15 on 6: Moving past the New England massacre

338814.jpg

15 on 6: Moving past the New England massacre

Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010
10:05 PM

By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

Sunday's score would lead you to believe the Patriots are head and shoulders above the Chicago Bears.

The reality is, in key situations the Patriots are better, but in talent, they are not. The Bears missed out on an opportunity to show the league how good a team they really are.

Where it went wrong

I mentioned in the pregame blog the Bears needed to run the ball utilizing three tight end or "heavy sets," and they came out on their opening drive with that exact personnel grouping and were moving the ball on the ground. The key situation where they failed was on 3rd-and-1 to keep the drive alive.

Again, they needed to weather the storm (literally) by the Patriots offense to keep pace until Tom Brady made a mistake. Instead, Greg Olsen misses his critical kickout block on New England cornerback Devin McCourty. If the 265-pound TE hammers the 190-pound CB, the Bears are looking at a house call to the end zone for Matt Forte.

The Bears were out of this personnel grouping as soon as Johnny Knox's fumble was returned for a touchdown, and in a heartbeat, trailed 21-0.

Chicago did force three Brady mistakes, but did not make the play to capitalize. Defensively, The Bears mixed up their coverages between single safety man coverage with blitz, single safety cover-3, and their staple Tampa-2.

That is realistically about all you can do against QB's the caliber of Brady or Peyton Manning. Unfortunately, the Bears defense was unable to squeeze what could have been three key interceptions.

Frustrated

Jay Cutler seemed to get frustrated after the Knox drop on 3rd-and-18. Martz dialed up a dash play to move the pocket, Jay rolled right and delivered a perfect throw to Knox who has to make the play. Jay already knew the game was lost after that play.

It was the last drive where they realistically had a chance to get back in the game and it was only the middle of the second quarter. Jay must regroup this offense to get them focused on the task at hand in Minnesota - or wherever that game will be played if the Metrodome isn't fixed in time.

They have a chance to lock up the division with a win over the Vikings and a Green Bay loss in New England. He must take care of business under the lights next Monday night.

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.

A year after using franchise tag, Bears preparing for post-Alshon Jeffery scenarios

A year after using franchise tag, Bears preparing for post-Alshon Jeffery scenarios

INDIANAPOLIS – About this time last year, Bears general manager Ryan Pace was evincing optimism about progress toward a long-term deal with wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. That eventually faded to black in the form of a franchise tag that secured Jeffery for the 2016 season at a cost of $14.6 million.
 
This year, no optimism, at least not yet. The Bears have not ruled out having Jeffery for a sixth NFL season, but...

...where last offseason was spent deciding upon the best scenario for retaining Jeffery, this offseason is involving scenarios in which Jeffery is not back.
 
"Our approach – starting with [player personnel director] Josh Lucas, [pro scouting director] Champ Kelly, our pro scouts – they've done a great job, and our free-agent board is stacked," Pace said on Wednesday at the outset of the NFL Scouting Combine. "There's options in free agency and in the draft, and we have to see how it'll play out. We'll know a lot more in the coming week; a little over a week from now I'll be able to answer questions a little more directly.
 
"We have plans in place for every one of these scenarios. I feel extremely prepared for this free-agency process that we're about to enter and it gives me confidence with all these different scenarios."

The Bears opted against a second franchise tag, one that would have committed the Bears to $17.5 million for a receiver who missed 11 full games over the past two seasons and portions of others with injuries in 2015. After a season that saw Jeffery total 52 catches and two touchdowns in 12 games, missing four with a suspension for a violation of the NFL's substance policies.
 
Jeffery was not worth what he thought he was last season, based on production vs. cost. While they were unwilling to let the open market factor into Jeffery's value last year, the Bears were not prepared to use the tag again, a move that would have effectively cost the Bears $32 million over two years and still had him head for free agency after 2017 with nothing to show for it.
 
"It was thought-out thoroughly, obviously," Pace said. "I think sometimes when you can't come to a common ground with a player and an agent, sometimes it's necessary to kind of test the market to determine that player's value, and that's really where we're at.
 
"He's a good player and we'll see how it plays out. But I think there are certain instances where testing the market is a necessary part of the process...We're constantly having dialogue with him and that'll continue like it has pretty much always."

Report: Patriots' Jimmy Garoppolo 'still in play' in potential trade

usatsi_9540046.jpg
USA TODAY

Report: Patriots' Jimmy Garoppolo 'still in play' in potential trade

Maybe Jimmy Garoppolo isn't off the trading block just yet.

Despite a different report earlier in the day, that the Patriots were not interested in dealing the young signal caller, the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe says a potential deal is 'still in play.'

Garoppolo, 25, is entering the final year of his contract. He's been linked as a potential trade candidate in deals with the Browns, 49ers and Bears.