15 on 6: Sitting Cutler his best protection so far

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15 on 6: Sitting Cutler his best protection so far

Friday, Oct. 8, 2010
4:40 PM

By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

Jay Cutler has been rocked 17 times already this season! Seventeen is the number of times Jay Cutler has been sacked in 4 games, or should I say 3 12, he did not make it through the fourth. How many times has he sustained a hit but still got the ball out? Jay has logged 102 pass attempts and been sacked almost a quarter of them and has been hit well over 60 percent of the time. Shutting him down this week is a smart move by the Bears if you want him to make it through the rest of the year. You should never take an opponent lightly in the NFL, but facing Carolina is a good opportunity to allow Jay to get his mind right.

How It Works

You have a baseline test in the NFL for concussions. This was the first year all rookies were given the "Impact Test" in Indianapolis at the annual NFL combine. It enables teams to now chart players trough their career. Recently, numerous former players have suffered from dementia at an early age and thus, the NFL had to react and become more proactive dealing with concussions. Jay Cutler just becomes the most recent statistic of teams not wanting to put a player at risk. At this point, risk would be an understatement when evaluating the Bear's pass protection. Although Jay has not missed a start in 5 years, he has a baseline test from Denver and most likely, the Bears followed up when Jay arrived in Chicago administering one of their own. It is a series of tests to check recallmemory. Team doctors and trainers make you recite a list of words starting with the letters A, B, C, etc...they are then able to check volume of words and differences from your initial list provided from earlier testing. Either Jay did not score well on the test or the doctors ruled him out altogether for their own self preservation. I lean towards the latter as Jay participated in practice on Wednesday. The track record on diagnosed injuries has been less than stellar from the Bears organization and should provide GM Jerry Angelo the ammunition to shake up another department this off-season. If the decision was up to Jay, he would be lining up under center against Carolina this weekend.

On To No. 2--Enter Todd Collins

Stiff neck and all, Todd Collins is better prepared to face Carolina on the road than Caleb Hanie. The Bears have the ability to dial up more plays in key situations with Todd, knowing how he will react from previous experiences on tape during his career. Caleb, through no fault of his own, would be a gamble. No one knows how he would react if things go poorly in Carolina and in particular, if things do not go well early. This is not the time to find out with a known quantity available. Todd has been there and done it. He is better equipped to manage this situation and draw from years of experience. Being named the starter late in the week, will not effect Todd's preparation, but it is imperative for Todd to create a list of pass plays he feels most comfortable executing. It becomes Martz's responsibility when to call them.

List

Base Offense 1st and 2nd down--Write down your top four play-action passes on early downs and deliver to your OC. You can call the same play, but Martz will just window dress it with motion or shifts to disguise.

3rd and medium--It is imperative Martz knows what Todd feels comfortable with early to build offensive confidence on third down. The Bears were 0-for-13 last Sunday on third down. Do not let self doubt destroy your football team. Remove it early with a quality conversion. Another four pass plays should suffice.

Todd has always been a cerebral guy, but the game plan will be reduced. Mike Martz can hold court all he wants regarding the whole playbook being in play this weekend, but its focus must change. Todd enables the Bears to run more volume of plays, but Martz is now under the gun from his fellow coaches to offer more balance. A commitment to the run game will serve as the best elixir to protect the quarterback. There are numerous play-action passes offering seven and eight man protections to complement the run game. Martz must not waver if it does not look encouraging early! The offensive line is thirsting for the commitment and enter the game knowing this is their opportunity to shine. Offensive line coach Mike Tice has already singled them out in meetings, in case they do not read the papers, to challenge them this weekend. The Bears must just manage! Manage the QB spot, manage the run game and manage a victory.

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.

Fast Break Morning Update: White Sox, Cubs both win; Bears finish draft

Fast Break Morning Update: White Sox, Cubs both win; Bears finish draft

Here are some of Saturday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Jose Abreu homers twice as White Sox beat Tigers for sixth straight win

Cubs bash three homers in come-from-behind win over Red Sox

Dwyane Wade would like clarity on Bulls' direction before making decision

View from the Moon: Rift among Bears brass? Not based on what Ryan Pace, John Fox showed

After trading Scott Darling, can the Blackhawks find another reliable backup goalie?

Trust the tape: Bears feel confident in Division II draft picks Adam Shaheen, Jordan Morgan

Dax McCarty tallies assist against former team, but Fire still lose to Red Bulls

Eddie Jackson healthy, ready to bring center fielder range to Bears' secondary

Why Scott Darling is a perfect fit for Hurricanes

Watch: This is why new Bears running back Tarik Cohen is nicknamed 'The Human Joystick'

 

View from the Moon: Rift among Bears brass? Not based on what Ryan Pace, John Fox showed

View from the Moon: Rift among Bears brass? Not based on what Ryan Pace, John Fox showed

Trying to sort through some Halas Hall draft mysteries…. well, one big one, anyway.

Now that it’s all done: Were GM Ryan Pace and the personnel staff really in phase with John Fox and the coaching staff? Because that really is the franchise-grade question and one with the broadest possible ramifications.

The gut feeling is, yes. That’s really based just on watching the two of them together Saturday during the post-draft debriefing. If there was tension, frustration or a fracture in the relationship, the two were as good at masking it as they were concealing their draft plans.

Which they could be. Maybe reading John Fox’s face is no easier than Jay Cutler’s. They wouldn’t be the first to put up a fraud façade or public face.

