15 on 6: Cutler was Catalyst for Bears on Sunday

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15 on 6: Cutler was Catalyst for Bears on Sunday

Monday, October 5th
CSNChicago.com
Jay Cutler proved to be the catalyst on Sunday as the Chicago Bears played down to the level of their opponent during week 4. Many times, as a player, you sense your team is just not "feeling it" on gameday. You build upall week preparing mentally and physically for Sunday. I have been through great weeks of practice where your confident everyone is "locked in" as a team, only to go out andlay an egg. Other times, practices were so wretched you worried of the embarrassment along with the wrath of coaches that would soon follow a poor performanceonly to besurprised when the team put forth one of its best efforts. Normally, a player steps up and stops the bleeding in the later scenario which Jay Cutler did today.

I couldalways tell in the huddle if we were going through the motions.Asthe startingquarterback, you are in charge of the group. You have to do something to get the blood flowing in the offense. It could be changing the tempo with snap count, the inflection of your voice calling plays to create a sense of urgency, or it could be flat out making a play. Jay infused not only the offense, buthisentire team. The excitement from asell out crowd was his bonus. Three times with great plays, Jay stopped the bleeding for the Bears in the first half. Otherwise, it could have been a long day.

1. Look at the reactionfrom Bear teammates whenJay leaped into the end zone for the Bears first score. Heearned more trust displaying he willsacrifice his bodyfor his team when called upon. When you have a chance to score in the NFL, YOU DO IT! Too many things can go wrong on any play. Just look at the 3rd downand goal situation early third quarter as reference. Jaytried to hand offa power play to Matt Forte but was stepped on by pullingRG Roberto Garza thus,the Bears had to settle for a field goal by Robbie Gould.You must seize the opportunity when you have it and Jay knowing the moment cashed in withunselfishness and great effort on his touchdown run.

2. I originally thoughthis second big play was a double post, but after seeing the replay, it was a deep dig route (in cut)toEarl Bennett. Hester was in the slot with Bennett on his outside. Jay faked the play action to his left, which is tough actionfor a right handed thrower. The reason is your eyes come off the safeties as you drop to fake and your back is to the defense. Also, you are dropping opposite of what you need to set your feetto deliver the football. You need to make your fake a good onetofreeze thedefender over the slot and the middle linebacker who could potentially drop into the lane of the throw. Once you reel around you better locate that backside safety quickly because he is your key. If the safety bites on the dig route, Jay may have potentially hitHester down the middle who was influencing by clearing him deep. Lions safety Ko Simpsonwas threatened enough by Hester's speed for Jay to pull the trigger for a 25 yard gain to Bennett, which set up the two yard TD pass to TE KellenDavis.

3.Touchdown number one when Jay called his own number influenced touchdown number three to Greg Olsen in the second quarter. Offensive Coordinator Ron Turner wanted to put the ball in the hot hand of Jay at this point. It was a 4th down and goal call. Give Jay the run pass option. The Lions already witnessed Jay running for a score. They immediately reacted when Jay bootlegged out to prevent him from doing it again. It became an easy touchdown toss to Greg Olsen in the back of the end zone to put the Bears ahead 21 to 14.

This is why the NFL is a QB driven league. A quarterback like Jay Cutler can elevate everyone's play. It's what franchise QB's do. You can't tell me the Indianapolis Colts defense is better than the Bears. Why are the Coltsundefeated? When the offensive line is notup to snuff, Manning makes a play!WhenJosephAddai got hurt last year, Manning made plays! When soonto be Hall of Fame WR Marvin Harrison retired, the offense has not missed a beat! Be thankful for Jay Cutler. Ron Turner is! His play calling just got a hell of a lot easier this year. The last three weeks have proved it withso-called nowide receivers and an offense that supposedly can't run the ball.

Meaningless preseason Game 4 can tilt Bears, other roster decisions

Meaningless preseason Game 4 can tilt Bears, other roster decisions

The Bears will conclude their preseason with the Cleveland Browns for the 13th straight season, part of the NFL’s preference for teams playing closer to home in final preseason games such as Buffalo at Detroit, Indianapolis at Cincinnati, Houston at Dallas and Jacksonville at Atlanta, among others.

Correlations between Bears results in Game 4 and what the regular season holds aren’t worth the effort. But several other aspects of Bears-Browns will be:

Who’s up, who’s down

Who plays and who doesn’t have decidedly different meanings for Game 3 vs. Game 4. Healthy scratches from Game 3 typically are at risk in the first round of cuts; five of those DNP’s were among the initial cuts.

The reverse is commonly the case in Game 4. Players sitting out are generally those already included in the roster plans, with playing time going to backups competing for a late roster spot or to show skills sufficient for scouts from other teams to look for them on the waiver wire after the weekend’s final trims. Virtually all of the Bears players sitting out Game 4 last year, won by the Bears 24-0, were ticketed for the initial 53-man roster.

