15 on 6: Eliminating turnovers a high priority

15 on 6: Eliminating turnovers a high priority
September 17, 2010, 2:16 pm
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Friday, Sept. 17, 2010
9:09 AM

By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

No Bears fan is going to enjoy a return home from Dallas if the Bears turn over the football four more times against the Cowboys. No statistic is more relevant to wins and losses than turnover ratio.

"It's a turnover game, and the turnover ratio is always big on who wins the game," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. It certainly will not be a victorious return flight and if it is, go out and buy one ticket for Powerball, Mega Millions and stop in on your grandmother's weekly Bingo match at the local VFW because it will be a special year for the Bears if it happens.

Ball security

It is a tough habit to break, but two hands on the ball is the mantra in the pocket. Jay Cutler had one of these costly turnovers when shuffling up in the pocket versus the Lions. A lot of QBs drop back with two hands on the ball, but they separate from the ball with their left hand (right arm thrower) once they hit the top of their drop. The separation gets worse when they move, shuffle or invariably escape the pocket to make a play. The irony is what is the better play: 1. holding onto the football and take the loss, or 2. slide with bad mechanics and cough it up to your opponent. Pretty easy decision from any head coach of what he would prefer. Drill work and constant emphasis during film study of practice or game with coach and player are key to breaking this habit. It can be done, as I myself, rid myself of a costly bad habit.

Can Cutler hold up?

I had an interesting conversation yesterday on my Sirius NFL Radio show with former NFL general manager Pat Kirwin. He had crunched the numbers. Cutler was sacked 10 times in the preseason or once every 4.7 attempts. He was sacked four times in the opener and on average, getting hit on one of every six throws. If you calculate pass attempts in a Mike Martz system for the year, it will come in at more than 500 attempts. At that pace, Cutler could go down close to 80 times. Protection has to be paramount from here on out for the Bears to even sniff postseason play. Without Jay, the season is lost. Martz may have to compromise down-the-field throws to run-after-catch throws until the offensive line can offer premium protection.

Jim Miller, an 11-year former NFL quarterback, is a Comcast SportsNet Bears analyst who can be seen each week on U.S. Cellular Bears Postgame Live. Miller, who spent five seasons with the Bears, analyzes current Chicago QB Jay Cutler in his "15 on 6" blog on CSNChicago.com and can be followed on Twitter @15miller.