Robbie Gould laments drama

December, 22, 2014
Dec 22
1:50
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[+] EnlargeJay Cutler
Patrick McDermott/Getty ImagesRobbie Gould defended embattled quarterback Jay Cutler on Monday. "Jay is not the problem. Jay is not the issue," Gould said.

Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould spoke out Monday in support of benched quarterback Jay Cutler, and later said much of the team's drama under head coach Marc Trestman "isn't the Chicago Bear way."

The kicker was asked Monday during "The Speigel and Mannelly Show" on WSCR-AM 670 Monday whether Trestman was trying to send a message last week to the team when he decided to bench Cutler.

"I honestly don't even know what the message is," Gould said. "I just think it's been a long season. I think he thought maybe he thought this was going to provide a spark to the team. That's what he told us. I wish Jay were out there playing. [Trestman] did address the team the next day and talked about what happened. He made a decision he thought was best for the team, and listen, we lost again. That's the bottom line."


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Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman remained noncommittal on Monday about keeping Jimmy Clausen in the starting lineup, coming off the quarterback’s performance Sunday during a 20-14 loss to the Detroit Lions.

“We’ll talk about it today,” Trestman said Monday on WBBM Newsradio 780. “I thought he had a good performance. He needed some help, he didn’t get it; had a few drops along the way, had a couple of missed assignments up front in the running game that we could have had a little bit more yardage in the run game.”

Clausen
With Jay Cutler, the NFL’s highest-paid offensive player, backing him up, Clausen passed for two touchdowns and an interception in the loss to Detroit, generating a passer rating of 77.0. Clausen passed for just 181 yards on the day against a Lions defense that entered the contest ranked No. 1 in the NFL in points allowed (17.0) and second in total yards (300.3-yard average).

The quarterback was able to do that with little prep time and without starting left guard Kyle Long, who was a last-minute scratch due to a hip injury.

“I thought he handled himself, for two practices, and having not played for four years, certainly a good performance,” Trestman said.

When Trestman first announced the decision to bench Cutler in favor of Clausen, the coach paused for nearly five seconds when asked whether general manager Phil Emery was on board with the move. Trestman declined to revisit the decision when asked whether benching Cutler was the right move.

“Well, you never look back in this business. You can’t do that,” Trestman said. “You can only move forward, and you have to live with the decisions that you’ve made.”

Obviously, a major component of that is whether Trestman will keep his job as head coach given the decision to bench Cutler, along with myriad other factors such as the team’s disappointing record with so many offensive weapons after a promising 2013 campaign, not to mention serious concerns expressed inside the locker room regarding what players view as a lack of accountability for some and uneven discipline levied by the coach.

Trestman indicated ownership has not yet hinted at his fate.

“As I said to the media during the last couple of weeks, when you’re a 5-10 coach, everything is on the table,” Trestman said. “All I can say is inside everybody has been very supportive.”
Finally, we’re just six days away from a dismal Chicago Bears season coming to an end. Hallelujah.

But given all that has happened, perhaps the end goes on as just the beginning with so many decisions to be made and changes on the horizon.

Let’s take a quick spin around the Bears beat:

-- Here’s Jeff Dickerson’s look at five things we learned from Sunday’s game, and he doesn’t mince words regarding Bears head coach Marc Trestman.
Dickerson writes: Trestman needs to be stripped of his control over the 46-man active game-day roster for the decision to keep Jay Cutler active on Sunday. Under no circumstances can the Bears expose Cutler to unnecessary injury in the final two weeks, even if the eventual offseason plan calls for the organization to keep Cutler in 2015. Cutler’s season is finished. It’s over. He has completely checked out. He’s done with Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. Accept it, and move on.

Here’s more: Now, let’s say the Bears plan to shop Cutler around to other teams. The very idea of Cutler serving as the No. 2 in two meaningless games, in that scenario, is pure madness. Let me repeat: pure madness. I understand Trestman wants to win another game. His credibility and reputation are under attack. But the future of the franchise is far more important. Whether Bears fans want to admit it or not, Cutler is an extremely important piece of the puzzle moving forward, trade or no trade. Subjecting him to further risk is foolish. Let Joe DeCamillis coach the season finale in Minnesota. Trestman is worried about his own interests, not the organization's. When that happens, it’s time for change, even if one is already scheduled to occur Dec. 29.

