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 guard Josh Sitton named as injury replacement in Pro Bowl

Bears guard Josh Sitton named as injury replacement in Pro Bowl

The Bears have another Pro Bowler.

After initially getting shut out on the Pro Bowl roster, the Bears have since had two players named as injury replacements with guard Josh Sitton now joining running back Jordan Howard.

Sitton was named as an injury replacement Monday afternoon for Packers guard T.J. Lang, who left Sunday's NFC Championship game early.

This will be Sitton's third straight Pro Bowl and fourth career honor.

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The 30-year-old offensive lineman signed with the Bears before 2016 after the Packers released him.

Sitton played in 13 of the Bears' 16 games including 12 starts, helping to anchor the Bears' line when healthy.

Howard replaced Cardinals running back David Johnson on the NFC Pro Bowl roster earlier this month.

Bad blood fueled Bears-Vikings playoff bout profiled in 'Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon'

Bad blood fueled Bears-Vikings playoff bout profiled in 'Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon'

From the high ground of hindsight, what unfolded in the Metrodome that day in 1995 was actually quite a big deal. But not for reasons that you could have really understood at the time watching the Bears stun the Minnesota Vikings 35-18 in the wild card round of the 1994 playoffs.

It was not so much the game alone. It was the overall context of the time for the Bears, before and after.

Though the 1995 season would get off to a 6-2 start for the Bears before their near-historic collapse, the Minnesota game would prove to be the high-water mark for the coaching tenure of Dave Wannstedt. This was the postseason, and the Bears looked to be going where then-president Mike McCaskey envisioned when he made the play to beat the New York Giants in securing Wannstedt, who was unquestionably the hot coaching prospect coming out of the Dallas Super Bowl pantheon after the 1992 season.

To fully grasp the situation, you need to understand the undercurrent of venom that had developed between the Bears and Vikings. Bears-Packers might have been the glitzy rivalry, but what had grown between the Bears and Vikings was true hostility, with little of the respect that the Bears and Packers had managed. The Vikings carried grudges for Pro Bowl slights going back almost to the Bears' Super Bowl win. One Bears defensive lineman remarked that his most hated opponent was Minnesota right tackle Tim Irwin, adding, "He's a guy that, if I ran over him with a car, I'd back up over him to make sure I got him." Dwayne Rudd's backpedaling taunt after an interception came a couple years later, but you get the idea.

What's easily forgotten looking back through the mists of time was the epic decision made by Wannstedt to make a quarterback change, from a quarterback he wanted in free agency to one he knew well from their time together at the University of Miami. That was every bit the turning point of the season and the real reason the playoff trip and win ever happened.

The Bears had been annihilated in their first game against the Vikings in the 1994 season — 42-14 — and something was really, really wrong, which become glaringly more evident just a few weeks later, even though the Bears were reaching a 4-2 mark under quarterback Erik Kramer, the centerpiece of an aggressive offseason foray into free agency. But the Bears then lost — badly — to the Lions and Packers, with Kramer throwing three interceptions against Detroit and two against Green Bay, the latter in only 10 pass attempts.

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I talked privately to Kramer after the Green Bay game, specifically about why it was that he was playing his absolute worst against Detroit, Green Bay and Minnesota, all teams with which he was intimately familiar. My thought: You know those defenses and where their people are going to be.

Kramer shook his head: "The 'other guys' I know. It's my own guys. I don't know where they're supposed to be."

It wasn't a comment on his receivers whatsoever. It was Kramer admitting bluntly that he was not getting the West Coast scheme of coordinator Ron Turner and its timing element.

Wannstedt knew it wasn't working and made the change to Steve Walsh, who'd been the Hurricanes' quarterback under Jimmy Johnson when Wannstedt was the defensive coordinator.

That was the tipping point, and Walsh and Wannstedt are among the principals of "Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon," airing on Monday at 8 p.m. on CSN.

Anyone with any time spent in or around the NFL knows that beating a team three times in a season is incredibly difficult. The Bears had been blown out in the first Minnesota game but had pushed the Vikings to overtime in the second and would have won had Kevin Butler not missed a 40-yard field goal try.

The playoff meeting was No. 3, and after the Vikings put up a field goal in the first quarter, the Bears scored with a Lewis Tillman touchdown in the second and just pulled steadily away from the winner of the only NFL division that produced four teams with winning records.

From there it would be another decade-plus — 2006 season — before the Bears would win a playoff game.