By Scott Gleeson and Tony Andracki
From the masters of “that’s what she said” jokes, these two Illinois State alums bring a weekly entry to the table discussing the biggest topics in the sports world. (For the record, Scott and Tony hate “that’s what he said” jokes. Don’t ever use them. Stick to “she.” More fun that way.)
Jay Cutler’s fingers hurt
What happened: With the Bears riding the momentum of a five-game winning streak, quarterback Jay Cutler reportedly suffered a broken thumb on his passing hand, which may require surgery and could keep him out for the remainder of the regular season. This paves way for unproven backup Caleb Hanie, who delivered a worthy (13-for-20, 153 yards) performance in the NFC championship game vs. the Pack last year. At 7-3, can the Bears hold on to make the playoffs with Hanie piloting?
SG: This injury flat out sucks. Right when the mall-security-level-protection that Chicago calls an offensive line put together a strand of strong games (Cutler didn’t get sacked two of the last three games), the football gods took a big-ass dump on the Bears.
No need to call Cutler soft with this injury a la NFC championship style, even though Matthew Stafford is playing with a hurt finger and Ben Roethlisberger seems to always be playing with damaged fingers. This seems more serious, though. It’s certainly unfortunate because Cutler was having a damn good season. As much as his injury hurts and it’s impossible not to discredit the difficulty of an end-of-the-season QB change, the Bears have found a way to win in the past with their defense and special teams and that can likely happen down the stretch of this season.
Needless to say, Cutler’s injury was unexpected. And I feel like Caleb Hanie is the Carlton to Cutler’s Will Smith. Or the Tony to Cutler’s Scott. As long as he’s not the Curtis Painter to Cutler’s Peyton Manning, though, I think Bears fans can chillax a bit. I’m sort of envisioning Hanie’s last six-game stretch being identical to the movie The Replacements starring Keanu Reeves. Hanie just needs a cheerleader almost as good looking as Kristin Cavallari and then we’re in business. Regardless, Mike Martz hasn’t ever seemed fully confident in Hanie as the No. 2 but the problem is that not many pick-me-up veteran quarterbacks can master Martz’s complex offense in the time needed for Chicago to excel. Marc Bulger, who played in Martz’s system in St. Louis, would be a solid option but right now, it’s the Caleb Hanie Show.
The Bears will most likely need to split their last six games and maybe even win four of them to secure a playoff slot. Assuming the Cowboys win the NFC East (they have a cakewalk home stretch), the Giants (6-4), Falcons (6-4) and Lions (7-3) will all be fighting with the Bears for those two wildcard spots. With games against the Raiders, Chiefs, Broncos, Seahawks, Packers and Vikings, Hanie should be able to play well enough for the Bears to ride Matt Forte and a promising defense to the playoffs.
TA: You brought up an interesting point with how people aren’t freaking out about this thumb injury like they did with his knee. Why is that? It seems weird to have Cutler hurt without FOX making up headlines on TV. But then again, maybe they will on Sunday. I was initially very hurt when Cutler left the NFC Championship game, but as I found out more info, my faith in him was restored. Now, everybody has forgotten about it.
But nobody has forgotten about how Hanie played in that game, and that is why I’m excited. He compiled ratings of 102.1 and 84 in limited 2010 regular season action before entering in the third quarter of the NFC Championship game and nearly bringing the Bears all the way back. He injects life into this offense and I’d be damn happy to see him play. I’m excited, actually. I just hope noodle-armed neck-beard Kyle Orton doesn’t come in and steal Hanie’s playing time. Martz is an idiot, so I don’t care if he thinks Hanie isn’t worth a crap. Martz wasn’t even doing well as the offensive coordinator. It wasn’t until Mike Tice started providing input that the Bears really started to get hot.
One more quick thing, “chillax”? Really, Scott? You should put a dollar in the Douchebag Jar for that one.
The 49ers are 9-1?
What happened: After losing to the Cowboys in overtime in Week 2, the 49ers have won eight straight and have a stranglehold on the moribund AFC West. First-year coach Jim Harbaugh has put San Francisco in position to secure a playoff bid as early as Thursday with a win over his brother John’s Baltimore Ravens and a loss by Seattle, providing one of the feel-good, not-talked-about-enough stories this NFL season.
TA: It’s a battle of the brothers Thanksgiving night!! Scott, that’d be like me and you facing off if we were two head coaches of teams. Who do ya think would win that one? I mean, let’s be honest, as goofy as I am, I’m a hell of a lot better coach than you are. Sure, you can coach little kids running around throwing up basketballs and jogging in circles, but I coach my peers, which is the hardest thing to do. Plus, it’s harder to coach baseball than basketball, I think we’ll all agree. I gotta set lineups and make pitching changes. All your lazy ass has to do is call a timeout every now and then and scribble crap on a white board with an Expo marker like you’re Phil Jackson designing a play.
But, you do have the crusty beard going for you and you do enjoy wearing ties, so you’d look the part better than I would. And you’re real good at looking angry and stressed and at yelling, so you win there, too. But would that make you a better coach? Phil Jackson was good because he was The Zen Master. I think it’s safe to say I’m a whole hell of a lot closer to a Zen Master than you and your crusty beard.
Wait, was I supposed to talk about football here?
SG: The last time the 49ers won this many games in a row was 1997. That squad went on to win 11 consecutive games and finish 13-3. They also had Steve Young…and Jerry Rice. This team has Alex Smith. Let me say it again. Alex Smith. He’s the guy San Francisco chose as the No. 1 pick instead of some dude named Aaron Rodgers in 2005. (Sampsonite, way off). Until the last few weeks, it seemed like a solid defense and Frank Gore’s legs were the reasons behind an improbable start. But when Gore left with an injury against the Giants, Smith held it down late in the fourth quarter. He finished 9-for-11 with 109 yards. He followed that up with a 267-yard, two TD performance in a win against the Cardinals. His numbers aren’t Rodgers-like, but he’s getting the job done.