-- Here’s Dickerson’s report card.

-- Jon Greenberg writes the Bears played a solid Lions team close, but they certainly didn’t take solace in that performance, which resulted in their 10th loss.
Greenberg writes: In what could be a franchise-changing season, the Bears have lost 10 games, and only three were by single digits: a 23-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills in the season opener, a 31-24 loss to the Carolina Panthers and now, this game.

All three of those games were at home, so don't say the Bears don't appreciate their fans. Chicago went 2-6 at Soldier Field, the same as in 2004, which was Lovie Smith's first season as coach.

They can tie the 2004 team for the worst record in the past decade with a loss at the Minnesota Vikings next week, or they could win for the first time since Nov. 23.

Either way, this one will go down as one of the team's most disappointing seasons in the modern era. It might be No. 1.

-- This link to Todd McShay’s first 2015 mock draft is a few days old but definitely worth revisiting considering Chicago might not win another game, which should improve the team’s draft position. It’s tough to know which direction the Bears should go with their pick because of all the uncertainty. We don’t yet know what the future is for Jay Cutler, Trestman or general manager Phil Emery. With that said, I’m not sure I like McShay’s projection here. The position McShay projects the Bears addressing with their first-round pick might be a little too rich (unless he’s an absolute slam dunk) with the team expected to pick so high.

-- Mike Shanahan believes Cutler is still a franchise quarterback. Emery probably agrees. But the quarterback’s body of work over nine seasons suggests otherwise from this vantage point.

-- Over at the Chicago Tribune, David Haugh says don’t be fooled by Jimmy Clausen’s mediocre performance against the Lions. It proved absolutely nothing and certainly doesn’t help Trestman’s job security. Sadly, he’s correct.
Haugh writes: Overall, Clausen did a nice job representing himself as a bona fide NFL backup, nothing more. Clausen was the smelling salts to a sleepy offense, making quick decisions and smart throws. He prevented bad plays from outnumbering big ones and brought as much enthusiasm as efficiency. He improved his job prospects for 2015 — but not Trestman's. Don't fall for that.

Remember, the career Trestman was hired to save was Cutler's, not Clausen's.

Trestman's potential last game at Soldier Field will go down as one of the most irrelevant of his brief tenure. A win would have changed nothing about the Bears future, which Chairman George McCaskey should begin altering as early as Monday. A six-point loss simply reminded us what everybody already knew about the present; that no matter who plays quarterback, Trestman's game-day coaching cannot compensate for a growing talent deficit management cannot ignore.

-- The Chicago Sun-Times has a nice rundown of the team’s reaction to Dominic Raiola stomping on Ego Ferguson’s ankle. Raiola can say whatever he wants, but the tape doesn’t lie.

Jim Caldwell believes Dom Raiola

December, 22, 2014
Dec 22
10:54
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell said he believes his center, Dominic Raiola, when he said he inadvertently stepped on Chicago defensive lineman Ego Ferguson's ankle Sunday, but he can also see why the NFL is looking into the play.

Caldwell also said "it could be a possibility" the Lions will be without Raiola on Sunday when the Lions face Green Bay for the NFC North title and a potential first-round bye in the playoffs.

Raiola stepped on Ferguson's ankle in the third quarter of Detroit's 20-14 win over Chicago. The NFL told ESPN on Monday it was reviewing the play for possible discipline against Raiola.

"Obviously, I took a good look at it, both the coaches and also the television copy as well," Caldwell said. "I believe what Dom told me, that it was inadvertent, but I can also see why obviously it's being reviewed by the league and everybody's taking a real good look at it. You can also see the other side of that as well."

Caldwell said he spoke with Raiola on Monday morning but didn't want to get into details of the conversation between the two.

"It's like anything else, when it's a tough situation to deal with, you're not feeling real good," Caldwell said. "I think that's obvious."

