15 on 6: Cutler understands Bears-Packers rivalry

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15 on 6: Cutler understands Bears-Packers rivalry

Friday, Sept. 24, 2010
4:45 PM

By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

Just got off air for Sirius NFL Radio. I could not have been more fired up to chat with Jay Cutler, who joined us on air today. To give you a little background about this weekend's matchup, I asked Jay last year, when he arrived in Chicago, if he realized what BearsPackers represented? After all, the start of his Bears career kicked off Week 1 against the dreaded rival Packers. I could tell by his response, he was not prepared for what he was getting into. He acknowledged as much in a follow-up interview later in the year. The promise of a coach, the backlash of the fans, and former players with plenty of analysis.

What a difference a year makes. The most storied rivalry in football resumes Monday Night with a Bears QB at the helm who now understands the gravity of the game. Jay mentioned he never experienced a game with as much intensity and hype in the AFC West. San Diego was the team to beat, but Kansas City was historically always Denver's rival. The Raiders assumed that mantle because of Mike Shanahan's hatred of Al Davis. My point is, rivalries cannot be manufactured. Bears vs. Green Bay is the most pure, historical, emotional and intense a match-up that can never be duplicated. You have to experience it, to understand what it truly means and how deep it goes.

Green Bay D

Slow down Clay Matthews! Jay talked about why he has backpedaled from underneath the center quite a bit in the first two games. Sometimes you just need to see what is going on! Facing Kyle Vandenboesch, DeMarcus Ware and now Clay Matthews, look for that to continue. Matthews has six sacks after two games, the first Packer ever to accomplish that feat. Sometimes, I expect Clay to be completely unblocked to set up a screen to his side. The Bears have been very impressive with their screen game this year. Backpedaling out allows Jay more comfort seeing hot reads and anticipating throws.

No Huddle

I would expect a no huddle at some point from the Bears or a lot of quick content. Line up and go! It is problematic for Green Bay. When I ran the scout team for the Steelers, our defensive coordinator Dom Capers and linebackers coach Dick Labeau were starting to forge their careers on defense. They hated no huddle and quick count. The strength of Dom's 3-4 defense is their pre-snap look is very different than their post-snap reality. They want to show one thing and do something entirely different as the cadence moves along to the snap. No huddle and quick count will force Green Bay to line up into their final defensive look. The Bears can force Green Bay to show their hand, and now Jay can call a favorable play at the line of scrimmage.

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.

Complete Bears-Cowboys coverage on CSN

Complete Bears-Cowboys coverage on CSN

The Bears and Dallas Cowboys square off Sunday at 7:30 p.m. on NBC and CSN Chicago has you covered along the way.

Check out a schedule of Sunday's events:

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— State Farm Bears Postgame Live airing immediately after the game on CSN.

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Next couple weeks a critical opportunity for Brian Hoyer, Bears

Next couple weeks a critical opportunity for Brian Hoyer, Bears

One overarching NFL reality is that with extremely rare exception, the quarterback position is always a matter for discussion and planning.

Even in Green Bay when Brett Favre was setting the standard for durability, the Packers were about succession planning, cycling through quality backups (Mark Brunell, Aaron Brooks, Matt Hasselbeck) until one – Aaron Rodgers – was needed.

Even in New England, where Tom Brady wasn’t missing a game for 14 of the last 15 seasons, yet the Patriots were drafting quarterbacks in the second or third rounds of three of the last six drafts.

What the Bears are confronting last weekend and this Sunday is a template for what could be their tactics for the position in the year or years ahead. The Philadelphia Eagles with Carson Wentz and Dallas Cowboys with Dak Prescott are starting (and winning with) rookies who were selected into a depth chart presumably already set with a starter in place. And the Bears have faced a situation in their recent past eerily similar to one just three years ago that, had it been handled differently, might have positioned the Bears somewhere similar to where Dallas and Philadelphia now find themselves.

With Jay Cutler in the final year of his contract calling for guaranteed money, 2016 was clearly a prove-it year for him irrespective of the Bears’ failure to invest a meaningful draft pick in a possible successor. Now Cutler is injured and Brian Hoyer is the presumptive starter, setting up a potential scenario not altogether unlike what they faced in 2013 when Josh McCown stepped in twice when Cutler was hurt.

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McCown played the best football of his career, giving the Bears the option of re-signing him as a placeholder and pursuing a young apprentice, which the Marc Trestman coaching staff favored, or signing Cutler to a massive contract and committing to him as a franchise quarterback, which GM Phil Emery did.

Hoyer may or may not play remotely as well as McCown did. But this is not entirely a position competition between Cutler and Hoyer, any more than Cutler-McCown was. Should Hoyer perform creditably, however, as he did last year to get the Houston Texans into the playoffs, he gives the Bears another “McCown Option” – an affordable, competent-if-unspectacular veteran who starts until such time as the young quarterback is ready. That could be as early as the draft pick’s rookie season – as Wentz was correctly judged to be in Philadelphia, as Russell Wilson once was in Seattle, and Prescott is demonstrating in Dallas.

Wentz was not going to start for Philadelphia before the Eagles were offered a can’t-refuse offer by the Minnesota Vikings for Sam Bradford. Prescott was not drafted to be a starter, but Tony Romo’s preseason back injury and Kellen Moore’s broken ankle changed whatever QB plan the Cowboys had.

If there’s a twist to the situation it lies in the fact that it is far from necessary to believe that winning quarterbacks lie only in the first round. Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall pick, is still riding the Los Angeles Rams bench. Paxton Lynch, grabbed by Denver at the end of round one, wasn’t able to take the Broncos’ starting job away from Trevor Siemian, the 250th pick of the 2015 draft whose only action last season was one kneel-down.

But Jacoby Brissett, New England’s third-round pick this year, and Cody Kessler, Cleveland’s 2016 No. 3 pick, are starting, jokes about Cleveland notwithstanding.

The Bears looked closely at Marcus Mariota going into the 2015 draft. But they were faced with a franchise decision of expending massive draft capital in a trade, something they did once upon a time in 2009 for Cutler and didn’t want to do again with other needs to fill.

Ryan Pace has had 15 draft choices in his two drafts as Bears general manager. None were invested in a quarterback. He will not go a third draft weekend without discussing the quarterback the Bears selected in (insert round here).