tell me, were you expecting a 10 win season? 8-8 maybe. 9-7 maybe. Really? The team is not fully cooked yet, not done. What we need is a season of equal improvement next year, with wins over winning teams in a tougher schedule.
Meantime, the Eagles lost to the Packers in a game the Pack got ahead in by two touchdowns. Talk about a disgruntled fan base! A lost home playoff game, Iggles Fans cannot be pleased.
Seattle upset New Orleans who apparently forgot to bring their defense with them to the Great Northwest. How is it that the Saints D can play so wonderfully against the Falcons, and then drop a total clunker in this game? The Saints have some evaluation to do on the defensive side of the ball.
There was also one decision I disagreed with in this game--with 9:16 left in the game, New Orleans was on the Seahawks 3 with 4th down and 2 yards to go. The score was 34-27. New Orleans had offensive momentum, having just scored a TD at the 13:16 mark and held Seattle to a three-and-out in the succeeding series. The Saints decided to kick a field goal. I disagree with the call. First, time is short. Second, if you fail, the Seahawks are on offense at their 3, 2 or 1 yard line. It was time to go for it. Commentators kept saying how important it was to come away with points, blah, blah. I wonder if being in an enemy stadium made Shaun Payton and company too conservative, too conscious of the "crowd momentum"?
Meantime the Jets, Jets, Jets beat Indy at their own game, in a tense fingernail chewer of a game featuring more punts in the first quarter than in the entire Saints-Seahawks match. It came down to Mark Sanchez being calm cool and collected and taking the Jets down to FG range with a minute and small change left in the game after being set up by a fabulous kick off return. Nick Folk made the kick and the Jets took the match on the last possession.
Next week we have the Steelers and Ravens in Pittsburgh, Jets to New England to face the Patriots in the AFC and Seattle plays the Bears in Chicago. As their reward, Green Bay gets a pleasant trip to Atlanta to face the Falcons in the Georgia Dome.
Happy, happy, happy for the Jets, very disappointed in the Saints, disappointed but not surprised by the Chiefs loss, surprised by the Philly loss. A mixed bag for sure.
Freeman back to pass in today's game against New Orleans. (nfl.com)
Tampa Bay finished their year 10-6 with a victory over the New Orleans Saints today. The Bucs made big progress, doubling their win total from last year. However, they struggled against good teams--with the exception of today's game, the Bucs were without victories against better than 500 teams and Josh's QB rating was an average 75 against such teams as opposed to over 100 against sub .500 teams. Like the Chiefs, the Bucs may be a little ahead of schedule, the results this year concealing deficits in the team. There is no doubt, though, that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have found their quarterback.
For the Saints game, which TB won, Josh was 21/26 for 255 yards and two TDs. No INTs--he did lose a fumble in today's game. The season's totals are 291/474 for 3,451 yards. He threw 25 TD passes and 6 INTs. He also ran for 364 yards. He was sacked 28 times and lost 3 fumbles. His QB rating for the whole season was 95.9.
Josh's biggest improvement was in his interception numbers. In 16 games he had 12 fewer INTs then in last years campaign. He raised his QB rating from 59.8 to 95.9. It's clear that he worked at improving over the off season and, even without a lot of game work in the preseason, he was ready to play better this year.
The next step for Freeman and the Bucs is to be able to hang some defeats on some of the better teams. They can start with their own division that includes the Saints and Falcons, both playoff teams this year.
Well, the playoffs are set except for the NFC West rep (Seattle winning currently) and the Giants are out. They did it to themselves with the losses to the Eagles and Packers and the 41 turnovers during the year. So the following teams are in:
New Orleans Saints
Green Bay Packers
either Seattle Seahawks or St. Louis Rams. Update: It's Seattle, winning 16-6. The Seahawks defense stifled the Rams offense pretty much the whole game.
For next week's games, the Saints will go to the West winner in the first Saturday game, and Green Bay goes to Philly on Sunday.
In the AFC, Indy won, Jacksonville lost. The Jets righted themselves with the back up Mark (Brunell) at QB. So your AFC teams are:
New England Patriots
Kansas City Chiefs
New York Jets
For next week's games, the Saturday night cap is Jets to Indy to play the Colts. Sunday is our Chiefs against the Ravens in the first game.
A "look out" block--as in "Look out, Matt!" (nfl.com)
Well, what a last couple days have been very interesting for the Chiefs. First, we had the saga of Charlie Weis and Florida. National rumors were rampant that the Florida Gators were interviewing Weis for their Offensive Coordinator position, but Chiefs coach Todd Haley says on Friday, "We don't know anything about that." By Sunday, it was well known that Weis was leaving for Florida. There were all sorts of obfuscations about why, including "following his son" who is in high school now! It has become pretty apparent that Weis and Haley weren't always on the same page, and Charlie just may have had it. Too bad, now, Todd Haley has lost two offensive coordinators in his short head coaching career. Who are the Chiefs going to find to take the position now?
As to today's "important" game, I felt this was a game we should win but might not. Today the team played flat and distracted, especially the offensive line. In fact the start looked promising, with the defense playing hard, but the offense allowed the Raiders to think they had a life, and the Raiders got life. Their lines played hard and consistantly beat the Chief's lines, resulting in 7 sacks of Chiefs QBs, countless hits and hurries, and no rushing game. Meantime the defense was porious to the rush and couldn't get off the field. Result: 31-10 loss. In retrospect, I would have preferred to lose by this score with the subs in. We saw no subs until the mid fourth quarter.
The Chiefs need to bear down and forget about today and concentrate on the game coming up against the Baltimore Ravens a week from today at 1200 CST. Otherwise, it's one and done, and look bad doing it.
I am a New Yorker by birth, and have been a life long Giants, Jets and Mets fan. (I never could really get into rooting for the Yankees.) I moved to Vermont for my high school years. I lived in the Philadelphia area for several years. Then I returned to Vermont to live. Now, I have been in Kansas City for twenty years. I am a Royals and Chiefs fan. I'm a graduate of the University of Vermont. My tax dollars go to MU, but I am an all around fan of our area Big 12 colleges. I love living in a town with a vibrant sports scene, where sports news gets more comments than any other news. I am passionate but thoughtful. I don't call names. However, if someone needs a butt kicking, I'll give it. So, that's where I'm coming from.