Raiola said after the game he didn't intentionally step on Ferguson's ankle and apologized to him after the game. He also explained to Chicago offensive lineman Roberto Garza, a friend of Raiola's, what happened and wanted to reiterate he didn't mean to do that intentionally.

"I apologized at the end of the game, told him it was unintentional and we shook hands and that was it," Raiola said.


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Jeff Dickerson and Michael C. Wright break down the Bears' 20-14 loss to the Lions in Week 16.

Five things we learned: Lions 20, Bears 14

December, 21, 2014
Dec 21
8:30
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CHICAGO -- Here are five things we learned in the Chicago Bears' 20-14 loss to the Detroit Lions:

1. Marc Trestman needs to be fired, immediately: Trestman needs to be stripped of his control over the 46-man active game-day roster for the decision to keep Jay Cutler active on Sunday. Under no circumstances can the Bears expose Cutler to unnecessary injury in the final two weeks, even if the eventual offseason plan calls for the organization to keep Cutler in 2015. Cutler’s season is finished. It’s over. He has completely checked out. He’s done with Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. Accept it, and move on. Let’s say the Bears ultimately decide Cutler gives them the best shot to win next year. The last thing the organization wants is for Cutler to be pressed into relief duty versus Detroit or Minnesota, likely unprepared, and suffer an injury that affects his availability for the (presumably) new head coach's offseason program or, even worse, triggers the injury-protection clause in Cutler’s contract. Most potential head-coaching candidates (save Mike Shanahan) will be leery of working with Cutler, even if he’s healthy. A beat-up Cutler only makes the sales job that much harder for the Bears organization in coming months. Now, let’s say the Bears plan to shop Cutler around to other teams. The very idea of Cutler serving as the No. 2 in two meaningless games, in that scenario, is pure madness. Let me repeat: pure madness. I understand Trestman wants to win another game. His credibility and reputation are under attack. But the future of the franchise is far more important. Whether Bears fans want to admit it or not, Cutler is an extremely important piece of the puzzle moving forward, trade or no trade. Subjecting him to further risk is foolish. Let Joe DeCamillis coach the season finale in Minnesota. Trestman is worried about his own interests, not the organization's. When that happens, it’s time for change, even if one is already scheduled to occur Dec. 29.

2. Jimmy Clausen is a legitimate No. 2: Clausen belongs in the NFL next year in a reserve role. Congratulations. Clausen played OK: 23-of-39 for 181 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Some wondered if Clausen even deserved to be in the league. He does. Clausen clearly took his role seriously and put in the necessary work to learn the offense, without the benefit of practice snaps, over the past five or six months. Clausen might struggle next week versus a scrappy Minnesota Vikings team, but decent No. 2 quarterbacks are difficult to find. Clausen is decent. He should have no trouble finding work in the offseason, either in Chicago or someplace else.

3. Keep Jeremiah Ratliff: Whatever defense the Bears run in 2015 needs to include Ratliff, who is under contract through next year. Ratliff is a leader. He also happens to be the best player on defense. Ratliff is intimidating. The veteran defensive tackle does an excellent job holding teammates accountable. The only issue is durability. The Bears need Ratliff to stay healthy for all 16 games next season, because if he does, Ratliff remains capable of playing at a Pro Bowl level. He might be the most underrated player on the team.

4. Suspend Dominic Raiola: Raiola is a cheap-shot artist. Stomping on the back foot of a prone and unsuspecting Ego Ferguson was a pure amateur-hour move. Raiola has the reputation of a dirty player. He is not a first-time offender but tends to fly under the radar due to the highly publicized behavior of teammate Ndamukong Suh. Two games would be an appropriate punishment for Raiola. Force him to miss the first round of the playoffs. Ferguson said it best: “We all saw the play. You can’t take back what happened with that play. I don’t have to explain that.” The NFL should act swiftly. A 14-year veteran ought to know better.

