15 on 6: Cutler successful, but not happy

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15 on 6: Cutler successful, but not happy

Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010
1:50 PM

By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

Hungry

The best part of being in first place in the NFC North is that Jay Cutler is not happy. The first words uttered by Jay at the post game press conference..."I did not play well." That is what leaders do and what Bears fans expect from their trigger man. Man Up! But what Jay did do, was play well enough in critical moments when the game was on the line.

The Bears had their greatest success when they had to line up in a static formation and just go. (See prior blog)

Before the Half

Green Bay had to show their hand defensively right before the half and the Bears took advantage, as Greg Olsen found pay dirt with a nine-yard touchdown. To prove my point, before this point in the game, Jay even stated in his post game presser that, "they were moving around quite a bit."

It was a two-minute-drill situation. Offensively, knowing time is an issue and the Bear's just lined up and ran the play call. It forced Green Bay to get to their landmarks defensively prior to the snap. This cleaned up the read for Jay, enabling him to hit Johnny Knox on the post corner route down the left sideline. It was Jay's best throw of the night, in a big spot, when a play had to be made. He dropped back with authority, saw the coverage with confidence, and delivered a perfectly placed strike. This is the rhythm in the passing game that Jay and the offense have been aspiring to achieve.

3rd quarter - 4th and 1 at the 1

The Bears have been unpredictable offensively in their first three ball games.

1. Lions- Screen game to the backs was focus

2. Dallas - Adjustments to beat the blitz

3. Green Bay- Not enough offensive plays (only 48), but 7 different targets hit. Aaron Rodgers hit 8. For opponents of the Bears, who do you defend? Hester has made plays (Dallas one hand TD), Aromashodu (Lions game), Knox, Olsen, Forte, Bennett, and Jay being a threat to run. Green Bay ran a lot of cover 2 with man coverage underneath. Jay recognized and shredded it by taking off right down the middle of the field. You cannot defend the QB scrambling with that defensive play call. Opponents will take note.

Opposing defenses must now expect the unexpected. On fourth down and one at the goal line Desmond Clark failed to catch a poorly thrown flat route by Jay, but Green Bay was not prepared for Clark to be the primary target. Who says Martz does not use tight ends? That is good football, great game planning, and uncanny play calling. What the Bears have put on tape the first three weeks is going to prove difficult for teams to defend.

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.

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Improvement typically comes in incremental steps, not leaps. And the Bears of 2017, based on what they have done at a handful of positions, the latest being Thursday’s signing of wide receiver Victor Cruz, fit that template.

The clear organizational commitment is to build through the draft, even if injuries have undermined some otherwise apparent upgrades to starting lineups on both sides of the football. But if there is a “theme” to what GM Ryan Pace is doing to muscle up a sluggish roster, it is that the Bears are willing to take flyers on veteran players – with additions like four veteran wide receivers with injury and issue histories – that arguably point to a win-now mindset while draft picks develop and contribute.

Jaye Howard and John Jenkins. Make the defensive line “better?” Than Jonathan Bullard and Will Sutton, probably. But “good?” Mmmmm…..

The game-one tight ends last year were Zach Miller-Logan Paulsen-Gregg Scruggs. Now they’re Miller-Dion Sims-Adam Shaheen (based on a second-round draft choice). “Good?” Maybe, maybe not. “Better?” Obviously, based on Sims alone.

Mike Glennon-Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky. Bears “better” at quarterback? Than Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley, probably. “Good?” Mmmmmm…..

The decisions to sign Glennon and Sanchez to the quarterback depth chart have sparked their shares of understandable cynical skepticism. But Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo were not available in trade, so the Pace decision was to gamble on upside with Glennon over the known quantity of Brian Hoyer (the preference of some coaches) and certainly Jay Cutler, for whom “potential” and “upside” no longer applied.

Add in the aggressive draft of Trubisky and the result was three possibilities of hits on a quarterback (Sanchez and Connor Shaw being combined here as a pair entry in the hit-possibility scenarios). All three were deemed an improvement over Cutler and/or Barkley.

The results may not vault the Bears all the way up to “good” at the pivotal position for any franchise. But “better” is sometimes all you can realistically manage.

Taking a wider-screen look at wide receiver in this context… .

Coach John Fox has cited the need for the Bears to establish the ability to get yardage in bigger chunks. Accordingly, all four of the veteran wideout signings this offseason – Cruz, Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright –  have posted yards-per-catch seasons of 14 or longer.

All four won’t be on the opening-day roster, but all four offer the promise of major impact. Cruz, Randle and Wright have had seasons of 70 or more receptions, and Wheaton topped out at 53 in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice weren’t available, so “good” was hard to achieve in an offseason in which Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were expected departures long before their exits. But are Cruz, Randle, Wheaton and Wright, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, a “better” starting point than Jeffery, Royal, White, Bellamy, etc. of a year ago?

Obviously. But players with even moderately established NFL “names” (like Cruz, Randle, etal.) are typically available for a reason; teams do not routinely give up on talent. And none of the four come without significant shadows on their NFL resumes, whether for injury or other questions.

Cruz missed most of 2014 and all of the 2015 season, and hasn’t played a full season since his Pro Bowl year of 2012.

Randle was described as a head case by scouts and was so bad that he was let go in the Eagles’ cutdown to 75 last year, followed by disparaging comments from those in and around the organization.

Wheaton flashed promise in his 2014-15 opportunities as a part-time starter but played just three games before a shoulder injury landed him on IR last season.

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Wright, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to pick up his fifth-year option going into las season. But by week 14 he was benched for tardiness and was a healthy DNP in game 16, announcing after the game that he already knew he was not in the Titans’ plans for 2017.

The prospect of the Bears going from 3-13 to “good” borders on fantasy. But if being among the NFL’s busiest this offseason hasn’t propelled the Bears to that level, the results point to “better.” At this point, that’s something,.

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

The Bears inked Victor Cruz to a one-year deal on Thursday, adding another receiver to an already crowded corps.

But it never hurts to add a veteran one to a young group, especially with a new starting quarterback.

Cruz is 30 years old and isn't the same Pro Bowl-caliber player he was before missing the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but he surely has a lot left in the tank and can serve as a great mentor for the Bears receivers.

Just how big of an impact will he have on his new team? See what the SportsTalk Live panel had to say in the video above.