Six-time Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz said after the loss to the Ravens in Week 15 that the Bears needed to make changes starting at the top.
Those comments were misconstrued by some who suggested the Bears would be better off next year without the 12-year veteran. There was also a theory that he wanted to get released by the Bears so he could go somewhere else and get a big signing bonus.
"That's one thing I hope people realize," Kreutz said. "I've been playing for 12 years, so I'm pretty well off. I don't need much more money. I'm here to win games. So when I say stuff, I'm saying it to win games. I'm not saying stuff to get myself thrown out. If I wanted to get thrown out, I would have gotten thrown out years ago.
"Obviously I want to be a Bear, and that's what I've always wanted to be. There's no ulterior motive when I say something. I just want to help us win games, period. When you say something, you open yourself up for criticism, and that's what I did."
When Kreutz re-signed with the Bears in 2002, he took less money to stay with them than he could have gotten from the Dolphins.
Kreutz was singled out for his leadership last week in keeping his teammates focused on the Vikings. Kreutz, as usual, downplayed his leadership role, but his attitude seemed to rub off on the Bears.
"First of all, you play to compete against the guy you're playing against, and then you want to win the game," he said. "That's what we line up for every week, and I promise you, when you line up, you're not thinking about being out of the playoffs or what are we even playing for. You're thinking about, I'm not going to let this guy kick my [butt]. That's the way you play the game."
NOTES AND QUOTES
"There's a reason why we brought him here," coach Lovie Smith said. "He's been a good player in the league. Defensive ends are judged a lot based on what they can do rushing the passer and also playing the run. We need to see him play well."
No one has seen that yet. Adams has just five tackles in the nine games in which he's seen limited activity, and he doesn't have a sack or a quarterback hit. ...
Defensive end Mark Anderson, who is in the final year of his contract, needs to make an impression if he wants to remain a Bear. He took a step in that direction Monday night. Anderson started at the left end spot vacated by Adewale Ogunleye, who was placed on injured reserve Sunday with a fractured fibula, and had a sack, two tackles and a QB hit. ...
Just as in every losing season, extensive changes are expected by the time the Bears go to training camp next year.
But players know that even if they aren't back with the same team, someone will be watching.
"As far as next year, I have no idea what's going to happen with anything," said offensive tackle Kevin Shaffer, who started his fourth straight game Monday night. "That's just all speculation. But every time there's a film, it doesn't say on the film what our record was or if somebody was hurt or that we've got two games left.
"You've got to show your best product every game. People analyze you and judge you and grade you based on that, so you can't give up at the end of the game or give up at the end of the year. You've just got to keep battling, do the best you can every game, and that's what I try to do." ...
The Bears are 10-0 at home since the start of the 2005 season when the game-time temperature is 32 or lower.
Monday night's game-time temperature was 26.
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