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.

Wrapping up Bears-Chiefs: Not all bad, so why not find some good?

Wrapping up Bears-Chiefs: Not all bad, so why not find some good?

Bears coach John Fox declared in the wake of Saturday’s 23-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs that what transpired hadn’t been all bad. And that’s true; good wins don’t usually look as good in the film room afterwards, and bad losses don’t automatically show up all dark, either.

And so it is after preseason game No. 3 that the Bears in fact did have some good along with some bad in what was the worst performance of the preseason, if only because so much of it involved the No. 1 units, and they’re supposed to be better than that.

Since so much seemed to be (and actually was) bad on Saturday night, the contrarian approach is invoked here: Let’s start with the good.

Good: The Bears faced Kansas City (which also was missing a handful of key starters) without Bryce Callahan, Leonard Floyd, Kyle Fuller, Kyle Long, Pernell McPhee, Zach Miller and Eddie Royal. Tracy Porter left with a concussion. They expect to have some if not all of those starters and sub-starters back by Week 1.

Bad: Miller, Porter, Royal and McPhee have varying degrees of injury histories, McPhee the least of the group but had never been put in the position of holding up as a full-time starter before last season. The chances of the Bears having all their key players for full seasons are slim.

Good: Jay Cutler has thrown 31 passes this preseason. None of them have been intercepted. In what proved to be a foreshadowing of a ball-security breakthrough for the historically turnover-prone quarterback, Cutler threw zero interceptions in 33 attempts last preseason. In the regular season Cutler had two games of 31 attempts and another of 33 with zero interceptions, plus pick-free games of 24, 27 and 45 attempts.

Preseason and training camp stats mean nothing; preseason and camp performances often do.

[RELATED: Bears defense can't pick up all the pieces from a broken offense]

Bad: Kevin White has shown less than nothing through preseason, catching a total of three passes and dropping an equal number in what is his de facto rookie season. He has run imprecise routes and looked a seventh-round draft pick, not a seventh-overall one. Despite his apparent explosiveness, no Bear is averaging less than White’s 4 yards per reception.

Good: Josh Bellamy and Cameron Meredith have had next-step preseasons, a matter of some potential significance given the health concerns with Eddie Royal and production concerns with White. No Bear has caught more than Bellamy’s 10 passes, and no Bear with more than two catches has averaged more than Meredith’s 16 yards per catch.

Bad: The Bears need a road win at Cleveland next Thursday to avoid the fifth winless preseason in franchise history.

Good: Of the previous four no-win warmup slates, the Bears finished 9-5 in 1962 and 11-5 and in the NFC Championship in 2010. The 1998 season, Dave Wannstedt’s last, wound up 4-12 but 1978 at least was 7-9.

Five of the last six times the Bears lost the “all-important third preseason game,” the Bears finished 8-8 or better.

Bad: (put in the Kansas City game tape)

Bears cut 10 players, trim roster to 80

Bears cut 10 players, trim roster to 80

The Bears have until Tuesday to move their roster down to 75, and they began Sunday by cutting 10 players.

The following players were waived: DL Keith Browner, WR Kieran Duncan, WR Derek Keaton, OL John Kling, RB Senorise Perry, WR Darrin Peterson, DB Joel Ross, TE Gannon Sinclair, OL Martin Wallace, FB Darrell Young

The Bears' roster currently sits at 80 players. After getting the roster down to 75 on Tuesday, the team will then cut down to 53 for the start of the regular season.

The Bears open their regular season on Sept. 4 in Houston against the Texans.

For the Bears, defense can’t pick up all the pieces from broken offense

For the Bears, defense can’t pick up all the pieces from broken offense

The current state of affairs for the 2016 Bears is seriously concerning when, after adding multiple starting players and investing high draft choices, the best that can be said about the Bears defense is that it isn’t as bad as the Bears offense.

A unit predicted to contend for a spot among the NFL’s top 10 this year was pushed around for 378 yards and 23 points in a 23-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. To push all of it off onto the fact that it was a preseason game won’t work, if only because the No. 1 defense allowed 239 of those yards and 20 of those points in the first half.

One mitigating fact is that the Bears offense hit a new preseason low and was coming back off the field before most members of the defense had had time to look at photos and to hydrate. Five of the Bears’ first seven possessions lasted less than 1 minute 30 seconds. Defensive players usually had time to get water or get with their coaches; not both.

And the defense did stiffen in the red zone, forcing the Chiefs twice to settle for field goals with the ball inside the Chicago 10 and a third time at the 23. And players at least bristled at the suggestion that the Bears are soft. “I take that personally,” said safety Harold Jones-Quartey. "I have never heard that word… . The first time I’ve ever heard anybody call us ‘soft’ is [now].”

Coach John Fox found some good in “the way our defense improved. We got a couple turnovers down in the lower-red area.”

[SHOP: Get your Bears gear here]

But those were scant positives in a game that saw Kansas City put together drives of 50 yards or longer five of the first six times it had the football, and those were against the supposed front liners.

The Chiefs drove 53 and 62 yards on their first two possessions, which included conversions of third-and-5 and third-and-14, part of the Chiefs converting six of 10 third downs in the first half. (“Obviously our third-and-long defense wasn’t real sufficient,” Fox allowed.)

Kansas City piled up 106 yards in the first quarter and what defensive “stops” there were might just as easily be credited to Kansas City execution as Bears playmaking. The Chiefs arguably had their initial drive stopped as much by tailback Spencer Ware colliding with blocking back Darrin Reaves on a third-and-short (2) for no gain. A fourth long drive of the half ended only when the Chiefs had a Bears blitz blocked, only to have Smith miss wide open wideout Albert Wilson inside the Chicago 10.

Special teams did the defense few favors. Kansas City punt returns of 18 and 15 yards put the ball at the KC 36 and the 50. The Bears did well to leave those possessions giving up only 3 points.

The game, in which starters and first-alternates play the longest of the preseason, had its points of player evaluation. Rookie cornerback Deiondre’ Hall, whose preseason has been marked by impact plays (not all of them good, of course), did generate another in the third quarter with an interception that thwarted a Kansas City scoring drive deep in the Chicago end. This was, however, after he had lost the ball and the receiver on a 58-yard completion the previous Chiefs possession.

And rookie defensive end Jonathan Bullard, after missing practice last week to attend to family matters, collected two quarterback hits, a sack and two tackles for loss among his three solo stops, according to initial game stats.

But rookie linebacker Leonard Floyd, who has missed practice time with three different health issues since the start of training camp, was limited in practice this week with a hamstring strain, and missed an important opportunity for much-needed work against unfamiliar competition.

“We got a chance to look at some young guys and make evaluations,” Fox said, “and that’s what preseason’s for.”