Cutler, O-Line provide pre-playoff nightmare

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Cutler, O-Line provide pre-playoff nightmare

Sunday, Jan. 2, 2010
8:30 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The offense managed just three points against a good defense but missed too many opportunities, particularly on throws by Jay Cutler. In a tight game one or two plays are the difference and the offense that made them the past couple weeks did little of that this time. The defense created chances but had a breakdown or two - too many in a game where there was no margin for error.

Quarterback D-
Cutler had one of his poorer games of the season, posting a 43.5 passer rating that was his third-worst of the year. Cutler wasted a scoring chance when he threw an interception in the third quarter, underthrowing Johnny Knox badly in a situation where anything but an underthrow was acceptable. He was sacked six times but was never in synch with the overall offense, completing 21 of 39 passes for 168 yards but taking 51 yards in sacks.

Running back B

Matt Forte breezed past 1,000 rushing yards in the first quarter with runs of 25 and 21 yards and added a 27-yard reception in the second quarter. Forte added four pass receptions in just the first half and finished with a game-high eight receptions on eight passes thrown to him. Fortes 91 rushing yards came on 15 carries for a 6.1 average. Chester Taylor had limited impact (11 yards) on his three carries.
Receivers D

Rashied Davis made something of his chances with Earl Bennett inactive, catching all four of the passes thrown to him in the first half and finishing with a career-high seven catches for 63 yards. Knox was held without a catch for the first time all season, leaving him 40 yards short of 1,000 for the year. Greg Olsen made several difficult grabs among his five catches but only Davis and Devin Hester (one) caught passes among wide receivers, who were not open often enough for Cutler to get rid of the ball with purpose.

Offensive line D

The group got Forte his 1,000 yards in the first half but struggled against an aggressive 3-4 front that blitzed and sacked Cutler six times for 51 yards in losses. Six different Packers had at least a share of a sack. The line was not able to gain any control of the line of scrimmage to the point of sustaining some offense. The Bears had 8 out of 13 possessions on which they failed to pick up a first down. LT Frank Omiyale was beaten for a blind-side sack in the second quarter but the Packers created some coverage sacks. Cutler, however, did his line no favors by not getting the ball out of his hands.

Defensive line C

Henry Melton shared a sack and provided solid pressure. Tommie Harris sack in the third quarter prevented a TD after a first-and-goal from the one and Harris added a tackle for loss and quarterback hit. But the line was credited with just two quarterback hits overall, although the Packers were limited to 2.6 yards per carry.
Linebackers B

Brian Urlacher had a half-sack in the first half and a quarterback hit. Lance Briggs was credited with nine tackles. Pisa Tinoisamoa was forced to play the full way after an injury to Nick Roach and performed well.

Secondary B

Charles Tillman intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble, the latter forced by D.J. Moore. Zackary Bowman got some playing time in the fourth quarter but was beaten for a 46-yard completion to Greg Jennings to set up a Green Bay TD. Tillman and Tim Jennings had pass deflections but Aaron Rodgers threw for 229 yards and had completions to nine different receivers.
Special teams B-

Brad Maynard put two punts out of bounds inside the Green Bay 20 and averaged 45.5 yards in difficult conditions. Robbie Gould accounted for the games first points with a 30-yard field goal. Sloppy punt coverage allowed Tramon Williams a 40-yard return to the Chicago 44 in the third quarter. Hester had punt returns of 16 and 19 yards but Danieal Manning was held to 31 total yards on two kickoff returns.

Coaching B

The Bears were ready to play in a game that meant virtually nothing beyond a tuneup by kickoff time. The defense was aggressive and disruptive and the offense produced four plays of 20-plus yards in just the first half. Execution failed in several situations and the Packers made several calls that went directly into vulnerable areas of the Bears play. But a creditable job of motivation was done in a situation where a letdown was very possible.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

On the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Chris Emma, Seth Gruen and Danny Ecker join David Kaplan to discuss the Mark Sanchez signing. Does this mean the Bears won't draft a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft? 

Later, the White Sox named Jose Quintana their Opening Day starter, but lose Carlos Rodon and Todd Frazier to injuries. 

Finally, Robin Lopez is back after serving a one-game suspension. The panel looks at the Bulls matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below. 

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

The tumult around the Bears quarterback position this offseason – signing Mike Glennon, cutting Jay Cutler, not signing Brian Hoyer, now signing Mark Sanchez – was to be expected. (Well, not all the brouhaha around Sanchez; if there has ever been more hyperventilating around the arriving backup quarterback, it’s escaping my recollections of a quarter-century on the beat.)

All of that, and a lot of the noise around Mike Glennon is really missing a larger point. A couple, really.

GM Ryan Pace established fixing the quarterback situation as a top priority, something it has been just about since Jim McMahon left, with the exception of a few Jay Cutler years. Doing that to any meaningful degree with the castoff options available in free agency or via trades wasn’t ever going to happen. What Pace has done with the quarterback situation, however, is more than a little intriguing.

The quarterback additions and subtractions, coupled with also suggest a draft plan far from locked in on a quarterback. The signings of Glennon and Sanchez don’t mean the Bears have solved their quarterback position, but it does mean the Bears have positioned themselves with the distinct option of NOT taking a quarterback – this year.

But here’s the bigger point.

Even with the optimum quarterback solution unavailable – Pace arguably did go best-available in his and the coaches’ minds with Glennon and Sanchez, all derision aside – Pace’s goal needs to be building a team that can reach a high playoff level regardless of quarterback.

Meaning: defense. And while the 2017 free agent and draft classes did not offer must-have quarterbacks in most evaluations, there are those elite-level defensive talents, and every indication is that the Bears will look there, in the draft, and should be. It had that feeling when the Bears, with ample, money to spend, backed away from day one free-agency runs at a couple of pricey defensive backs. The Bears simply think they can do better for less in the draft.

A perspective: With a defense at its levels during the Brian Urlacher era, the Bears could reach the NFC championship game with what they have at quarterback now. They did, twice, with Rex Grossman and with Cutler. Sanchez got to AFC championship games in each of his first two seasons. The Bears reached a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as their quarterback. They went 13-3 in 2001 with a solid-but-unspectacular Jim Miller as their quarterback. They reached the 2005 playoffs with Kyle Orton as their starter most of that year, and should have been in the 2008 playoffs with him as well. The Bears reached the NFC championship game in 2010 with Cutler.

There is a common denominator in all of these situations, and it is within Pace’s grasp, and that was an elite defense. Rex Ryan had one with the Jets and Sanchez, Grossman and Orton and Cutler had theirs with Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Mike Brown, Tommie Harris, Charles Tillman, etc.

Forget the quarterback situation for now. Nothing anyone, including Pace, can really do anything about it (other than land possibly Deshaun Watson, based on their turnout at his Pro Day).

But if Pace and his personnel staff do this right, they can lay in the foundation for something elite on defense that will transcend the quarterback, or at least allow the Bears to play more than 16 games in a season even if they do not have a great quarterback. With the Urlacher core defense, the Bears went to postseasons with four different quarterbacks.

The prime directive now for Ryan Pace is to create precisely that model again.