Saturday, November 28th
I am blessed to work for not only Comcast SportsNet Chicago, but also Sirius Satellite Radio during the week. CSN offers me the opportunity to keep my head in the game as a beloved Bears fan while Sirius gives me the opportunity to talk to some of the top coaches, players, and evaluators of talent around the NFL. I had some interesting conversations this week diagnosing the play of Bears starting QB, Jay Cutler.
Many top analysts are comparing Jay Cutler to Jeff George. You have to remember Jeff George! He is the guy still screaming to get back in the NFL and claims to be coachable. The same Jeff George who transferred in college from Purdue, committed to Miami until then head coach Jimmie Johnson would not guarantee him a starting job, then ended up at University of Illinois. Jeff then left college early with a year of eligibility remaining to become the 1st overall pick of the Colts in the 1990 draft. After 4 yrs of mediocre performance dog cussed his hometown and demanded a trade. His wishes were granted and he was traded to the Atlanta Falcons. Jeff proceeded to dog cuss head coach June Jones of the Atlanta Falcons on National TV, then moved on to the Raiders where he was completely uncoachable ( I know, John Gruden coached him and when I left the Bears, I was in Tampa with Jon Gruden. The conversation did come up!) He finally finished up with a stint with the Redskins after a good run with the Vikings where he lit it it up with all kinds of talent around him. When I say he finally finished with the Redskins would be the final analysis. Marty Shottenheimer was the coach. He even clashed with him. I work with Marty at Sirius. He is legendary in NFL coaching circles. He has over 200 NFL victories as an NFL head coach and is the only coach with those numbers not to have a Superbowl victory to show for it. The analysts could not be more off the mark!
Jay Cutler is not Jeff George just because he talked his way out of Denver and has a big arm. If that is the case, what the hell is Brett Farve? Jay has to be coached! The Bears acquired a player who loves football and is extremely talented. If offensive coordinator, Ron Turner, and QB coach, Pep Hamilton, miss out on this opportunity, due to their passiveness to "coach up" a player who could offer the Bears greatness, then they should be relieved of their duties. This is where the rubber meets the road for the Bears. Evaluations of this trio come to a head against the Vikings on the road this weekend. It is only fitting to face the Vikes where Jeff George had success as a pro. Unless, you consider George's brief stint as a Bear as earth shattering.
Back in 1992 the Dallas Cowboys were in draft deliberations around the No. 17 spot of the first round, looking for upgrades on defense. A scout made a suggestion that they target Ohio State defensive end Alonzo Spellman, one of the most physically imposing (6-4, 280 pounds) players and best athletes in that draft.
Coach Jimmy Johnson responded, "Tell me about the production."
Came back the answer: Three years at OSU, nine total sacks.
"Oh, please!" Johnson scoffed, calling in cornerback Kevin Smith and leaving Spellman to the Bears at No. 22. Spellman had several respectable seasons but never more than 8.5 sacks in nine NFL seasons.
As investment advisers counsel, past performance is not necessarily a predictor of future results. But past performance can be, and an axiom in NFL personnel rooms is, look at the film.
CSNChicago.com is doing that as the NFL Scouting Combine approaches (Feb. 29) along with free agency and the start of the league year and its trading window. It becomes an increasingly relevant exercise to look at the intricacies behind some of the key players and positions the Bears will be addressing through the upcoming weeks. CSNChicago.com previously looked at the need to evaluate quarterbacks from the intangible standpoints first, then the measurables.
Using Jay Cutler as an object lesson for how immense physical skills have questionable correlations to immense NFL performance, a look at one aspect of quarterback "film" warrants more attention than the measurables that command a disproportionate share of attention and scrutiny.
It has been Cutler's single biggest issue through his eight Bears seasons, was a reason why coaches once wanted to stay with Josh McCown instead of returning to Cutler following a Cutler injury absence, and why Brian Hoyer played his way into prominence in the discussion of 2017 Bears plans. Adam Gase went from offensive coordinator to hottest head-coach prospect in no small measure because he managed Cutler into better ball security.
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But the point here is less Cutler – expected to be traded or released within the near future – than the level of ball security in the available options beyond Hoyer.
So, look at the film:
The widespread drooling over a possible trade with New England for Jimmy Garoppolo. The best thing in Garoppolo's favor is that he has been a Patriots backup to Tom Brady. Garoppolo, drawing distant comparisons to a Matt Flynn, Matt Cassel and other past experience-lite quarterback options, has thrown 94 NFL passes without an interception, which is impressive until matched against Hoyer's 200 last season without an interception, for comparison purposes.
But evaluating Garoppolo against the coming chief draft competition – DeShone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson – suggests comparing apples to apples, meaning college ball security, since that's all the kids have to this point.
Garoppolo vaulted up draft boards (to New England's second round) on the strength of an Eastern Illinois senior season with 53 touchdown passes vs. nine interceptions, against chiefly FCS opposition. But in his first three seasons Garoppolo threw for 65 touchdowns and was intercepted 42 times.
Kizer? In his two Notre Dame seasons, 47 touchdowns, 19 interceptions.
Trubisky? 30 touchdowns last season, six interceptions. Including his two years as a North Carolina backup, 41 touchdowns, 10 interceptions.
Watson? 90 touchdowns, 32 interceptions in three Clemson seasons, the last two as Tigers starter.
Garoppolo put in four college seasons, but has a little of the Trubisky/Flynn/Cassel, one-year-wonder feel.
Kizer and Watson have more starting seasons, but the Watson intangible of getting his team to two national-championship games speaks to another level of "intangible."
GM Ryan Pace will incorporate heavy input from coach John Fox and coordinator Dowell Loggains. Coaches love ball security. Garoppolo? Watson? Trubisky? Kizer?
Look at the film.
In this edition of the BearsTalk podcast, CSN's Chris Boden, Sun-Times Bears beat writer Patrick Finley, and CSNChicago.com's Scott Krinch discuss the Bears' approach to the two-week window opening to franchise-tag Alshon Jeffery again, the risk/reward in trading for Jimmy Garoppolo or drafting a QB (and how high to draft one), Scott's 2.0 mock draft, plus the workers' compensation controversy the team found itself in last week and the club's decision to raise ticket prices.
Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: