Chicago Bears head coach John Fox announced on Monday that quarterback Jay Cutler has been cleared to return to practice and will be able to play in Week 8.
Cutler had been out since Week 2 with a thumb injury, and there was a growing sense that he was not going to get his starting job back from Brian Hoyer. However, Hoyer suffered a broken left forearm in Thursday night’s loss to the Green Bay Packers and is expected to be out at least six weeks.
The Bears have just one win on the season with a game upcoming against the NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings.
Cutler suffered ligament damage and bruising in the thumb on his throwing hand, and it’s possible he will be playing at less than 100 percent health. If not for Hoyer getting hurt, the Bears probably would have had Cutler take his time recovering.
With the Bears clearly not heading for the playoffs and the report we heard about how Cutler sees his future with the team, it will be interesting to see how much effort the veteran puts forth.
- Jay Cutler
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer tried to do what he could to ensure his players were properly focused ahead of the team’s bye week, which preceded Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He even tried to use some stuffed animals as a visual to help share his message, but it did not work.
According to the Star Tribune’s Matt Vensel, prior to letting his team go for the bye week, Zimmer set up a bunch of stuffed animals around the locker room. The stuffed toys had their throats slashed, they were splattered with red paint, and some of the stuffing was coming out. What was the purpose of the message? To convey that “fat cats get slaughtered.”
It was quite a graphic way of telling his team not to get too complacent during their week off just because they were 5-0.
Unfortunately, Zimmer’s message did not hit home, as the Vikings looked terrible in a 21-10 loss to the Eagles. Zimmer called the loss “embarrassing” and said his banged up offensive line looked “soft” in the game.
Whether the loss was due to the team getting complacent during the bye week or not, they sure did not look good and will have to improve next Monday against the Bears in Week 8.
- Mike Zimmer
After just one game as the New York Jets starting quarterback, Geno Smith’s season is reportedly done.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Smith suffered a torn ACL Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
Sources: Based on initial MRI, belief is that #Jets QB Geno Smith tore his ACL. Incredible. Players in the locker room are learning about it
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 24, 2016
If that does turn out to be the case, there is no way Smith will be able to return in 2016.
This must come as a shock to the Jets, who reportedly felt optimistic about Smith’s status as recently as Monday morning. It means Ryan Fitzpatrick will once again take over the starting job after getting benched, and this time, there’s no viable alternative for New York if he continues to struggle.
- Geno Smith
Stephen Gostkowski has long been one of the game’s most reliable kickers, but after missing an extra point on Sunday for the second straight week, his confidence is shaken a bit.
With the New England kicker in something of a slump, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady offered his support on Monday.
“I just think you show support and encouragement,” Brady told Boston’s WEEI, via Mike Reiss of ESPN. “He’s a great kicker. He’ll find his rhythm, I don’t think anyone is really worried about that. He’s one of the best kickers who ever played the game. I have 100 percent confidence he’ll find his rhythm.”
That’s about all you can say. Gostkowski has been reliable for a very long time, and the team isn’t going to throw him under the bus over a few missed kicks, no matter how simple they were. You have to wonder, however, if this moment from the AFC Championship still weighs on his mind.
Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom are finally getting close to officially ending their marriage.
According to a report from TMZ, Kardashian and Odom have reached a settlement and signed off on their divorce. Both filed legal documents on Friday after reaching a property settlement and are waiting for a judge to approve them.
Kardashian first filed for divorce in 2013, but there have been various events that resulted in the process not being finalized. Khloe vowed to stay with Odom last year to help him get back on his feet when he nearly died of a drug overdose, and she even rented a home for him near hers for some time. Kardashian filed once again this year, supposedly telling Odom that she wants to move on and start a family with someone else.
The timing of the filing is interesting, as a gossip publication recently reported that Kardashian is now engaged to the NBA player she has been dating for a few months. Perhaps that is why things are finally moving along with her divorce from Odom.
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The San Francisco 49ers are entering their Week 8 bye with no good options at quarterback, so they will probably stick with Colin Kaepernick. However, head coach Chip Kelly isn’t ready to commit to a starter for Week 9 just yet.
On Monday, Kelly told KNBR that he “would think” Kaepernick will remain San Francisco’s starter coming out of the bye.
