15 on 6: Cutler taking charge due to run threat

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15 on 6: Cutler taking charge due to run threat

Sunday, Nov. 29, 2010
9:28 PM

By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

The one element of Jay Cutler's game that has jumped out at me the last two ball games has been his decisiveness.

The direct correlation in committing to the run game the last four games, I believe, has benefited Jay when play action passes are called. Plenty of play action passes have been dialed up by Mike Martz during the Bears four-game winning streak. If you are averaging roughly 30 run plays in the last four games, the opponent has to respect it.

Then, when play action opportunities arise, it causes a slight hesitation by linebackers and safeties which has cleared up reads for Cutler. The windows to throw the ball into are bigger and the QB has felt confident in what he is seeing to pull the trigger.

Awareness

Cutler has also been decisive in tucking the ball and running as well, which stresses out a defense. Normally the QB is the unaccounted man when it comes to running the football, but Cutler is quickly becoming a running threat defenses have to defend, much like the Bears defense had to account for Michael Vick Sunday.

Cutler has been uncanny in his awareness and ability to feel pressure and find the escape route out of the pocket. Most quarterbacks struggle with this element of the position because it really is a sixth sense of the game. I do not want you to recall the days of Rex Grossman, but he never had this type of feel at the position.

Do not compound the problem

Another area of awareness and good decision making displayed by Cutler on Sunday was not compounding the issues early by the offensive line.

The Bears gave up four sacks in the first half, which makes it is easy for a QB to panic or force a throw due to the pressure. Nobody likes negative plays, especially sacks where your quarterback is taking a shot, but Cutler took his medicine against the Eagles.

It is never the worst thing in the world to punt the football and allow your stellar defense to get back on the field. Cutler weighed the risk against the rewards and trusted the offensive line would sort it out in the second half.

Earlier in the year, Cutler panicked and threw costly interceptions when protection broke down (at New York Giants, vs. Washington). Now he is tucking and running or taking the negative play. He could always take it a step further and just throw the ball away when he knows there is not a fighting chance.

Overall, Cutler has been much better with his decisions in these last four games. He was exceptional today, completing 14 of 21 passes for 247 yards, with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Just clear up the sacks, because the last thing the Bears need is for Cutler to go down with an injury when everything is clicking offensively.

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 announce training camp schedule

Bears announce training camp schedule

The Bears released their official training camp schedule Thursday morning. After reporting to Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday, July 26, the first of ten practices open to the public will take place the following day. The Bears will be based out of Bourbonnais for the 16th straight season. Training camp will go through Sunday, Aug. 13 before the Bears break camp and finish the preseason in Lake Forest. 

All practices are tentatively scheduled to start at various times during the 11 a.m. hour with the exception of Saturday, Aug. 13, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Those times are subject to change based on weather, and a varying set of schedules that John Fox and his coaching staff have set up, as they adjust to player and training staff preferences in hopes of reducing injuries. 

Also, new this season, fans wanting to attend practices must order free tickets in advance through the Bears website. Fans will not be allowed in without a ticket, and the first 1,000 fans each day will be given various souvenirs. The practice campus will be open to the public with tickets from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Here is the full training camp schedule:

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

Quintin Demps set a career high in interceptions last year by not doing anything different. And that’s the message he’s sending a defense that generated only 11 takeaways in 2016, tied for the lowest single-season total in NFL history. 

Demps went from picking off four passes in both 2013 with the Kansas City Chiefs and 2014 with the New York Giants to notching just one interception with the Houston Texans in 2015. In 2016, though, Demps intercepted six passes, broke up nine more and totaled 38 tackles. 

“Turnovers are like, it’s not something that you go get, it’s something you let come to you by doing your job first and then helping out,” Demps said. “And then you’d be surprised how they come to you by doing your job and being aware of when you can help somebody out. A lot of times when you get help is when you get picks and turnovers.”

The danger for a defense coming off a historically bad takeaway is sort of a whiplash effect, where there’s an over-emphasis on creating turnovers and not enough attention paid to, as Demps said, “doing your job.” There’s a fine line between being opportunistic and undisciplined.

“I tell my safeties all the time, we gotta tackle first,” Demps said. “Tackle first, don’t miss any tackles and then the picks are going to come. I promise you that.”

The Bears felt positively after signs of being more opportunistic as a defense during shorts-and-helmets practices in May and June, though if that was because of any real improvements or because the defense is usually ahead of the offense is hard to tell at this stage of the year. 

The offseason program was valuable for the Bears’ secondary in growing trust within a group that had — no pun intended — plenty of turnover after the 2016 season. The hope is that the offseason additions of Demps, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and Eddie Jackson will solidify the secondary and lead to something better than last year’s historically-low turnover total. 

“We’re still trying to build something, but the actual, real building happens in training camp because I think then you start to see the group start to get formed and yo know who’s going to go with the one’s, who’s going to go with the two’s, stuff like that,” Amukamara said. “So I think that starts to get formed. But I think with a lot of guys now, I think what that creates is competition and guys trying their hardest to make the team.”