15 on 6: Ugliest offensive performance ever

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15 on 6: Ugliest offensive performance ever

Monday, Oct. 4, 2010
8:23 PM

By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

If Sunday night's game was the precursor for an early Halloween scare, the Bears succeeded!

I could not even believe what I was witnessing, then asked to comment on, as a former player, for Bears Postgame Live. The outcome of this debacle was the total opposite of what I anticipated. The Bears needed to be like the Jets who went into Buffalo and gave the Bills exactly what they expected - a beat Down!

The Giants were a team at the crossroads and waiting for their own demons to take hold all the way up to halftime. For the Bears to even jog to the locker room down 3-0 after 30 minutes was a miracle. This is after giving up nine sacks, a sack fumble, an interception, three offensive line changes and a total output of only 22 yards offensively.

It truly was the ugliest offensive performance I have ever witnessed from an NFL team.

If the Bears were given a rock for Halloween, (like good ole Charlie Brown), for that performance it would be generous. But before we get ahead of ourselves and fire everyone for a Halloween day massacre, let's understand why the Bears' play was so horrendous and attempt to put it into perspective.

Lost Quarter

From the information I have gathered, Jay Cutler went ghostly at the beginning of the second quarter. Mike Martz calls a 258 with whatever route combination tagged at the time. A 258 is a "QB Dash" play - a good play call at the time - allowing you to change the launch point for a QB when pass protection is an issue.

As a QB, you show a straight drop back of five steps from underneath the center, then dash to the right enabling offensive lineman to "pin in" pass rushers who are "teeing off." The problem is, you have to secure the backside cut off block, or a defensive end (Osi Umenyura) has a 20-yard sprint targeting your QB dead to rights. Greg Olsen amazingly tries a "cut block", when he should just face up. It truly is amazing that Jay Cutler actually got up after such a vicious hit, but he started walking to the wrong sideline. Clearly, he was not sound mentally and anyone who took that hit would have been out of sorts.

It is never a fun moment to be in that sate! I have experienced it, and it truly becomes a one-play-at-a-time senario, where you are trying to pull yourself together.

As the quarter progressed, even former NFL wide receiver Chris Collinsworth noted on a play, "How does Jay not see Earl Bennett on the Shallow cross?" I personally knew something was amiss when Jay missed a nickel blitz from an "empty set" (spread out, no backs), and took another vicious hit from cornerback Aaron Ross. Not recognizingmissing that blitz for Jay would be like Bears fans missing a Bears game - it does not happen! It is football 101, they are bringing one more than you have to block!

The second quarter was now lost, in terms of execution, and the coaches had to figure out if Jay can go in the third. In this house of horrors is where I have a huge problem, outside of the Offensive line protection issues.

Normally, players on the field sense when a player has been "dinged." Mike Martz and the offensive coaches had to have sensed it as well with how Jay was readingexecuting plays. All this withstanding; the blown blocking assignments, missed open receivers, lack of running game and the injured starting QB - the storm could have been weathered again by the Bears.

Instead, much like the confusion on the field, the Bears go in at the half with doctors evaluating Jay and no one prepping the offense - Todd Collins or Caleb Hanie for the inevitable. Collins said in his post game presser, "I did not know I was playing until coming out of the tunnel for the second half."

That is unacceptable and poor preparation by the Bears coaching staff!

From Now On...

Bears QB's better be equipped to manipulate this offense. After a three-game warning, Jay should have known he cannot trust his protection early. As a QB, you have to learn to negotiate it!

The play called in the huddle may have primaries, but you better know your dump-offs on every play. Offensively, you must log more snaps when things are "harry." It is the only way you find any rhythm. The "dump off," may not be a big gain, but they may miss a tackle or make a mistake, and you continue to make them line up to diagnose a weakness and find a spark.

Accountability

If we are holding players accountable for performance, the same goes for coaches. That was a horrific game plan by Martz. Mike had his hands full with shuffling offensive lineman, but going in, this game begged for the running game to be tapped. Play action would have been set up and the Bears could have been off to the races at 4-0.

It will be interesting next week in Carolina to see what the Bears unveil. Martz will be making the trip to the principal's office and we'll see if he makes the necessary adjustments.

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.

Bears training camp preview: Three burning questions for the offensive line

Bears training camp preview: Three burning questions for the offensive line

With training camp starting next week, CSN Chicago’s Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz are looking at three burning questions for each of the Bears’ position groups heading into Bourbonnais. Friday's unit: the offensive line. 

