Curran: On Cutler and Ochocinco

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Curran: On Cutler and Ochocinco

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com

On his final play of the 2010 NFC Championship game, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler walked up behind his center without a noticeable limp. He took the snapand dropped back on a third-and-4 play. He tried to hit Devin Hester on a little flip, hopping in the air as he released. The ball short-hopped Hester and Cutler trudged off the field and into the teeth of a great debate.Hurt or not hurt was the initial issue. But other topics have been swept into the cyclone now. Toughness, pain thresholds, the propriety of NFL players criticizing peers, the propriety of anyoneholding an opinion on whether a player is too hurt to play,the need to protect players . . . all are subjects that have been sucked up and swirled around in the mouth of the NFL watching world like so much gargle.
NFL players -- current and former -- lined up to skewer Cutler for "tapping out" (Deion Sanders' description) of a game so meaningful. The avalanche buried Cutler's reputation alive. And since then, the Bears organization -- coaches and teammates -- has been digging Cutler out. It was their decision to take Cutler out, they maintained. He wanted to go back in. "You never want a player to be on the field if he can't protect himself," said Chicago coach Lovie Smith.Let's hitthe pause button on the entire discussion. What did we see? Isn't that what matters instead of the words of an organization bent on saving its franchise quarterback's tattered psyche and torn reputation? When exactly did Cutler appear in danger of being unable to move nimbly enough to elude pressure? Which throw announced thata damaged Cutler was a lesser option than fossilized Todd Collins or untested Caleb Hanie?Itsure didn't look like the last throw. Nor did it look like Cutler couldn't protect himself on the preceding play, a handoff toMatt Forte on which Cutler turned and actually threw a pretty solid block on a Green Bay defender coming off the edge. Was it the pick that he threw with 37 seconds left in the half to Sam Shields, a ball that traveled 40 yards downfield with the flick of a wrist? On none of those plays did Jay Cutler look like a player who needed to be rescued. Now, if the Bears want to say he looked ineffective because he was favoring his knee, that's one thing. That's plausible. Even if he didn't appear to be limping much (or at all), the pick and the short-hop were weak throws. But so were several others before Cutler was sacked by Shields just after the two-minute warning, the play that likelycaused the MCL spraintearowie.What isn't plausible is the idea that Jay Cutler was in imminent danger on Sunday. And what we saw means a whole lot more than what everyone else says. Or it should. AS THE OCHO TURNSRecently, Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco cooed via Twitter about the possibility of being wedded football-wise to the Patriots. In a tweet directed to The Herald's Ian Rapoport, Ocho said "PePe and Bill EPIC." Rap, like a good Rap should, stomped over to Bengals coach Marvin Lewis down at the Senior Bowl on Monday and asked Lewis about Ocho (who still has a year left on his Bengals contract) playing for the Patriots. "Belichick's smarter than that,"Lewis said to Rapoport. Rap mentioned the Patriots' trading for Randy Moss in 2007. Lewis countered with a "How's that working out for them . . ." response. Meanwhile, Ocho was showing some leg to another would-be AFC East opportunity. On this week's episode of the T. Ocho Show, Ochocinco said of the New York Jets, "They will make it to this point deep in the playoffs every year. Id do anything to play for someone like Rex Ryan, or anyone who has that type of mentality.T.O., never one to merely nod and regard thoughtfully, said (in short), "Hey, me too!"How Belichick is "someone like Rex Ryan" is a mystery. But the simple fact that Ryan's approach serves as bait for "me-first" players like T.O. and Ocho certainly will make it interesting for Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum. "If you build it, they will come . . . "

Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Belichick: Sunday a 'rare opportunity' to watch upcoming opponent live

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Belichick: Sunday a 'rare opportunity' to watch upcoming opponent live

How do the Patriots handle Sundays after Thursday night games? Bill Belichick says he won't be glued to the television as New England's next opponent, Buffalo, takes on Arizona. But he will be watching and thinking through situations as they play out live. 

"I think for today, we've done preparation work on the Bills in their first two games, so this is one of those rare opportunities where you can kind of watch the game with a little bit of an idea of how you would want to play it or what you would want to do in certain situations," Belichick said in a conference call on Sunday. "Then, obviously not knowing what they'll do, kind of see how that goes, see what they'll do in those situations compared to what you think they're going to do. Or have they come up with something else, or is this situation a little bit different and has that changed their strategy or play-calling or whatever that happens to be?"

One of the elements of the game that Belichick may give a little extra thought to is how the Bills run their offense under new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, who replaced Greg Roman after Roman was fired following Buffalo's Week 2 loss to the Jets.

"Obviously, with a new coordinator, defensively we'll have to pay attention and see what changes or modifications they will make this week," Belichick said. "That may be an ongoing process. I don't know if they do decide to change things whether they could get it all done this week or maybe it would take a period of time, but we'll kind of keep our eye on that.

"In the end, we'll have the film by the end of the day today so that'll answer a lot more questions than the live part of it will. But the live part of it, I'd say as we're working on the scouting report for Buffalo, you can kind of have that game on in the background, sort of keep your eye on it, and see how it goes. But I wouldn't say we're just glued to the TV because we'll see everything that we need to see in a matter of hours anyway."

Belichick concerned about availability of QBs? 'Injury report on Wednesday'

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Belichick concerned about availability of QBs? 'Injury report on Wednesday'

Bill Belichick has a pair of young quarterbacks dealing with injuries at the moment. Jimmy Garoppolo was inactive for Thursday's win over the Texans due to a Grade 2 AC joint sprain he endured in Week 2 against the Dolphins, and Jacoby Brissett sustained a minor injury to his right thumb in his first pro start last week. 

Asked if he was concerned about either player being available for New England's Week 4 contest against the Bills, Belichick didn't provide much in the way of hints one way or another.

"Well, we'll all give our injury report on Wednesday, as we always do, as we're required to do," Belichick said. "Based on where things are at that point, that'll be represented in the report."

If there's concern over both quarterbacks as the team gets closer to its final game without Tom Brady, it may be forced to add a quarterback so as not to subject an emergency option, like receiver Julian Edelman, to extended snaps behind center.