15 on 6: Cutler, Bates could form lethal duo

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15 on 6: Cutler, Bates could form lethal duo

I have mentioned new Bears quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates in previous blogs as a coach of interest for the Bears. Bates was an up-and-comer under Jon Gruden for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002 as an offensive quality-control coach. I liked him immediately.

Jay Cutler is correct in his assessment of Bates, when he said hes a grinder who loves football and is fiercely competitive. Do not let Jeremys age fool you. The tail will not wag the dog in Chicago. Bates is opinionated, knows what he wants offensively, and how he wants it executed. He is pure football.

If Im a Bears fan, I wouldnt get caught up in titles too much concerning why Bates wasnt hired as passing-game coordinator. That is all it is, a title. Bates and Cutler already have established lines of communication that will be rekindled from past success. Their history together will bode well. Bates knows Jays strengths and weaknesses and how to coach Jay to get the most out of him.

It is not like these two have to start from square one where youre trying to be open in a new relationship like Cutler was with Martz. They know where each other stands offensively and will look to hit the ground running by working to improve, rather than gloat on the past. Bates is demanding, gruff and doesnt mince words. There will be no gray areas that go uncoached.

Mike Tice and Bates do not have a background together other than being in the coaching fraternity. Bates will prove to be a valuable asset to Tice, because he is a coach who personally knows how to utilize Cutlers skills and will look to improve them. He will be a tremendous, valuable resource for Tice to tap and coincide with what he already knows about Jay.

Again, Bates and Cutler have history together. They can discuss plays, how they attacked defenses together, and much of that feedback will be implemented in current gameplans for the Bears passing attack. Cutler is far enough along to offer his opinion of what he likes and dislikes.

In terms of being one-and-done in Seattle, it relates more to Matt Hasselback than any failures by Bates. Hasellback had been in the west-coast Offense his entire career under Mike Holmgren. There were certain principles in the offense, I believe, Matt felt very strongly about over years of experience executing the system. Bates arrived in Seattle with his own set of beliefs in the system under Gruden and Mike Shanahans tutelage as well.

Yes, it is the same offense but areas of emphasis and how it is executed normally morph under whoever is calling the plays. Hence, the statement philosophical differences when Bates was relieved of his offensive play-calling duties, despite making the playoffs while in Seattle.

Lets all hope this doesnt end with Cutler screaming expletives captured on tape concerning the Bears new team effort offensively, rather than a one man greatest show on turf philosophy.

This is a good move for the Bears who could reap valuable rewards. Now, the Bears have to acquire the most important part for any so called passing game: playmakers who can catch!

Kyle Fuller heads to injured reserve as Bears make other roster moves

Kyle Fuller heads to injured reserve as Bears make other roster moves

The upheaval that has afflicted the 2016 Bears roster ratcheted up a notch late Tuesday when the Bears placed cornerback Kyle Fuller on injured reserve due to a knee injury and shuffled the depth chart elsewhere.

The Bears waived tight end Greg Scruggs, who was making the switch to offense from the defensive line, and linebacker Jonathan Anderson, while moving linebacker John Timu from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. To fortify the defensive line, where nose tackle Eddie Goldman is down indefinitely with an ankle injury, the Bears signed CJ Wilson, a 2010 draft pick of the Green Bay Packers who has played for the Packers, Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions, starting 19 of 78 career games played.

Fuller, the 14th-overall pick of the 2014 draft and once identified as a building block of the Bears defense, underwent knee surgery Aug. 15 while the team went to New England for practices and a preseason game with the Patriots. He had been making significant strides in recovery as far as straight-ahead running but was still hampered with change-of-direction.

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Coach John Fox on Monday said simply that Fuller “has a sore knee. It has some medical things that kind of restrict you. When we get that healed up, he’ll go.”

The IR designation does not necessarily end Fuller’s season. Beginning in 2013, under an agreement between the NFL and Players Association, one player per team may be placed on injured reserve and later be brought back to the active roster. That player must sit out six weeks and cannot be activated for an additional two weeks.

With inside linebacker Danny Trevathan out following surgery on his thumb, Anderson had been expected to see additional playing time, possibly with the No. 1 unit. But rookie Nick Kwiatkoski started Sunday at Dallas in the base 3-4 and Christian Jones cycled in with sub packages.

