Already near the bottom of the NFL in most defensive statistical categories and losers of three of their last four games, the Chicago Bears received more bad news Monday when they learned QB Jay Cutler and seven time All-Pro LB Lance Briggs will be sidelined between four-six weeks with groin and shoulder injuries respectively.
The injuries are the latest blow to a team trying to reinvent itself under first-year head coach Marc Trestman. Cutler’s loss robs the Bears of both their offensive cog and leader. After years of offensive mediocrity, the Bears rank second in points scored after seven weeks of play. Josh McCown was solid in Sunday’s relief role, but doesn’t possess the arm or playmaking skills of Cutler.
There’s no immediate replacement for Briggs, who was the Bears defensive player thus far in 2013. He remains an active presence and makes up for any loss of speed with instincts and veteran savvy. Prior to getting hurt Sunday, Briggs stood out as the only defender who consistently flashed. The hope is he will heal quicker than the six-week timeframe. Rookie Jon Bostic or veteran James Anderson will be asked to take over the defensive playcalls.
Trestman tried to paint the glass as half full during Monday’s press briefing, though even the most ardent Bears supporters realize that missing arguably your top two players isn’t exactly a recipe for success. “Arguably we’re going to have to work very, very hard to recover, but that doesn’t say we can’t,” Trestman said. “It’s been done before, we’ve got time to work through it and there’s no reason why as a football team that we can’t be confident we can rally around that position, find a way to win games.”
The Bears have two weeks to figure out how.
Paw Prints: The Bears signed QB Jordan Palmer and released backup TE Steve Maneri. Palmer joined the team late in training camp and played well during the preseason finale. Maneri, who signed as a free agent last spring, was a converted tackle who was primarily a blocker. He was inactive the last several games…..The Bears also released WR Ricardo Lockette from the practice squad….Heading the defensive players under scrutiny, the long list includes DE Julius Peppers, who no longer is a playmaking force. He’s been locked up and taken out of the play by a single blocker the last several weeks. Former first-rounder Shea McClellin has also been disappointing, and the safety tandem of Major Wright and Chris Conte abysmal….GM Phil Emery continues to explore trade opportunities prior to the October 29 deadline but remains cautious. “Trades aren’t dependent on injury perspective,” Emery said. “Trades are dependent on getting correct value in the exchange. … When you don’t get equal value, you can put the team in a position, short- and long-term, of not being where you want to be roster-wise. So until we find one of equal value that works for both teams, we won’t make a trade.”