Chip Kelly tells KNBR "I would think Kaepernick would stay at quarterback" after this week's #49ers bye
— Cam Inman (@CamInman) October 24, 2016
That isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, but you can understand why. In his two starts since taking over for Blaine Gabbert, Kaepernick has completed a measly 46 percent of his passes and thrown two touchdowns. He only has one interception, but his QB rating in those two starts is 66.2. The Niners were blown out in both games.
The 49ers are not going to be good no matter who they start at quarterback. Even the players seem to realize that, as evidenced by the report we heard about who they want under center. Kaepernick and Gabbert are equally bad.
Hue Jackson is learning just how excruciating coaching the Cleveland Browns can be.
Jackson admitted Sunday that he wasn’t used to the losing, and the normally stoic coach even called a late timeout to excoriate his defense during the fourth quarter of the team’s 31-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I called them out,” Jackson said, via Pat McManamon of ESPN. “I was disappointed because I don’t want anybody running the ball like that on us.”
Nevertheless, Jackson vowed to find a way to turn things around.
“I’m not used to this. I don’t like losing,” Jackson said. “I’ve never lost like this, but I’m going to find a way, I promise you that. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but I’m going to find a way.”
The Browns weren’t that good to begin with. Add a revolving door of injured quarterbacks – it happened again on Sunday – and it’s easy to understand why they’re 0-7. There’s probably not a whole lot Jackson can do about that, at least this season.
- Hue Jackson
Donovan Jeter, a four-star defensive end recruit from Beaver Falls High School (Pa.), recently went back on his verbal commitment to Notre Dame because he would rather go to Michigan, and he has a very simple reason for the decision.
Jim Harbaugh is more chill than Brian Kelly.
In an interview with Mike White of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jeter explained why he reopened his recruiting last week and ultimately settled on the Wolverines.
“(Harbaugh) doesn’t act like he’s important,” Jeter said. “He’s real down to earth and humble. He’s easy to talk to. Talking to Brian Kelly wasn’t fun. It wasn’t cool. You have to make an appointment just to go to his office. Coach Harbaugh has an open-door policy. Every one of Michigan’s coaches has an open-door policy.”
Jeter visited Ann Arbor on Saturday with some other Michigan recruits and current players, and it sounds like Harbaugh made a huge impression.
“He picked us up in a van to take us back to the hotel,” Jeter said. “What other head coach would come and pick up recruits at midnight in a van?”
Kelly has a reputation for being hard on his players, and he is often seen berating them on the sidelines during nationally-televised games. While Harbaugh isn’t exactly a pushover, he knows how to connect with recruits — just ask the guy who enjoyed a unique slumber party with the coach.
Being “cool” during recruiting visits doesn’t make you a good coach, but it obviously helps land good players. And when your team is 6-0 and destroying the competition, beating out a 2-5 team like Notre Dame isn’t all that hard.
H/T The Big Lead
Last season’s Houston Rockets did not work for a whole lot of reasons, and there’s even more evidence of that now.
According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, with the support of owner Leslie Alexander, pressured interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff into cutting Dwight Howard’s minutes to give Clint Capela more playing time. The stated priority was to help develop Capela, but Bickerstaff resisted the overtures.
League sources even went as far as to say that James Harden was a driving force in putting the idea in management’s mind, but team sources denied that.
Howard essentially confirmed that something similar to this was happening. By the end of the season, it was pretty apparent that Houston simply didn’t want Howard in the fold anymore. It was a grand experiment that did not work.
Geno Smith was unable to make it through a full half in his 2016 debut as the starting quarterback for the New York Jets, as he suffered a knee injury on Sunday and was forced to miss the remainder of the game. Where does that leave the team going forward?
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that the Jets do not believe Smith’s knee injury is serious and only held him out as a precaution.
#Jets believe QB Geno Smith’s knee is “fine,” source said. MRI is considered a precaution, though an important one. So was keeping him out.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 24, 2016
Smith was replaced by the freshly-benched Ryan Fitzpatrick, who turned in one of his best performances of the season. Fitzpatrick completed 9 of 14 passes for 120 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He led the Jets to a 24-16 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
If Smith is healthy enough to play against the Cleveland Browns next week, the Jets officially have a mess on their hands. A report prior to Sunday’s game indicated Smith was not going to be on a short leash, but can the team just ignore the way Fitzpatrick played? The 33-year-old was borderline defiant with some comments he made after the game, which could be perceived as a positive or negative. We don’t envy the position Todd Bowles has found himself in.