Three starting points for the Bears to salvage their 2016 season

Three starting points for the Bears to salvage their 2016 season

As the noted philosopher once intoned, the past is for cowards and losers. Applied to the 2016 Bears, the latter already applies, though not wanting to look at the recent past shouldn’t be taken as evidence of cowardice, just not wanting to revisit pain.

Looking to the future is the obvious only option for an 0-3 football team.

“You’ve just got to go into every week like it’s a new week,” said linebacker Jerrell Freeman, one of the few encouraging parts of an injury-speckled defense, whose 34 tackles are approaching twice those of No. 2 Jacoby Glenn (19), with four tackles for loss vs. no one else with more than two.

“Every week is a new season regardless of whether you’re winning or losing. You can’t look back, you always have to look forward. Because if not, you won’t give the next team the respect they deserve and have another bad result.”

But the fan base can be excused for expecting a next bad result simply because the Bears have given zero indications that the future will be any better than the immediate past.

That is the signal concern: Who turns this around or, for that matter, even slows the rate of descent?

No Bears team has made the playoffs in a season that began with three straight losses. The 1932 team was winless in its first three, but those at least were scoreless ties. So postseason isn’t a relevant concept anymore except possibly as some sort of punchline.

But one vintage NFL axiom is that things from a game are seldom as bad upon later review than you thought they were at the time (they’re also never as good, either, but good hasn’t shown up yet). And turnarounds do happen.

But those do have to start somewhere. Any Bears season course correction for 2016 has three possible starting points:

A defensive 'village'

The Bears do not have elite talent on defense, meaning that the solution can come only from a marshaling of forces that makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

John Fox teams are built on defense, and consensus had the Bears as potentially a top-10 defense before the successive miseries vs. Houston, Philadelphia and Dallas. The Bears have zero defensive star power at this point, which is a problem, by way of understatement.

Fox’s 2011 Denver team started 1-4, then reversed itself and made the playoffs at 8-8 with Tim Tebow as quarterback. (It also had Marion Barber stepping out of bounds and later fumbling away the Bears game, but never mind that for now.) But that team had Elvis Dumervil and a rookie Von Miller combining for 21 sacks. The Bears have a total of four sacks, and players representing 1.5 of those (Eddie Goldman, Danny Trevathan) are out indefinitely with injuries.

But linebacker Willie Young cut to the chase: “We have to control the running game before we can have fun in the backfield,” he said after the debacle in Dallas with the Cowboys rushing for 200 yards. “I don’t know what was going on. All I could do is ask the guys to give me all you got. One play at a time, just give me all you’ve got.”

That would be a place to start.

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Remember the 'Run and Shoop' offense?

John Shoop might have been the object of ridicule as Bears offensive coordinator. But when he took over after the defection of Gary Crowton to coach BYU, the Bears won two of their last three by running to the point of tackle James “Big Cat” Williams, nicknaming the offense the “Run and Shoop” offense. The linemen loved it initially because Shoop simply loaded up and ran the football and, most important, stayed with the plan.

The point is not to become plodding, which Shoop’s offense ultimately became. But the Bears abandoned the run at Dallas when they trailed 24-3 at halftime, even though they had the ball to start the third quarter and with one defensive stop after a touchdown could have been working to get within one score.

“It could have flipped quickly,” guard Kyle Long said. “One drive, it turns into a seven-point game, and that’s the NFL.”

The need for the Bears to run the football isn’t really worth spending time on. Obvious. The offensive line was built for running the football. But for various reasons coordinator Dowell Loggains has not had success with what was supposed to be the foundation of the offense. The Bears cannot win by being a pass-based team, regardless of whether Jay Cutler or Brian Hoyer or Matt Barkley is doing the throwing.

The Bears will not be blowing out many, if any, teams. Their best option is to wear opponents down in first halves, live with Jordan Howard/Joique Bell/whomever netting 50 to 60 yards in a first half, then turning the two- to three-yard runs of the first half into four- to six-yarders in the second.

Shoop would like that.

Get one win

Playoff chances mean nothing. How good or bad the Bears are means nothing. All that matters is winning, not games, but one game. The next game. As Fox and other players have said, the Bears have not put together one complete game yet. That is not going to happen automatically, but one play, one quarter, one half at a time.

And they know it. “You want to win games,” Freeman said. “There’s no panic. There’s a sense of urgency, that’s for sure. We’ve got to put out this fire and put it out quick, like yesterday or the day before.”