15 on 6: Cutler's worst performance to date

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15 on 6: Cutler's worst performance to date

Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010
7:03 PM
By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

Lethargic.

That's how I would classify how Jay Cutler looked in Sunday's loss to Seattle.

He was slow on his reads, if he knew them at all. I can point to several individual plays where his decision making alone would have moved the chains, thus putting the Bears in position to win. This is on top of the missed blocking assignments, missed hot reads and no commitment to the running game.

As always, the Bears get another break with Green Bay losing Sunday and Minnesota still on life support. Jay is too good a quarterback for these things to happen.

It is gut-check time.

I wrote in my last blog what Jay needed to do coming off injury. He needed to cross the bridge of getting hit, settle in and get mentally focused. It never materialized. He did get hit early, but missed several reads to get something going offensively.

In the fourth series of the game, Jay missed an easy dump off to the running back when the Bears were backed up in a field position battle. Jay, instead, elects to throw the deep curl route into three defenders on 2nd-and-10 that nearly got picked off. Chester Taylor is wide open in the flat off of "Chili 137" protection (fake the outside zone run, the running back looks to block WLB, if he's not there, he leaks to the flat). Missing his third read in the route tells me Jay was not mentally into it and definitely not seeing the field.

How many times do we talk about situational play? It is everything in the NFL. If you hit the wide open running back, you are in a minimum 3rd-and-5 situation, not third-and-10. Knowing what I know about Taylor, he makes a tackler miss for another two or three yards minimum. You have now dug your team out of a hole and even if you do not convert the third-and-short, Brad Maynard is not punting out of his own end zone.

Nothing wrong with playing the field position battle. Another example of Jay not knowing his assignment was on "Flanker Drive" (I broke this play down last year in this Blog if you need reference). Jay's missed read of Devin Hester, who is the No. 1 read and wide open on third-and-short leads to the missed 54-yard field goal. The score is 23-13 at the time. Think about it, the final score is 23-20. If Jay hits Devin, they move the chains and even if the drive does not conclude with a touchdown, Robbie is not sweating making 54-yarders. Give your team a chance, thinking the game allows you to play the game with confidence. That was bad football and Jay is better than that.

CEO

As the starting QB of your football team, you are the chief executive officer. If guys do not know their assignments, you tell them. When you are unsure yourself, there is a problem. Jay looked unsure of his own responsibilities Sunday, let alone everyone else's.

Jay needs to know future game plans inside and out. It is why Peyton Manning and Tom Brady never look panicked -- they are prepared for everything their opponent is doing or what they could do -- they have an answer, so there is no reason to panic.

This was Jay's worst performance to date and he is coming off injury. There are many challenges to learning a new offense, but he's the guy who needs to dig deeper.

I am concerned going into this weeks game against Washington because if Jay could not sort out Seattle's "Tampa 2" defense with added wrinkles, Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will be licking his chops.

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.”