5. When did Detroit rehire Jim Schwartz? The Lions got lucky Sunday. Detroit self-destructed on several instances and played undisciplined football. Lions fans were accustomed to that style of play under ex-head coach Jim Schwartz, but not Jim Caldwell. Detroit better clean it up. Otherwise their postseason run will be a brief one.
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Lions reporter Michael Rothstein honors RB Joique Bell, whose spinning 17-yard game-winning touchdown run gave the Lions yet another comeback victory. Bears reporter Michael Wright honors QB Jimmy Clausen for throwing for 181 yards and two touchdowns.

No moral victories in close loss

December, 21, 2014
Dec 21
7:41
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CHICAGO -- It was an almost-win for the history books.

For the first time since Oct. 5 -- a span of six losses by an average of 21.3 points -- the Chicago Bears lost by only single digits: 20-14 to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Pop the RC Cola reserve, McCaskey family. A six-point loss! They covered the spread!

Oh wait, this also tied for the fewest points the Bears have scored all season. Cancel the Jimmy Clausen statue dedication. But still -- close loss! Close loss!

In what could be a franchise-changing season, the Bears have lost 10 games, and only three were by single digits: a 23-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills in the season opener, a 31-24 loss to the Carolina Panthers and now, this game.

Two of those games were at home, so don't say the Bears don't appreciate their fans. Chicago went 2-6 at Soldier Field, the same as in 2004, which was Lovie Smith's first season as coach.

They can tie the 2004 team for the worst record in the past decade with a loss at the Minnesota Vikings next week, or they could win for the first time since Nov. 23.

Either way, this one will go down as one of the team's most disappointing seasons in the modern era. It might be No. 1.

"I've said this far too many times over the last few weeks," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "We have a disappointed locker room in there."

At least there's only one game left in the season -- and likely in the Trestman era, as well.

Before this season, we had Brandon Marshall


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CHICAGO -- The body-language police likely focused a critical eye on Jay Cutler during Chicago’s 20-14 loss Sunday to the Detroit Lions, but behind the scenes, the benched quarterback spent extra time at Halas Hall preparing Jimmy Clausen for his first start since his rookie season with the Carolina Panthers in 2010.

Cutler
“He was involved during the week in the meetings, actively and vocally involved,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said of Cutler. “Today, he did what you would expect him to do. He was with Jimmy and [quarterbacks coach] Matt [Cavanaugh] between series and was part of the dialogue.”

Clausen threw two touchdown passes and an interception, with a passer rating of 77.0. But with just two days of prep time, Clausen said Cutler and rookie David Fales stayed with him until nearly 9 p.m. those nights at the team’s facilities.

When Clausen signed with the team in June, Cutler immediately took the backup quarterback under his wing.

“We only had two days to prepare for this game, so we stayed pretty much until 8:30 p.m. every single night, trying to watch as much tape as possible, get all the calls down,” Clausen said. “Get everything down to make sure we were prepared for this game. But Jay was great. David Fales was great in helping me to go through all the calls, watching the film. Staying real late, they helped me out a lot.”
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CHICAGO -- No brilliant aerial display or 100-plus passer rating for Jimmy Clausen. Not even a victory for that matter.

Yet when Chicago walked off the field 20-14 losers to the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Soldier Field, the feeling permeating the locker room and postgame press conference room wasn’t one of despair with Clausen falling short in his first start since 2010 because the quarterback kept the Bears in it until the end.

“What do I think I did for myself?” Clausen asked. “I think I just went out there and competed. That’s the biggest thing I think I did, and showed I can play in this league. It’s not about me or anything about that. It’s about winning football games. That’s what we were trying to do today against a division opponent, and we came up short.”

With Jay Cutler, the NFL’s highest-paid offensive player backing him up, Clausen tossed two touchdown passes and absorbed a pair of sacks on the way to producing a passer rating of 77.0. Clausen passed for just 181 yards on the day against a Lions defense that entered the contest ranked No. 1 in the NFL in points allowed (17.0) and second in total yards (300.3-yard average)

[+] EnlargeJimmy Clausen
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesJimmy Clausen avoided the types of game-changing mistakes that have plagued Jay Cutler all season.
So Marc Trestman probably didn't save his job by benching Cutler last week in favor of Clausen, because the new starter didn’t exactly light up the Lions. But it’s important to note the Bears attacked Detroit’s vaunted defense with a scaled-back game plan due to Clausen’s limited repetitions, while taking the field with a pair of rookie backups (Ryan Groy and Michael Ola) at the guard positions along an offensive line that gave up seven sacks just six days prior against New Orleans’ 31st-ranked defense.

