Chicago Bears

15 on 6: Secrets for Jay to achieve true greatness

318733.jpg

15 on 6: Secrets for Jay to achieve true greatness

Friday, Nov. 19, 2010
1:30 AM

By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

It was the Bears first shutout in more than 60 games. Julius Peppers was exceptional with three sacks on the night and overall the defense was fantastic yet again. Remember, only four days ago they corralled the NFL's best running back, Adrian Peterson, for only 51 yards. For an encore, they hold the Dolphins to only 39 yards on the ground.

Lovie talked in the postgame presser about making a team one dimensional. What is impressive is The defense is shutting down both phases as they have only allowed six touchdown passes all year. If this trend continues, we will be talking about a defense that is better than that of 2006. The Bears were ranked as the No. 4 defense in the NFL going into Thursday's game, and their domination will only push them up in the ranks.

Sure, the Bears won in convincing fashion but let's re-evaluate the defense again after their matchup against the Mike Vick's Philedelphia Eagles - easily the NFL's hottest offense right now.

To Truly be great...

Jay Cutler has to cut down the three reckless decisions he makes in seemingly every game. He only threw one interception on the night, but their could have been two more.

He got away with it again, but it will prove costly for the Bears chances to go far in postseason play. One poor decision can cost you a game in the NFL, Just ask Peyton Manning after his interception to Tracy Porter of the New Orleans Saints in last years Super Bowl.

Was that a game changing pick?

Mesh points

The commitment to the run game has been awesome the last three weeks. Offensively, the Bears have 109 attempts over this span, which is over 30 attempts a game.

The playaction pass game has really benefited. The best part for me watching the game were the fakes, because in order to have success in playaction, it has to look exactly like the run play to create that indecision. Jay and the running backs were great at it Thursday night.

At one point in the fourth quarter, DE Kendall Langford tackled Matt Forte on a stretch play thinking he had the ball, but Jay was already bootlegging five yards out the back end before Kendall realized he'd been had.

This type of discipline in selling the plays could prove to be essential in opening up larger passing lanes for Jay, which ultimately may minimize two or three of his dangerous throws.

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.

Marcus Cooper, Bears move on from viral mistake: ‘We’re not firing him’

Marcus Cooper, Bears move on from viral mistake: ‘We’re not firing him’

Marcus Cooper’s viral mistake on Sunday was so blatantly embarrassing, did special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers even have to say anything to the Bears cornerback on the sideline after it?

“Sure,” Rodgers said. “Score."

That'll do from a brevity standpoint. Continued Rodgers: "I mean, there's not much to add. He knows he made a mistake and he obviously knows the rules.”

The Bears aren’t dwelling on what Cooper did at the end of the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers, partly because it didn’t cost them a win. It very well could’ve, though, and is one of those things that never should’ve happened, to say the least. 

“With a loss, maybe it’d be a lot worse,” Cooper said. “But (I need to) just finish the play and make sure Thursday we come out and play (well).”

Cooper, for what it’s worth, responded well in the second half with a few pass-break ups. Even with Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara playing well, the Bears didn’t consider benching Cooper — or, drastically, eating $8 million in guaranteed money to cut him — after his gaffe. 

“I mean, we’re not firing him,” coach John Fox said. “He’s too much a part of our team.”

How the Bears' receivers helped beat Pittsburgh while only catching one pass

How the Bears' receivers helped beat Pittsburgh while only catching one pass

Mike Glennon didn’t complete a pass to a wide receiver until he found Deonte Thompson for a nine-yard gain with just under six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter on Sunday. That was the only of Glennon's 15 completions that went to a wide receiver in a 23-17 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

But the Bears’ receivers weren’t necessarily invisible on Sunday, frequently showing up on tape delivering solid blocks that helped spring second-level gains by running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. Most notably, Deonte Thompson was key in making a path for Howard to score his game-ending touchdown in overtime. 

“We got a rule in our room, make sure your guy doesn't make the tackle,” Thompson said. “… We take pride in it. Our coaches make sure we take pride in blocking. We just go what we gotta do to win. Whatever the job description is, we do.”

This isn’t to say that everything is fine with the Bears’ receivers because they can block. Their primary jobs are to get open and catch the football, and this unit hasn’t done enough of that through three games. In total, Bears receivers are averaging about 14 targets, nine receptions per game and 98 yards per game. Since the beginning of the 2016 season, 26 times has an individual wide receiver had at least 14 targets, nine receptions and 98 yards in a game (including Cameron Meredith last October). 

And being a productive receiver doesn’t have to mean that player isn’t a good blocker. SB Nation listed familiar names as its best blocking receivers: Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans, Los Angeles’ Robert Woods, Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald, Miami’s Jarvis Landry and New York’s Brandon Marshall. 

But for the Bears, if Sunday’s offensive plan — for a game in which the team was never losing — is what future wins could look like, this receiver unit will be asked to do quite a bit of blocking. 

“We haven’t won as much as we want to around here, and when you see that (blocking effort), you see these guys are fully invested and they care, and they care about the guy next to him,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said, “and not about their own individual stats because it would’ve been real easy to sit on the sideline and pout and say hey, I’m not getting the ball — like, one receiver caught a ball in the whole game out of 22 passes, 15 completions, one guy catches a ball. But you know what, they’re a huge part of those wins.”

Howard had seven carries of five or more yards that went toward the sideline, while Cohen had two explosive gains into the second level and beyond. Runs like those are where blocking from guys like Thompson, Bellamy, Kendall Wright and Marcus Wheaton are important. 

“Those are the blocks that spring us to the next level,” Cohen said. “Without the receiver blocks, there would be a lot of 10-yard gains, 9-yard gains, but the bigger gains are the receivers blocking down field.”

The Bears still need more out of their receivers, but their blocking success on Sunday was a contributing factor to beating one of the better teams in the AFC. And it didn’t go unnoticed inside Halas Hall, especially the block Thompson threw to end the game. 

“They know who we have in the backfield, they know who we’ve got up front,” offensive lineman Kyle Long said. “And they know that if we want to have success at an elite level running the ball they need to do their part too and that’s just what he was doing. He was doing his job.”