The Bears face some tight decisions at a number of positions, not the least of which is at wide receiver, where only Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White are assured roster spots. Marc Mariani has played his way into quarterback Jay Cutler’s comfort zone and is in a contest with oft-injured Eddie Royal for the No. 3/slot receiver job. Both could secure spots on the “53” as could Josh Bellamy, who was among the Bears’ top special-teams tacklers.

[MORE: CB K'Waun Williams reportedly fails physical with Bears]

Royal is guaranteed $4.5 million for 2016 but Bears Chairman George McCaskey has been consistent in stating that money will not be the sole reason for personnel decisions.

Rookie Daniel Braverman has been a non-factor in games and has not flashed on special teams. Cameron Meredith has a TD catch but has not stepped out on special teams, while returner Deonte Thompson has not been able to overcome injuries enough to make a clear roster statement yet.

“It's so tough,” Royal said. “We've got a lot of guys who can play. This is one of the most talented groups I've ever been around, just from top to bottom. These guys can play, you can see it out there with these practices and the few preseason games that we've had, the guys are out there making plays, so it's going to be some tough decisions to make because everybody in our room can play.”

A chance for an impression

A small handful of players may see the field simply because the Bears haven’t had many chances to see them this training camp and preseason. And they may just need some work.

Linebackers Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, both coming off leg injuries that ended their 2014 seasons, both started and played nearly two-dozen snaps against the Browns. Hroniss Grasu, a roster lock as a third-round pick, nevertheless started at center and played every snap. Charles Leno Jr., after starting in a trial at right tackle the two previous games, was tried at left tackle and showed enough to hold onto the swing-tackle job while Jordan Mills’ Bears tenure was ended.

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This year linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski was a fourth-round Bears pick in this year’s draft but went down with a hamstring injury early in camp and hasn’t seen the field at all through preseason.

“Truth be told, we didn’t see a whole lot of him,” said coach John Fox. “Obviously, we evaluated him on his college tape. Saw him in some of the offseason stuff. He got hurt very early on in camp. It was a legit injury to his hamstring. He’s been in meetings. He’s been with us. But as far as our true evaluation, it’s a little bit of a leap of faith. We’ll kind of march down that road as we move forward.”

How special are ‘teams?

Non-starters typically need to demonstrate a willingness and ability to play special teams. Linebackers Jonathan Anderson and John Timu were undrafted longshots going into camp but played double-digit snaps on special teams, contributed tackles, and by season’s end had each started three games.

The Bears have been anemic on punt returns (1.9 ypr.) and the Bears have spread the job around looking for solutions.

And pay attention to Browns special-team’ers. The Bears once were impressed by the special-teams devastation wrought by Browns fullback Tyler Clutts in the 2011 Game 4 against them. The Browns waived Clutts, the Bears signed him to a three-year deal and Clutts played through the 2015 season, finishing last year with the Dallas Cowboys.

Report: CB K'Waun Williams fails physical with Bears

Report: CB K'Waun Williams fails physical with Bears

The Bears search for cornerback depth will continue.

K'Waun Williams, who the Bears were awarded off waivers from the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday, failed his physical and will now become a free agent, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The 25-year-old Williams was suspended by the Browns for two weeks after he refused to play due to an injury in the team's preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers. Following the team-issued two-week suspension, the Browns waived Williams.

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Williams, who signed with the Browns as undrafted free agent out of Pittsburgh in 2014, served as the Browns starting nickel cornerback over the past two seasons. In 26 career games, Williams amassed 60 tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles and two passes defended.

The Bears will have to look elsewhere for cornerback depth as starters' Tracy Porter (concussion), Kyle Fuller (knee) and nickel corner Bryce Callahan (hamstring) are currently sidelined.

The Bears roster now stands at 74.

Bears claim Browns castoff defensive back K’Waun Williams

Bears claim Browns castoff defensive back K’Waun Williams

This could be interesting.

Bears coach John Fox made a passing reference to “owies” last week, an apparent reference to the typical nicks and bruises that players suffer, presumably falling on the safe side of the pain-vs.-injury line. Coaches like players to play when they can.

The Cleveland Browns suspended K’Waun Williams this offseason for two weeks after the former No. 1 Cleveland nickel cornerback refused to play in the Aug. 12 Browns preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers.

Now the Bears have claimed Williams, 25, waiving cornerback Kevin Peterson, and hope Williams is past what the Browns look to have deemed just their version of an “owie.”

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Williams’ release comes after a convoluted disagreement between player and team, with Williams obtaining medical opinions that he needed surgery to remove bone spurs from an ankle. The team said that Williams never informed them of his ankle problems until the day after the Green Bay game.

The Bears have struggled mightily this preseason to find anything close to a healthy cornerback. Starters Kyle Fuller (knee) and Tracy Porter (concussion) are currently sidelined along with nickel corner Bryce Callahan (hamstring). Jacoby Glenn started for Fuller at New England but also left with a concussion.