Trestman sought “a spark” when naming Clausen the starter, and received as much in Sunday’s loss.

Against the playoff-bound Lions, the Bears led 14-10 to start the fourth quarter.

“I think that Jimmy, as the game went on, continued to get more comfortable,” Trestman said. “We cut down the quantity of plays we had in the game plan. We matched it up against things we’ve seen Detroit do defensively, and tried to give them the things and packages he would need to get it done. We certainly had more than enough today to utilize that. He did a nice job during the week, not only during practice, but after practice with the guys, getting the reps and assignment checks he needed to see everything. I felt good about that going in today.”

The coach also likely feels positive vibes about the way Clausen stayed within the confines of the scheme -- which is what Trestman wanted all along from the original starter -- without taking unnecessary risks and making the same game-changing mistakes that ultimately led to the decision to bench Cutler.

Trestman paused for nearly five seconds last week when asked whether general manager Phil Emery was on board with his decision to bench Cutler. That pause indicated the coach and general manager, who signed Cutler to a seven-year, $126.7 million deal last January, may not have seen eye to eye regarding that decision.

But if Clausen plays mistake-free football within Trestman’s scheme and experiences success to close the season next week at Minnesota, perhaps it proves the coach’s system works just fine, and that Cutler was the problem all along. Again, it’s probably too late for Cutler’s benching to save Trestman’s job. But if Clausen closes on a positive note, it at least gives ownership pause when making decisions about the futures of Trestman, Cutler and even Emery, who has been steadfast in his support of the quarterback.

Down 20-14 with 2:30 left to play, Clausen hit Marquess Wilson for a 7-yard gain on first down. On second down, Clausen scrambled around right end, only to be rocked by Ezekiel Ansah, who was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness after knocking off the quarterback’s helmet.

Clausen popped up quickly, later admitting “my emotions are going 100 miles a minute at that time, I’m just fired up.” But that sequence rubbed off on the rest of the team.

“I respect that,” Bears defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff said.

“Oh yeah, he’s a fiery guy, man,” said center Roberto Garza. “He was in the game trying to make plays all through the game, and he was the reason we were in this game.”

Not the reason the Bears were out of it, like they’d been so many times before with Cutler and his NFL-high 24 turnovers at the helm.

When the Bears fell 34-17 on Thanksgiving at Detroit, Cutler passed for 280 yards and two touchdowns, but he also tossed two interceptions, with the Lions converting one of the turnovers into a Matt Prater field goal.

Clausen threw an interception in the fourth quarter on a desperation shot on fourth-and-10 from the Chicago 45 with just 2:02 left to play.

Trestman declined to name Clausen the starter for the season-finale at Minnesota, but the quarterback whose record as a starter now stands at 1-10, hopes the brass gives him another shot.

It's not like the Bears have anything else to lose.

“I’ve never given up,” Clausen said when asked if he thought he’d never receive another shot to start in the NFL. “You can never give up. The only thing you can ask for is another opportunity. That’s what Coach Trestman gave me today, another opportunity. I just went out there and tried to compete to the best of my ability, make the plays when the plays were there.”

Report Card: Bears-Lions

December, 21, 2014
Dec 21
6:45
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Week 16 Report Card: Lions at Bears

Clausen
C

Passing Offense

Quarterback Jimmy Clausen did OK replacing Jay Cutler, completing 23 of 39 throws for 181 yards, two touchdowns and one interception (77.0 passer rating). Drops hurt the Bears. Alshon Jeffery had a rough afternoon, catching only six of his game-high 15 targets for 72 yards and one touchdown. Clausen targeted tight end Martellus Bennett just three times. Clausen seemed in command of the offense, but the overall results (14 points) were unchanged.

