Found December 19, 2012 on Fox Sports Arizona:
TEMPE, Ariz. When the Chicago Bears acquired receiver Brandon Marshall from Miami in the offseason, quarterback Jay Cutler rejoiced in a receiving corps that he finally believed was ready to make a major impact on the offense. It hasnt worked out that way in Chicago this year. Key injuries along the offensive line, to running backs Matt Forte and Michael Bush, to receivers Alshon Jeffery, Devin Hester and Earl Bennett, and to Cutler himself, have made continuity difficult. In the broader view, so has the fact that Cutler has played for three different offensive coordinators (Ron Turner, Mike Martz and Mike Tice) in his four seasons in Chicago. You look around the league and you look at successful quarterbacks. Most of them have a lot of consistency within the offense and growth from year to year, Cutler said Wednesday in a conference call with Phoenix area media. Thats kind of how it goes. When youre always starting back at square one in the offseason and trying to catch up and learn it by training camp and youre still installing in Week 1, its a little difficult. When the Bears began the season 7-1, it looked like the offensive problems might finally be over, thanks in large part to a monster season from Marshall, who is second in the NFL in receiving yards at 1,398 yards and tied for second with 10 TDs. But Cutler suffered a concussion in a 13-6, Week-9 loss to the Texans, and the Bears were pummeled 32-7 in San Francisco the following week with Jason Campbell starting for Cutler. Since then, the clubs mojo has disappeared and it has lost five of its last six games, including three straight one-score games to Seattle (overtime), Minnesota and Green Bay. Despite the preseason hopes, Chicagos offense is ranked 29th in the league at 305.9 yards per game, and the passing offense is ranked 28th at 186.4 yards. Those storylines should sound familiar to Cardinals fans, who have watched a rash of injuries and dreadful offense derail a 4-0 start and lead to questions about coach Ken Whisenhunts future. Bears coach Lovie Smith is facing the same sort of scrutiny in Chicago. If the club doesnt make the playoffs, or even if it does and falls in the first round as a No. 6 seed, there is talk Smith could be ousted and Cutler could be playing for his fourth OC in five years. Smith has faced this sort of speculation before. After the Bears went to the Super Bowl in 2006, the team failed to make the playoffs the following three seasons, and there were calls for Smiths head. The Bears responded with an 11-5 record and an NFC Championship game berth in 2010 but missed the playoffs last season with an 8-8 record that was largely the product of a Cutler injury after the team started 7-3. But with just three playoff berths in eight seasons as coach in a city of great expectations speculation about Smith is warranted. I coach the same way that Ive coached every day that Ive been a head coach here, and thats not going to change, Smith said Wednesday. Ive been the head coach here for a long time for a reason. Again, I plan on being the coach here for a long time. MUTED RETURNS Sundays game will boast the only two active NFL players in history who have taken four punts back for TDs in a single season the Cardinals Patrick Peterson (2011) and the Bears Devin Hester (2007). Unfortunately for both, neither has had much success this year. Neither has a TD or is among the leaders in average yards per return. Hester ranks 15th at 9.0 per return; Peterson is 20th at 8.6. Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt thinks those numbers partially reflect the respect both players are given. Youve seen it more so this year with teams punting away from Patrick, so I know they have the same type of respect for him, Whisenhunt said. Theres a good chance that one of those types of plays can make a difference in this game. PEANUT THE STRIPPER Cornerback Charles Tillmans nickname in Chicago is Peanut, but Smith is unwilling to discuss the origin of that that nickname. You are asking some personal things, Smith said, laughing. I call him Charles most of the time. We have a couple other names, The Beef Genghis, but its fitting. What Smith will discuss is Tillmans uncanny ability to strip opposing ball carriers of the ball a talent at which Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton rates Tillman the best in the league. I wish I could tell you what he does, but I think when you have a special talent like that, thats why its special, Smith said. First, there has to be an emphasis on it, and theres an emphasis on it from our coaches here, and not just with Charles. We have as many takeaways as any team in the league since 2004. Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson spent a lot of time with Tillman at last years Pro Bowl, yet he also has no idea how Tillman has managed to lead the league with an astounding 10 forced fumbles this season and finish among the top six in that category three of the past four seasons. I believe its a gift because I try to strip the ball away each and every time, but it never comes out for me, Peterson said. Its a God-given gift that those guys have to get the ball out when they want. INJURY UPDATE For the Cardinals: WR Early Doucet (concussion), S Rashad Johnson (hamstring) and S James Sanders (calf) did not practice. DE Calais Campbell (calf), G Mike Gibson (calf), LB Quentin Groves (foot), TE Rob Housler (knee), FB Anthony Sherman (knee), OT Nate Potter (knee), NT Dan Williams (hamstring), CB Greg Toler (hamstring) and DE Ronald Talley (ankle) were limited. LS Mike Leach (backshoulder) practiced fully. For the Bears: LB Brian Urlacher (hamstring) and OT Jonathan Scott (hamstring) did not practice. WR Earl Bennett (concussion), CB Tim Jennings (shoulder), DE Shea McClellin (knee) DT Henry Melton (chest) and LB Geno Hayes (knee) were limited. Jennings leads the NFL in interceptions with eight, but has missed the past two weeks. Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter

NFL Rumors: Brian Urlacher Reiterates Lack Of Care For Chicago Bears Fans

Brian Urlacher has ripped Chicago Bears’ fans in the past. He has openly discussed his feelings toward the fans and the media, and that only increases after a tough loss. Dropping a home game late in the season against the Green Bay Packers in a key NFC North divisional battle certainly constitutes a tough loss. Any guess as to which two sorts of people Urlacher was ripping after...

Oh Tee Hee, Pointedly Altered Jay Cutler Jersey

This is a banner week for Packers fans being dicks to their NFC North rivals. While this Packers fan’s alteration of a Jay Cutler jersey isn’t quite as great as the Packers fan photobomb of a Vikings couple at Lambeau, it does involve making fun of Jay Cutler and that’s worth something. Anyway, some dude took a Jay Cutler jersey and made it into a Pick-Six jersey. It’s funny...

Bears Injury Report: Brandon Marshall, Earl Bennett, Brian Urlacher

Chicago Bears wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Earl Bennett were both limited at Thursday’s practice, while the team has already ruled out linebacker Brian Urlacher for this weekend’s matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, reports Michael C. Wright of ESPN Chicago. The Chicago Bears added receiver Brandon Marshall (hamstring) and linebacker Blake Costanzo (calf) to their...

Bears place Bush on IR with rib injury

The Chicago Bears have placed running back Michael Bush on season-ending injured reserve because of a rib injury and signed Kahlil Bell to take his place. Losing Bush is another blow for the struggling Bears. They've dropped five of six after a 7-1 start and are coming off a loss to Green Bay that clinched the NFC North for the Packers. Chicago needs help to make the playoffs...

Daughter cashed dead dad's pension

The daughter of a former Chicago Bears player from the 1950s is accused of illegally collecting money from an NFL pension plan years after her father's death. Constance Helwig-Langlois was charged Wednesday with fraud in Detroit. She's the daughter of John Helwig, who played defense for the Bears. Federal prosecutors say the NFL retirement plan kept sending checks to John...

Is Lovie Smith on the Hot Seat?

Lovie Smith (Photo credit: Wikipedia) The Chicago Bears came into the 2012 NFL Season with a goal, to once again become Super Bowl Champions. The Bears missed the playoffs last season due to a handful of injuries and a poor offense. They lacked an elite play making WR and a consistent Quarterback. So the Bears made a statement in the past NFL off-season. They went out and snagged...

Chicago Bears: Week 16 NFL Power Rankings (#10)

Last week: 10 (+0) Record: 8-6 Net points per drive: 0.31 (9th) DVOA: 18.9% (6th) Weighted DVOA: 17.0% (6th) I detailed the Giants/Bears battle for the 6th seed in the Giants’ write up. The Bears should take care of their business and beat the Cardinals and Detroit. They’ve beaten everyone they’re supposed to, going 7-0 SU as favorites of 3.5 or more this year. That would put...

Bears Place Bush On Season-Ending IR And Welcome Back Bell To The Roster

Running back Michael Bush was placed on season ending injured reserve on Tuesday with a ribs injury. He becomes the eighth Bear to be placed on injured reserve this season. The injury is being referred to as cartilage damage in his ribs rather then broken ribs. The Bears announced the signing of running back Kahlil Bell as well on Tuesday. Bush hurt his ribs in the Bears’ 23-17...

Five Players to Watch: Week 16

After starting the season 7-1, the Chicago Bears have been in a free fall, winning just one game in their last six. The offense has continued to sputter while, not as dominate as it was earlier in the season, the defense continues to put the team in a position to win. With just two games left, the Bears will likely need to win out and have some help along the way if they want to...

Bears-Cardinals Preview

The Chicago Bears' prolonged slump has left them likely needing victories in back-to-back road games and some help to reach the playoffs. The Bears will seek the first of those wins Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, who are eager to build on the end to a lengthy skid. It appeared Chicago would easily make it to the postseason after a 7-1 start, but losses in five of the...
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.