But regardless of any taffy pulls or disagreements that may have played out during the draft, the jokes, asides and other responses to queries suggested otherwise. It wasn’t just what they said; it was how they said it.

“How would you grade your draft?” the pair was asked.

“I’ll tell you in three years,” Pace said.

“I’m sure we’ll get some ‘input,” Fox said, laughing, for a media corps that will provide more than a little of that “input.”

This was their third draft together. Fox has worked with myriad personnel guys and draft rooms, so how has Pace changed? Gotten bossier?

“He’s been the same guy,” Fox said. “We talk about that in this building, whether that be players, coaches or personnel people. I think he has done a terrific job and he’s got great people skills. You listen, but then you have to go with your gut, too… . After three years, every year you have convictions on players and everyone kind of keeps track of that. We have been in this spot three straight years and we’ve even been in this spot with high picks. I think he’s done a terrific job.”

Beneath all of the analyses of whether Mitch Trubisky is really the franchise quarterback the Bears have sought since Jim McMahon couldn’t stay healthy 30 years ago, or whether lesser-fete’d college programs (Ashland, Kutztown, North Carolina A&T) will produced NFL-grade talent for the Bears, lurks the deeper and arguably more significant assessment of what the 2017 draft means for the futures of Pace and Fox, jointly and individually.

The vulnerabilities are obvious; a combined 9-23 record in their two Bears seasons puts a lot of jobs over a “vulnerable” trap door in an organization that has never retained a coach after three straight losing seasons – even if the last thing Chairman George McCaskey wants on his watch is a situation in such steep decline that it even continues to lose even after a regime change, as it did after three-season-losers Jim Dooley, Abe Gibron and Dave Wannstedt.

Irrespective of specific 2017 draft choices, the surest course toward cataclysm would be a divide between coach and GM, which some want to believe has begun, fueled if by nothing else but Chris Mortensen’s report Thursday that Fox only found out about the decision to pursue and make the Trubisky deal a short time before Pace made it. Mort walked back from the claim, and Pace ripped it as “so false” later on Friday.

Pace was adamant that he and Fox were in lock step on the move for a quarterback who ideally doesn’t see the field a lot this season. As a first-rounder the Bears do have him for as much as five years if they elect to pick up the option for the fifth year of his rookie contract.

Would Fox have wanted a defensive force? Probably. But he went 3-13 last season in no small part because he had to use three different quarterbacks and two of them were bad.

“I think the quarterback position was obviously a need position as well,” Fox said. “That became pretty clear as we went out in free agency and got Mike Glennon. I think you're always trying to add depth at every position.

“Unlike what some people think, quarterback is key, too. If you look back at a year ago, we went through three quarterbacks, due to injuries, so I think building depth is really important. I think Mitch is a quality, quality player. I think if you did research and we need to do that, I'm going to say that a lot of people had him ranked very high, and us no different.”

[MORE BEARS DRAFT COVERAGE: Trust the tape: Bears feel confident in Division II draft picks Adam Shaheen, Jordan Morgan]

One cynical view making some rounds is that Pace has set Fox up to fail specifically by not giving him defensive help that would translate into win-now prospects for a coach who obviously needs to. But that doesn’t quite square somehow.

Pace and the draft powers were promising Fox a real shot at something even better than a quarterback. All they needed was for Cleveland to opt for Trubisky, which was in discussion over in Ohio until not long before the draft. Then the Bears, who’d talked over scenarios with San Francisco GM John Lynch over recent weeks, would have made that trade, but for Myles Garrett.

The Bears at No. 3 had tabbed three possible options for themselves, but with every intention of trading up unless the 49ers were blown away by a trade offer the Bears couldn’t match.

“I would say there were probably two of the three that we’d be willing to go up for,” Pace said, with a sly smile but without naming Garrett.

Which makes it reasonable to conclude that Fox knew the GM would get him the projected best edge rusher in the draft, unless their projected best quarterback was there. Which is what happened.

“We knew [Trubisky], obviously, was our top quarterback,” Pace said. “At one point in time – you don’t know what to believe – but up until the last second, there was speculation that Mitch could go 1. So then there’s even talks: ‘Wow, if he goes 1, and Myles goes to 2, what are we going to do?’

“And so all these scenarios are being played out. And there’s just so many of them. And we talk them all out. But the idea of ‘If Mitch is there at 2, and it’s realistic for us to go get him,’ that was something we discussed.”

The Bears were expected to prioritize the secondary, even as high as LSU’s Jamal Adams in some first-round scenarios. They didn’t get draft help for one of the poorest takeaway secondaries in NFL history until well into the fourth round. Was Pace undercutting his defense-based head coach and a staff boasting some of the top mentors in their areas?

Really?

Pace guaranteed $20 million of Bears money to cornerbacks Prince Amukamara ($7 million) and Marcus Cooper ($8 million) and safety Quintin Demps ($5 million). To have then used a high pick for a defensive back could conceivably have had McCaskey calling over and asking just exactly how Pace figured he needed to give his coaches a viable secondary. In the final analysis, Pace’s view of upgrading the secondary was more than draft-centric.

“We added a lot in free agency, so that was the plan,” Pace said. “We signed three corners in free agency and a safety and now we just drafted a safety. Part of our free agency plan was to attack the secondary and we accomplished it there. And that kind of allowed us to draft best player available when this moment came.”

If Fox had a problem with any of that, it was not apparent Saturday night after their third draft together.