Chicago Bears

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.

Bears: Kyle Long looks set for 2017 debut while Josh Sitton doubtful for Week 3

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USA TODAY

Bears: Kyle Long looks set for 2017 debut while Josh Sitton doubtful for Week 3

Kyle Long was a full participant in back-to-back practices Thursday and Friday, and wasn't listed on the team's injury report Friday, clearing the path for the three-time Pro Bowler to make his 2017 debut Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s been a lengthy, grueling process for Long to get to this point, with significant muscle atrophy in his ankle and a setback during training camp further delaying his return to the field. 

Where Long plays in his 2017 debut will be interesting to watch. The Bears have planned on moving him from right guard to left guard, though with Josh Sitton doubtful with a rib injury, Long — who didn’t get many full-team reps at left guard during training camp anyway — could start on the right side Sunday. 

Part of the equation, too, is that Cody Whitehair has more experience with the Bears at left guard, where he played until Sitton was signed before the beginning of the 2016 season. If Tom Compton (hip, questionable?) can’t play on Sunday, Whitehair presumably will move to guard while Hroniss Grasu will start at center. Whitehair did play both left and right guard in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to the injuries to Sitton and Compton. 

No matter where Long starts, though, his return will provide a boost to an offensive line that’s been flooded with extra defenders against the run so far this year. The Steelers would be smart to take the same stack-the-box approach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did, which led to Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen being limited to 20 yards on 16 carries. 

Fox said Long won't be on a concrete snap count, but the Bears will evaluate him throughout the game. But even if Long isn’t 100 percent, or doesn’t play 100 percent of the snaps, he can be a difference-maker for an offense that’s needed difference-makers in 2017. 

“I mean, the expectations are where they left off when I left. I always have high expectations,” Long said. “If you play the game you change the game. If you’re out there doing anything other than that then you’re just witnessing it, you’re watching. It’s not a spectator sport.”

How the Bears coached up Tarik Cohen after his punt return mistake in Tampa

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USA TODAY

How the Bears coached up Tarik Cohen after his punt return mistake in Tampa

It’s not that Bears special teams coach Jeff Rodgers never wants Tarik Cohen to try to pick up another punt that’s bouncing deep into Bears territory. It’s just that he doesn’t want the explosive rookie to try to pick up the ball when he’s surrounded by multiple defenders. 

That’s what Cohen did on Sunday, leading to a prompt fumble recovered by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which needed only one play to get in the end zone after the fourth-round pick’s gaffe. The challenge for Rodgers then is coaching up Cohen to retain his aggressiveness, but not make the same mistake twice. 

“We’re not down on the kid,” Rodgers said. “He’s trying to make an aggressive play and that’s always going to be in his nature. That’s what you like about the kid. 

“… I think you’ve just got to coach him as time goes on and say, ‘hey, the reason why you wouldn’t do something like that in this situation is because of this,’ or ‘this was a good play because of that.’ It’s so hard as a coach to prepare a player for every possible scenario, so you’re trying to give him general guidelines and rules to follow in the different situations he finds himself in.”

Cohen said after Sunday’s game he wanted to keep the ball from bleeding further toward the Bears’ goal line. He owned his mistake and made no excuses for it, saying if he faces that situation again he won’t try to grab the ball. 

But Rodgers pointed out a pair of punt return touchdowns that began with a player picking up a bouncing ball deep in their own territory: This from Tavon Austin and this Trindon Holliday score. Cohen has the skill to make a similar play, so Rodgers doesn’t want him avoiding every single bouncing ball from here on out. 

He just wants Cohen to be smarter when confronted with a bouncing ball and a handful of defenders surrounding him. 

“You’re not trying to dwell on the negative and keep reminding him that he made a mistake on the field,” Rodgers said. “You’re trying to coach him as best we can before those things happen and say, ‘hey, if you ever get in this situation...’ But a lot of that is learning experience. Unfortunately that one didn’t work out but hopefully next time, based on field position, based on proximity of opponent players, he’ll make a different decision.