15 on 6: Cutler, Bears almost perfect

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15 on 6: Cutler, Bears almost perfect

Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010
8:12 PM

By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

I thought Jay Cutler and the Bears were almost perfect in their win over the Vikings Sunday.

Holding Adrian Peterson to only 51 yds on 17 attempts with no touchdowns is quite an accomplishment considering he had averaged 122 yards a game the last six meetings with 11 touchdowns. If the defense continues its trend of forcing turnovers - they had four Sunday - their season looks promising for postseason play.

Two interceptions is never a good thing, but credit the Viking defense early for reaching a hand in to tip a deep incut to Johnny Knox. I'm sure Johnny would like to just snatch the ball with his hands, rather than jump for a body catch.

Jay has already admitted he would like to throw the ball away or run it when he threw another redzone interception to Vikings safety Husain Abdullah. As Jay walked to the sideline, he and Mike Martz started to discuss the play. Both looked a little disgusted from a blown opportunity for more points.

Jay looked surprisingly relaxed today in the pocket. His pass protection was outstanding for most of the day and surely played a part in his easy going manner. He was very decisive, showed command, and accuracy with his throws early, his mobility was on display as well. Credit Mike Martz for calling these types of plays the last two weeks to get Jay in a rhythm - he executes them with ease.

I think the offense converting a 3rd and 6 on their opening drive was big for their confidence. When looks you practiced against all week show up in the game and you shred it with a first down, it feels pretty good. It just validates all your hard work. They finished 11 for 19 on the day which is an astounding 58 percent - that is hard to do in the NFL, I do not care who you play against.

I loved how at times he reset his feet, had a wide base and threw with great balance, it is the sure-fire way to being an accurate passer. He repeatedly reset his feet on movement plays along with straight drop-back passes.

His throw to Greg Olsen on 3rd and 14 that resulted in a touchdown was a beauty. That is video cut up room material! Really test book in terms of set up, mechanics, accuracy and throwing a laser for a score in windy conditions. He was patient on Greg's "nod" route (little stutter at five yards so linebacker thinks Y option) allowing him a step to come out the other end. Jay then fired a missile in front of the safeties who just are not able to react to that type of throw.

Execution can always be better, but I think Lovie Smith is digging where his defense is right now and is encouraged to see back to back good signs of life in his offense. The Bears really had control of this game especially when they logged 20 plays more than the Vikings.

Thursday Night against the Dolphins is a quick turnaround to play on the road. Lovie will have them flush the body Monday, a walk thru Tuesday, and then hop on a plane Wednesday.

This is not a lot of time to game plan. Lovie is always well prepared with the schedule to have his team ready.

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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

On the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Chris Emma, Seth Gruen and Danny Ecker join David Kaplan to discuss the Mark Sanchez signing. Does this mean the Bears won't draft a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft? 

Later, the White Sox named Jose Quintana their Opening Day starter, but lose Carlos Rodon and Todd Frazier to injuries. 

Finally, Robin Lopez is back after serving a one-game suspension. The panel looks at the Bulls matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below. 

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

The tumult around the Bears quarterback position this offseason – signing Mike Glennon, cutting Jay Cutler, not signing Brian Hoyer, now signing Mark Sanchez – was to be expected. (Well, not all the brouhaha around Sanchez; if there has ever been more hyperventilating around the arriving backup quarterback, it’s escaping my recollections of a quarter-century on the beat.)

All of that, and a lot of the noise around Mike Glennon is really missing a larger point. A couple, really.

GM Ryan Pace established fixing the quarterback situation as a top priority, something it has been just about since Jim McMahon left, with the exception of a few Jay Cutler years. Doing that to any meaningful degree with the castoff options available in free agency or via trades wasn’t ever going to happen. What Pace has done with the quarterback situation, however, is more than a little intriguing.

The quarterback additions and subtractions, coupled with also suggest a draft plan far from locked in on a quarterback. The signings of Glennon and Sanchez don’t mean the Bears have solved their quarterback position, but it does mean the Bears have positioned themselves with the distinct option of NOT taking a quarterback – this year.

But here’s the bigger point.

Even with the optimum quarterback solution unavailable – Pace arguably did go best-available in his and the coaches’ minds with Glennon and Sanchez, all derision aside – Pace’s goal needs to be building a team that can reach a high playoff level regardless of quarterback.

Meaning: defense. And while the 2017 free agent and draft classes did not offer must-have quarterbacks in most evaluations, there are those elite-level defensive talents, and every indication is that the Bears will look there, in the draft, and should be. It had that feeling when the Bears, with ample, money to spend, backed away from day one free-agency runs at a couple of pricey defensive backs. The Bears simply think they can do better for less in the draft.

A perspective: With a defense at its levels during the Brian Urlacher era, the Bears could reach the NFC championship game with what they have at quarterback now. They did, twice, with Rex Grossman and with Cutler. Sanchez got to AFC championship games in each of his first two seasons. The Bears reached a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as their quarterback. They went 13-3 in 2001 with a solid-but-unspectacular Jim Miller as their quarterback. They reached the 2005 playoffs with Kyle Orton as their starter most of that year, and should have been in the 2008 playoffs with him as well. The Bears reached the NFC championship game in 2010 with Cutler.

There is a common denominator in all of these situations, and it is within Pace’s grasp, and that was an elite defense. Rex Ryan had one with the Jets and Sanchez, Grossman and Orton and Cutler had theirs with Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Mike Brown, Tommie Harris, Charles Tillman, etc.

Forget the quarterback situation for now. Nothing anyone, including Pace, can really do anything about it (other than land possibly Deshaun Watson, based on their turnout at his Pro Day).

But if Pace and his personnel staff do this right, they can lay in the foundation for something elite on defense that will transcend the quarterback, or at least allow the Bears to play more than 16 games in a season even if they do not have a great quarterback. With the Urlacher core defense, the Bears went to postseasons with four different quarterbacks.

The prime directive now for Ryan Pace is to create precisely that model again.