Overcoming injuries not in Bears’ game plan
By Rick Telander email@example.com December 18, 2011 10:06PM
Caleb Hanie watches from the sideline after getting pulled for Josh McCown in the fourth quarter. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: January 20, 2012 8:15AM
Injuries are part of the NFL, right?
So when skinny Bears receiver Johnny Knox was bent, folded and stapled by Seattle Seahawks 6-3, 272-pound defensive end Anthony Hargrove only minutes into the game Sunday, then removed on a stretcher, it was just part of the deal.
It’s good that Knox can feel, talk and apparently walk. Real good. Also good that surgery should fix him. A lot of our spines wouldn’t bend that way at all.
But injuries have blown up the Bears this season.
Basically, the offense.
That means starting quarterback Jay Cutler and starting running back Matt Forte.
Since Cutler left, the Bears are 0-4 and have been outscored 86-47.
With Caleb Hanie at quarterback, the Bears can beat no one. Hanie’s stats in this dreadful 38-14 loss to the Seahawks were 10-for-23, 111 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns, with a quarterback rating of 33.3.
For the season, he has a 41.8 rating.
How bad is that?
Consider that the execrable Craig Krenzel had a rating of 52.5 for the Bears in 2004. And Brian Griese had a 75.6 rating in 2007.
Who else is hurt?
Well, offensive tackle Gabe Carimi and now Knox, and safeties Major Wright and Chris Conte. And . . . hmmm.
Maybe there aren’t that many Bears hurt when you get down to it. Not in a league based on hurtin’.
Of course, alleged wannabe drug kingpin and wide receiver Sam Hurd also is out, but he might be out for 20 years. Right now, it’s hard to get a read on Homeland Security’s defensive alignment.
‘‘To go on a four-game losing streak, no, that wasn’t part of my mind-set,’’ coach Lovie Smith said after the Seahawks outscored the Bears 31-0 in the last 32 minutes. ‘‘But we lost a lot injury-wise. But you know everyone in the league will talk about injury and the people they’ve lost.’’
Yep. That’s the deal.
And how is it that a team such as the Houston Texans can lose starting quarterback Matt Schaub and backup Matt Leinart but still win three games with a third-stringer named T.J. Yates?
Why doesn’t that happen in Chicago?
The Bears’ defense even scored the team’s first touchdown, giving the ‘‘O’’ a jump-start.
But Hanie gave that back with one of his two pick-sixes, and his four sacks for minus-34 yards neatly nullified his 34 yards gained on five runs.
Maybe what we’re seeing is bad team-building, bad coaching, bad adapting and bad damn everything.
It starts at the top, doesn’t it?
If players routinely get injured in the NFL, who thought Hanie, a losing quarterback at average Colorado State, would be a qualified replacement for Cutler?
That right there is a decision of destruction.
And the fact that Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Martz can’t seem to make a game plan that is simple enough for Hanie or that exploits the young man’s skills, whatever those might be, is a crime.
Otherwise, if this is the best quarterback general manager Jerry Angelo could find, where are Chad Hutchinson, Jeff Blake, Moses Moreno?
With Forte and Knox injured, the Bears have their best runner (Forte has 997 yards) and their two leading receivers (90 catches for 1,217 yards) out for the year.
Other guys need to step up. That’s how it works. And coaches must go into overdrive.
If the Bears quit against the Seahawks, then that is a sin beyond easy redemption.
It’s also possible they’re just delusional.
‘‘It’s been a tough week for us,’’ said Smith, meaning the loss, but also the fish-to-the-face thrill of finding out your backup wide receiver won’t be attending any more meetings because the feds say he’s trying to purchase up to 10 kilos of cocaine and half a ton of pot per week.
Naturally, Smith added, ‘‘Things will get better.’’
Against the 13-1 Green Bay Packers next Sunday, up there?
You sure nobody else will be indicted for something?
One good thing is we got to see Josh McCown play ball.
The backup to the backup quarterback also looked wretched, but he was thrown out there at junk time, which might explain why he completed two passes — one to a Bear, one to a Seahawk.
‘‘Absolutely,’’ McCown said when asked if it’s tough to enter down 24 points after not having thrown a game ball in two years, having thrown but eight since 2007. ‘‘It’s not ideal, but you try to be professional.’’
Hear that, Bears?