Smith, like Cutler, also received premature criticism in conference championship

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Jay Cutler wasn’t the only Bear to receive criticism for Sunday’s NFC Conference Championship game. Head coach Lovie Smith, always the punching bag for Bears fans and local media, was receiving national criticism for his timing of pulling Todd Collins out of the game and replacing him with Caleb Hanie.

This, from, sums up the criticism Smith was receiving nationwide:

“And yet even when the Bears made the right call of pulling Collins and inserting Hanie, they did it at an incredibly stupid time: With less than a minute remaining in the third quarter. It’s important to remember that the NFL’s third quarterback rule means that once Hanie got into the game in the third quarter, the Bears couldn’t put Collins (or Cutler) back in. If Hanie had gotten hurt, the Bears would have been stuck without a quarterback for the rest of the game.”

Well, here’s the cold hard fact: if Hanie got hurt, he would have been the third Bears quarterback to get hurt that game because, as it turns out, Collins was pulled from the game not just because he was bad but because he suffered a significant shoulder injury. Collins will undergo an MRI on Tuesday to reveal the extent of that injury.

So, regardless of when Hanie had been inserted into the game, if he had gotten hurt, the Bears would have been without a quarterback.

Seems to me that the media, once again, spoke too soon without getting all the facts. Seems to me Smith, like Cutler, deserves an apology from overzealous critics.

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