Chicago Bears

15 on 6: New Coaching Options for 2010 Bears

72984.jpg

15 on 6: New Coaching Options for 2010 Bears

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.

Can Markus Wheaton fix what ails the Bears’ offense?

Can Markus Wheaton fix what ails the Bears’ offense?

Markus Wheaton was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and wasn’t on the Bears’ injury report Thursday, signaling that the 5-foot-11, 189 pound speedster will make his Bears debut Sunday against his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s not the solution for the Bears’ offense, but he could be part of it. 

For an offense that’s woefully lacked someone who can reliably stretch the field, Wheaton can at least provide the threat of going deep. Two years ago, while with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wheaton averaged 17 yards per reception. Mike Glennon’s longest completion this year went for 22 yards. 

“It definitely adds another dimension,” Glennon said. “It’ll be great having Markus back.”

But Wheaton only played in three games last season (four catches, 51 yards) and, at his best, averaged 48 catches, 696 yards and four touchdowns a year from 2014-2015. Is it fair to expect Wheaton to be a big part of the Bears' offensive solution given he hasn't played much recently, and was limited to only a handful of reps in training camp and preseason practices due to a pair of freak ailments?

Maybe not, but with the Bears 0-2, he's the best hope they have at a skill position. 

Wheaton needed an emergency appendectomy the first weekend the Bears were in Bourbonnais — “I thought I had to poop,” Wheaton said, maybe providing too much information, before realizing the excruiating pain in which he was in was something worse. Shortly after returning to the practice fields at Olivet Nazarene University, Wheaton fractured his pinkie finger in gruesome fashion (he said the bone was sticking out) when he was awkwardly grabbed while trying to catch a pass. 

That Wheaton broke a finger wasn’t only significant for his ability to catch passes. Consider what his former quarterback — Ben Roethlisberger — had to say about what makes Wheaton an effective deep threat:

“He’s got a very good ability of using his hands,” Roethlisberger said. “When you’re trying to stretch the field, you’ve gotta have some little techniques to help you get open because DBs can run as much as receivers can. So you gotta be able to use your hands to swim, kinda, get some swiping, get the hands off, I thought that he really had some good technique when it came to the deep ball and getting away from DBs.”

Roethlisberger and Wheaton shared a good rapport in Pittsburgh, with the quarterback clearly communicating to the receiver what he expected timing-wise in his routes. It’s been a challenge to develop something similar with Glennon given the lack of practice time, but Wheaton said putting in extra work after practice has helped. 

If Wheaton and Glennon can get on the same page, perhaps that can lead to at least some deep ball attempts. The Bears have to find a way to prevent opposing defenses from stacking the box and focusing on stopping Jordan Howard, who only has 59 yards on 22 carries this year. 

“We're going to face overpopulated boxes, we know that,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “There's going to be seven, eight guys in the box every time and we have to execute better and it comes down to that.”

According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, only three of Glennon’s 85 pass attempts have traveled 20 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The only completion of those was Sunday’s garbage-time touchdown to Deonte Thompson, which was caught near the back of the end zone. 

The threat of Wheaton going deep won’t be enough, though. Glennon still has prove he can complete those deep balls — the last time he completed a pass of 25 or more yards was on Nov. 2, 2014 (though he’s only attempted 96 passes since that date). 

But Wheaton feels ready to go and is confident he can do his job — which, in turn, could, in a best-case scenario, help his other 10 teammates on offense do their jobs, too. 

“It’s been a long time coming,” Wheaton said. “I’m excited and hopefully this is the week.”

Kris Bryant is all aboard the Mitch Trubisky bandwagon

kris_bryant_mitch_trubisky_slide_photo.jpg
AP

Kris Bryant is all aboard the Mitch Trubisky bandwagon

Count Kris Bryant among the Chicagoans who are calling for Mitch Trubisky to start at quarterback for the Bears.

OK, that may be a bit extreme as Bryant simply said he would supporting giving Trubisky a "shot", but still:

After a rough game for incumbent starting QB Mike Glennon last week, most of Chicago has been clamoring for the No. 2 overall pick to get some snaps under center.

Why wouldn't the crown prince of Chicago baseball get in on the noise?