One down, 15 to go for the Arizona Cardinals.
Bruce Arians’ team started the season in convincing fashion with a 31-19 win over the New Orleans Saints Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
But the Cards won’t have the luxury of playing at home, where they’ve won six straight openers, in Week 2. They’re off to Chicago to take on the new-look Bears at Soldier Field Sunday.
Part of that new look for the Bears is on the sideline, as John Fox takes over for Marc Trestman as Chicago’s new head coach. The Bears dropped their opener, 31-23, to the Green Bay Packers Sunday. Despite the loss, there is plenty of optimism about the direction the team is taking. They played a good game against one of the NFC’s top teams and Fox has led two franchises — Carolina and Denver — to Super Bowl appearances.
All week long, we’ll get you ready for the Cardinals-Bears showdown by taking you to Chicago and letting you know what’s going on with the opposition. It’s Behind Enemy Lines: Week 2.
Friday, September 18
“You look at him – he’s 6-foot-1, 220 pounds and then he runs a 4.3 40-yard dash,” Cutler said. “You see him jam guys and then run with anybody on the field. He’s got unbelievable ball skills. He’s a guy you have to be aware of and you have to know where he is at. He’s not a guy you really want to take a lot of chances with.”
The former Cardinals starting outside linebacker is finally over a rough stretch that derailed a promising start to the preseason. Several weeks ago Acho contracted a non-football related illness that knocked him out of commission and off the roster for Week 1 — the Chicago Bears cut Acho the day before their 31-23 loss to Green Bay.
One of the Bears’ best pass-rushers went backward on the injury report as outside linebacker Pernell McPhee missed Thursday’s practice with wrist and knee injuries.
• ‘State of Jay Cutler’ still a question for Bears going into Week 2 (CSNChicago.com)
Against that backdrop came the first game for Cutler under the new scheme – and mindset – for the offense, and for him. With time to assess, the overall reveals some major progress in the development of Cutler, yet at the same time a sign of steps still needed to be taken.
• Go Figure: Will Jay Cutler’s streak of Week 2 magic continue? (Chicago Tribune)
4-2: Cutler’s record as a Bear in Week 2 games. Last season, Cutler aided a rally from 17-0 down in the second quarter and threw four TD passes (three to Brandon Marshall) to land a 28-20 upset of the 49ers. In 2013, Cutler led a 10-play, 66-yard scoring drive on the Bears’ final possession against the Vikings, throwing a 16-yard TD to Martellus Bennett with 10 seconds left to produce a 31-30 win.
• Vladimir Ducasse’s journey from Haiti to Halas Hall (Chicago Sun-Times)
Ducasse didn’t see a football until high school. He was born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. His mother died when he was 5. At 14, and with his family seeking a better life for him, he was sent to Stamford, Conn., to live with his brother, aunt and uncle.
• Alshon Jeffery is questionable with hamstring injury (Chicago Sun-Times)
Jeffery is now dealing with a hamstring injury after a strained calf issue for the past couple of weeks. He was held out of practice because of the injury and is now questionable for Sunday. His calf injury is also still listed.
Thursday, September 17
It didn’t take long for Jay Cutler to like Bruce Arians.
The two met when Arians interviewed with the Chicago Bears in early January 2013, soon after Lovie Smith was fired, and they instantly clicked.
The biggest injury development on Wednesday for the Chicago Bears was that wide receivers Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson had full participation in practice, according to head coach John Fox.
Brian Urlacher said Tuesday he might have kept playing for the Bears if John Fox had replaced Lovie Smith after the 2012 regular season.
“I would have wanted to play more because of Coach Fox,” Urlacher said on “The Waddle and Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000.
Former Cardinals starting outside linebacker Sam Acho just recently re-signed with Chicago where he’s become more of a special teams guy. This piece is book-ended with Acho reflecting on his time in Arizona.
• Pernell McPhee held out of practice with a wrist and knee injury (Windy City Gridiron)
Of course no specifics were offered up except a wrist and knee injury, but starting outside linebacker Pernell McPhee went from “limited” Wednesday to “did not practice” Thursday.
• Jay Cutler hopes healthy WRs add new dimension (Chicago Sun-Times)
This is the first time in six weeks the entire receiving unit has been healthy and Jay Cutler things it’s going to be a huge difference-maker. The guy he’s most excited about? Alshon Jeffery who they are hoping could loosen up the Bears’ rush.
• Vic Fangio knows Bears’ enemies, but themselves? (Chicago Sun-Times)
He knows the Cardinals — “You can definitely tell in meetings for sure,” inside linebacker Shea McClellin said — and he’s trying to ensure the Bears do, too.
They’ve been watching last year’s Cardinals-49ers games for perspective.
• Bears OLB Jared Allen has options in Vic Fangio’s defense (Chicago Sun-Times)
Jared Allen still loves to plant his hand in the grass. It still feels right after months of learning how to play in an upright two-point stance in coordinator Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense.
• Bears forming an identity, but what exactly is it? (CSNChicago.com)
The mid-1980’s Bears had their identity; very, very good, and they annihilated people physically. The early 1970’s Bears theirs; not very good at all and seemed at times to play for the annihilation as much as the scoreboard, although there wasn’t always a lot of point playing for the latter. The 1940’s Bears were the Monsters of the Midway.
Wednesday, September 16
• Bears begin prepping to host Cardinals (ChicagoBears.com)
Three days after their season-opening loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Bears return to the practice field Wednesday to prepare for Sunday’s home game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Forte’s offensive output in Week 1 offset concerns that his production would fall off the proverbial cliff once he turned 30.
Forte carried the ball 24 times for 141 yards and one touchdown, to the surprise of almost no one inside the Bears’ locker room.
“He’s a Haitian guy, so he has an extremely thick accent,” Long said with a chuckle. “I’m not quite sure what the accent is. None of us have really figured it out. There’s literally a language barrier at first. He’d be making calls to me, and I’d be like, ‘Dude, I don’t understand what you are saying.’ We had to come up with our own words and stuff.”
• Three things Bears are watching in Cardinals prep (Chicago Sun-Times)
Antrel Rolle thinks the Bears remind him of the Cardinals, his former team.
But which ones? The Cardinals were 5-11 in his first two seasons before going 8-8 and then, in 2008, turning a 9-7 record into a Super Bowl appearance.
• Bears waive third-string QB Fales (ChicagoBears.com)
Selected in the sixth round of the 2014 draft out of San Jose State, he spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad. Fales was promoted to the 53-man roster last Dec. 13, but he did not appear in a game.
After sinking to humiliating depths nine months ago, the Chicago Bears are a bona fide football team again. That much is certain after a season-opening 31-23 loss to the Green Bay Packers in which Aaron Rodgers actually had to work for his three touchdown passes. There’s no such thing as a moral victory in the NFL. But the Bears certainly came away from Sunday’s defeat with reasons to be encouraged.
• Deadly turnover far from the whole Jay Cutler story in Bears loss (CSNChicago.com)
The pass that Jay Cutler threw to Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews in the Bears’ 31-23 loss last Sunday rightly has drawn arguably as much scrutiny as any interception Cutler has thrown in his years as Bears quarterback. There have been more bewildering jaw-droppers, but this was supposed to have been an improved model Cutler with the support of a run game and a more efficient offensive philosophy under coordinator Adam Gase.
Tuesday, September 15
The Bears terminated Acho’s contract last Saturday due to a non-football illness, but a roster spot opened up after Washington suffered a season-ending injury in the Bears’ 31-23 loss to Green Bay.
Down 24-16, the Bears had first-and-goal at Green Bay’s 6-yard line, but failed to score as four straight Jay Cutler passes fell incomplete.
“I think he did a tremendous job of managing our game, getting us in the right position, making the right calls, and protecting the ball for us,” Chicago Bears left tackle Jermon Bushrod said.
• How much are the Bears worth? Team’s $2.45 billion is 8th in NFL (Chicago Tribune)
This is the 18th year that Forbes has compiled valuations of NFL teams. Some teams consistently rank high up the list (Cowboys ranked first the last 9 consecutive years), while the Bears are ranked at 8th.
• In defense of Jay Cutler, sort of, after up-and-down game (Chicago Sun-Times)
But I actually thought he played fairly well in the season opener. Can you say that after a quarterback tosses a game-changing pass to the other team? We can debate the question forever, and Cutler probably will never get the benefit of the doubt in these situations. But he played the prudent game that the new coaching staff wanted him to play, the way the ghost of coaching staffs past wanted him to play.
• First-and-10: Bears must improve their pass rush (Chicago Sun-Times)
There are some positives to draw from, but the Bears’ pass rush isn’t one of them. It was nonexistent. It’s one aspect that has to improve considerably, at individual and team levels, against the Arizona Cardinals and beyond. The Bears didn’t get one hit on Rodgers.
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