1. Will Kyle Long and Josh Sitton flip spots, and will it be effective?

One of the more intriguing storylines to come out of the Bears’ offseason program was the possibility of a Kyle Long-Josh Sitton guard swap, with Long moving from right to left and Sitton to left to right. The prevailing wisdom is that Long’s athleticism would be better suited for the pulls needed at left guard, while Sitton has made Pro Bowls at both positions. But is it prudent for the Bears to make this switch with Long still recovering from November ankle surgery and some nasty complications that came after it? He’s shown he’s skilled enough to already make one position switch on the offensive line (from right tackle to right guard), so there’s no reason to doubt he couldn’t handle another so long as he’s healthy. We’ll see where he is next week. 

“You want flexibility,” coach John Fox said. “You don’t want as much flexibility as we had to use a year ago because we had to play so many guys due to injury. But we’re messing around with (Sitton) and Kyle both playing opposite sides, whether one’s on the left, one’s on the right. We’ll get those looks in camp, we got plenty of time.”

2. Can Charles Leno Jr. capitalize on a contract year?

Leno has been a pleasant surprise given the low expectations usually set for seventh-round picks. He started every game in 2016, checking off an important box for John Fox — reliability. Whether Leno can be more than a reliable player at left tackle, though, remains to be seen (if the Bears thought he were, wouldn’t they have signed him to an extension by now?). He has one more training camp and 16 games to prove he’s worthy of a deal to be the Bears (or someone else’s) left tackle of the future. Otherwise, the Bears may look to a 2018 draft class rich in tackles led by Texas’ Connor Williams and Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey. 

“I know if I take care of my business out here, everything else will take care of itself,” Leno said. 

3. Will Hroniss Grasu survive the roster crunch?

A year ago, Grasu was coming off a promising rookie season and was in line to be the Bears’ starting center. But the Oregon product tore his ACL in August, and Cody Whitehair thrived after a last-minute move from guard to center. If the Bears keep eight offensive lineman this year, Grasu could be squeezed out: Leno, Long, Whitehair, Sitton and Bobby Massie are the likely starters, with Eric Kush and Tom Compton filling reserve roles. That leaves one spot, either for fifth-round guard Jordan Morgan or Grasu. The Bears could try to stash Morgan, who played his college ball at Division-II Kutztown, on the practice squad and keep Grasu. But Grasu doesn’t have flexibility to play another position besides center, which could hurt his case. 

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for tight ends

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for tight ends

With training camp starting next week, CSN Chicago’s Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz are looking at three burning questions for each of the Bears’ position groups heading into Bourbonnais. Thursday's unit: the tight ends.

1. Will Zach Miller make the 53-man roster?

Miller didn’t play a single down from 2012-14, and has missed seven games in two seasons with the Bears, but he’s been productive when on the field: 110 targets, 81 receptions, 925 yards and nine touchdowns. But the Bears signed Dion Sims to an $18 million contract and then drafted Adam Shaheen in the second round of the draft, moves that seemingly put Miller in a precarious position heading into Bourbonnais. Not helping Miller’s case is the Lisfranc fracture he suffered last November, which kept him sidelined through OTAs and veteran minicamp in May and June. He’d be a valuable player for the Bears to keep around, but at the same time, training camp could be a perfect storm for Miller to be among the cuts.

“They’re going to cutting it close for training camp,” coach John Fox said of Miller (and Danny Trevathan) in June. “But right now they’re right on target and that’s kind of what we expected all offseason.”

2. What can we expect from Adam Shaheen?

Shaheen was among the bright spots during May and June, hardly looking like someone who played his college ball at Division II Ashland while going against NFL defenders. But those were just shorts-and-helmets practices without any contact, so it’d be premature to project anything about Shaheen off of them. The real test for Shaheen will be when he puts the pads on in Bourbonnais and gets his first experience with the physicality of the NFL after a few years of being head and shoulders — literally — above his competition in college. It’s unlikely Shaheen will live up to his “Baby Gronk” hype in Year 1, but if he handles training camp well, he could be a valuable red zone asset for Mike Glennon as a rookie. 

“You don’t know until you put the pads on,” Shaheen said. “That’s what I’m excited for.”

3. How productive can this unit be?

Between Sims — who had a career high four touchdowns last year with the Miami Dolphins — and Shaheen, the Bears have two new, big targets for an offense that tied for 24th in the NFL with 19 passing touchdowns a year ago. If Miller sticks around, this group would have enviable depth. But even if he doesn’t, the Bears liked what they saw from Brown last year (16 receptions, 124 yards, 1 TD in six games). There are fewer questions about the tight ends heading into training camp than the receivers, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Glennon leans on this unit, especially early in the season.