Monday, Oct. 11, 2010
By Jim Miller
O-Line gets off the schneid!
It was nice to see the grunts up front respond after suffering through tremendous scrutiny the last four weeks. Rushing for 218 total yards is no small feat in the NFL versus any opponent. All five offensive linemen responded with no one performing so egregiously that they would be benched this week against Seattle at home. Offensive tackle Chris Williams may have to wait another week to return to the lineup because all five have earned another opportunity to start and are eager to follow up their Carolina performance. A shake-up at the quarterback position will be the one coaches have to address.
The good, the bad and then there's Collins
The team played exceptionally in response to Jay Cutler's absence. Informed of Carolina's issues, everyone raised their level of play a notch to log another victory. The defense offered up another masterpiece creating turnovers and physically beating up QB Jimmy Clausen who eventually had to be replaced. Special teams were outstanding providing great field position and Robbie booted a 53-yard field goal to put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter. There inlies the only problem: the game should have been blown wide open in the second quarter if the Bears received any heady play at all from veteran QB Todd Collins.
Know your role, know your situation in the game
I always love listening to the voice of the Bears, Jeff Joniak, and former Chicago Bears offensive lineman, Tom Thayer, on my drive into the city to cover the game. They do a great job and Jeff offered some good questions when he interviewed Collins earlier in the week. Todd played exactly how he sounded in his responses on air -- nervous! Todd has been in the league far too long to not understand the situations he was presented in Carolina. When you are ill-prepared in situational play explains the panic witnessed on the field by Collins.
Bears are up 17-3 in the second quarter and the offense gets another opportunity to score after the unbelievable interception by defensive end Julius Peppers. It is third-and-one at the 1-yard line and Todd elects to panic by forcing a throw to Devin Hester. If Carolina defensive tackle Ed Johnson did not intercept it, a Panthers linebacker and defensive back were waiting, almost lining up, for the swipe. The situation is just throw the ball away and take the field goal. It puts the game at three scores and would have put more pressure on Carolina to go away from their power run game much earlier. This relates to a blog last year about not assuming what a player knows from previous stops in the NFL. Todd has been in the NFL a long time, but really has not played a lot. Martz has to preface the play in the headset to Todd with something like this: "Be smart with the ball, throw it away if it's not there, we will take the field goal and go up three scores." Just a subtle reminder is all Todd should need, but he panicked not knowing the situation, and then threw the ball late when the timing was already off, which is another no-no, especially in the red zone. How about the deep interception over the middle versus a straight Tampa 2 defense. The middle linebacker's assignment is to carry any middle-read receiver, essentially it becomes a cover 3. If the linebacker's too deep, I guarantee a receiver is open replacing him underneath. Todd predetermined his throw not prepared to react from his post-snap read. That is bad football and poor QB play! I could cover the other two interceptions, but let's move on, like the Bears, with Jay or Caleb.
It was the right coaching decision to start Collins and it was also the right coaching decision to insert Caleb Hanie. I have been in Caleb's situation before. If you watch the replay of the game, Caleb is listening to every play call to get a feel for the game. You try to put yourself on the field and mentally play the game. He's looking at the sideline photos with Jay and Todd to reaffirm his own mental decisions and is seeing and gaining confidence. He was dying to play when called upon and knew he could make a difference. He had a nice third-and-six conversion in the fourth quarter showing his poise and confidence through his preparation. He knew his situation, the team's situation and led two drives of four that ended in field goals to finish the game. If Jay is not cleared to play this week, Caleb would be the call to start at QB. Caleb is intoxicated from stepping on the field and making a difference helping his team win. Welcome to the NFL!
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.