Forte
D+

Rushing Offense

At least Chicago attempted to run, unlike in their first meeting with Detroit when Matt Forte carried the football a season-low five times. But yards proved tough to come by against the NFL's No. 1 rushing defense. Forte ran 19 times for 55 yards (2.9 yards per carry). Clausen scrambled three times for nine yards. The Bears missed the presence of right guard Kyle Long, who skipped the game because of a hip injury.

Vereen
B

Passing Defense

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had a rotten afternoon. The Bears picked off Stafford twice (Brock Vereen and Ryan Mundy), and sacked the rival quarterback four times. All-world receiver Calvin Johnson caught six passes for 103 yards, but Johnson disappointed for stretches during the game. Cornerback Tim Jennings picked up a costly fourth-quarter pass interference penalty that set up the Lions' go-ahead touchdown. That proved to be a turning point.

Thomas
D

Rushing Defense

Detroit tailback Joique Bell made several defenders miss on a 17-yard touchdown run that sealed Chicago's fate. Bell (13-74-1) and Reggie Bush (7-54-1) combined to rush for 128 yards on just 20 attempts. The numbers are particularly galling when you consider Detroit entered the game with the league's 30th-ranked rushing offense.

Bears
B

Special Teams

Detroit embarrassed themselves on special teams; botching a punt and allowing a field goal block. The Bears were actually decent. Punter Pat O'Donnell did struggle with six punts for 242 yards (40.3 average/36.7 net average), but Chicago avoided fatal errors on special teams.

Trestman
C

Coaching

Give Marc Trestman credit for Clausen's preparedness on short notice. Trestman, Mel Tucker and Joe DeCamillis appeared to put together decent plans of attack for Week 16. But it's a result-based business. The Bears still only scored 14 points en route to dropping their 10th game of the season. They simply were not good enough to win.

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CHICAGO -- Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola said his stepping on the leg of the Bears' Ego Ferguson was "not intentional" and that he did not see the defensive lineman on the ground.

Raiola was caught on tape stepping on Ferguson's ankle during the third quarter of Detroit's 20-14 victory.

"It was totally unintentional," Raiola said. "I remember I was stumbling out. I didn't see the end of it. I apologized at the end of the game, told him it was unintentional and we shook hands and that was it."

Raiola also said he explained what happened to Chicago offensive lineman Roberto Garza, one of his friends, and told Garza to tell Ferguson again that it was unintentional.

Raiola said he felt something when he stepped down on what ended up being Ferguson and that his ankle almost rolled on him when he ended up making contact with Ferguson's leg. Lions coach Jim Caldwell said he would need to see the tape of it, but "from what I understand, that was inadvertent. He apologized to the guy. They shook hands."

Ferguson ended up coming back into the game after initially having to leave the game. After the game, Ferguson had a different interpretation of what happened.

"Y'all saw the play," Ferguson said. "I don't have to explain that. You need to stay in between the [whistles]."

He also didn't want to get into what Raiola said to him after the game.

"None of that matters," Ferguson said. "We all saw the play. You can't take back what happened with that play. That's the end of that."


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CHICAGO -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Chicago Bears' 20-14 loss to the Detroit Lions:

Martellus Bennett
Martellus Bennett mentioned he didn't "think the passion is always there" for some players after his club's loss on Dec. 15 to the New Orleans Saints, but after a defeat to the Lions on Sunday, the Bears tight end commended the effort of teammates.

"I felt guys brought it a little bit more today," Bennett said. "Overall, I think everybody's playing hard. Guys are playing hard until the end of the game. That's all you can ask for, your teammates to come out and give everything they've got, and try to do the most they can. I felt like all three phases, that's what guys were doing."

Dry-erase message: With no postseason to play for, the message left on the team's dry-erase board in the locker room said, "Play for the guy next to you."

Strange scene: The lockers of Bennett, Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen are all in a row, and in that order. Interestingly, a large crowd on one side gathered near Bennett's locker, while Clausen conducted a postgame interview with WBBM. In the middle, Cutler's locker sat empty, and there was no sign of the benched quarterback in the locker room after the game.

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