Granted, Gore put together a strand of 100-yard rushing games and often dominated, but it’s time to start crediting Smith for San Francisco’s great start. While Eli Manning has been receiving praise for his fourth quarter heroics, Smith has four come-from-behind fourth quarters of his own, including one in a statement win over the Giants, a win that showed the 49ers aren’t just a decent team in a bad division. After the Niners beat the Lions and Harbaugh and Detroit coach Jim Schwartz had a WWE-like handshake duel, it still seemed hard to take San Francisco seriously. But now we’re in Week 11 and we’re talking history in the making. The 49ers, without a playoff appearance or winning record since 2002, are on pace to join an elite club of teams that have clinched the division after 11 games. The 1985 Bears hold the record. Typing “1985 Bears” after 2011 49ers is a lot to wrap my head around. When the hell did San Francisco become good? Or even decent?
The Seahawks and Cardinals are way behind the Niners. It’d take a collapse of epic proportions for the 49ers to miss the playoffs. Even Tony couldn’t fudge this up by offering Irish Car Bombs at the wrong time. If Trent Dilfer can help the Ravens make the Super Bowl, there’s no reason Smith can’t do the same. The 49ers lead the NFL in rush defense, not allowing a rushing TD in 14 games. They also have X-Factors that help them win games a la David Akers (dude is tied for second in league in scoring and he’s a kicker). Plus, they play at Candlestick Park. The only cooler stadium name would be TonyandScottGetHoneys Park.
College football shakeup
What happened: With the biggest scandal in the history of college sports in the rear view mirror (somewhat), major college football saw its BCS standings shaken up big time. A tumultuous weekend featured Oklahoma State, Oregon and Oklahoma all suffering upset losses to drop out of the top five and paved way for the SEC West to hold the nation’s top three teams: No. 1 LSU (11-0), No. 2 Alabama (10-1) and No. 3 Arkansas (10-1). What teams will be in the BCS title game? Also, who the hell is winning the Heisman?
SG: First of all I need to start off by venting about some bullshit in the FCS football world where the Illinois State Redbirds were left out of a 20-team bracket. WTF? Eastern Kentucky and James Madison get in and the ‘Birds get snubbed. The Missouri Valley Football Conference was easily the second toughest FCS conference and for a team that just barely lost to Northern Iowa and considering MVFC foes Indiana State and Youngstown State lost, why wouldn’t ISU (7-4) get in? Eastern Kentucky gave the Ohio Valley (conceivably the eighth ranked conference) two bids—just as many as the MVFC. This…after it seemed as if the Valley might notch a record five teams. Wow.
Anyway, now that I got that out of my system, back to important college football. How the hell did Oklahoma State loose to Iowa State? That’s like me losing to Tony in a Twilight trivia game. Oregon losing to Matt Barkley and USC was also stunning after the Ducks’ dominance over Andrew Luck-led Stanford. But what’s perhaps the most peculiar of all is that the SEC has the top three teams—providing a ton of possible BSC title game scenarios. LSU and Arkansas meet Friday and Alabama and Auburn renew their Iron Bowl series Saturday. If Arkansas and Alabama win, forcing a three-way tie for first in the West, the division’s representative in the SEC championship game Dec. 3 would be determined by the head-to-head result between the top two SEC teams in the BCS standings after next week’s games.
Crazy stuff. This is as confusing as the time when Tony asked this dude for an ATM. (The guy didn’t think he was asking for money). If Alabama and LSU are the top two, LSU goes to the SEC title game. If it’s Arkansas and LSU, then Arkansas would advance. If it’s Alabama and Arkansas, then Alabama goes. Do we really want another LSU-Alabama game? I don’t. I’d prefer an under-the-radar team such as Virginia Tech.
As for the Heisman, it’s hard to argue with what running back Trent Richardson is doing with his groundwork for Alabama. But as always, the quarterbacks are the talking topic. Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley are the top two QB draft prospects, but are they worthy of being Heisman winners? Underrated QB Case Keenum (Houston) is having a Kellen Moore (Boise State)-like year. Oh and Moore is having ANOTHER good season, too.
TA: First of all, Case Keenum is having a Colt Brennan-like year. Not a Kellen Moore year. Get your underrated college quarterbacks right, idiot. Secondly, how the hell am I supposed to know ATM is code for some…inappropriate stuff? Let me tell you, that was quite the awkward situation.
Also, really, a Twilight Trivia game? I think it’d be more interesting if I actually played the game to start out with, let alone me losing to you. And nobody cares about ISU football, including ISU students. Wake me up when basketball season really gets started (let the kid from Barbados play!).
I can’t believe Oregon lost to USC. I was hoping for a comeback there in the second half, but they fell just short, kinda like Scott goin’ after a hot blonde. Never can quite get there. I’m really upset Oklahoma State lost. Though now, they may be able to play Stanford in a bowl game and I can just watch Justin Blackmon and Andrew Luck, the two top NFL offensive products in my opinion. Trent Richardson is fantastic and fun as hell to watch, but I can’t help but get a bit of a Reggie Bush-vibe from him, like maybe TR won’t be so great in the NFL. Either way, I think I’d go with Richardson for the Heisman, too.
And if the National Championship game is LSU-’Bama, I ain’t watchin. I’d avoid it like the plague, or like I avoid Scott’s mom’s tuna casserole dish. Tuna…gross.