It takes a village to improve Bears' passing offense

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It takes a village to improve Bears' passing offense

Not everything is as simple as it seems sometimes. And sometimes the reasons for a problem are so obvious as to be overlooked.

Take the Bears passing offense, for instance.

Brandon Marshall has been targeted 175 times this season by Jay Cutler. All other Bears wideouts have had a total of 129.

The numbers are nothing short of warped. But Marshall also has been on the field for more than twice the number of snaps as any other Bears receiver. His 927 dwarf the 401 played by next-closest Earl Bennett, followed by Alshon Jeffery (391) and Devin Hester (366). Marshall and Eric Weems are the only Bears wide receivers to be active for all 15 games to date.

Cutler offered a dismissive Dont know to a question last Wednesday as to why other Bears receivers have not been more involved in the passing game. Best guess is that Cutler does know.

Jason Campbell started one game this season, in San Francisco. It was one of the few times all season that the Bears have had a full complement of receivers. Perhaps not surprisingly, Hester, Jeffery, Marshall and Matt Forte were each targeted four times, and Bennett and Kellen Davis each twice.

The result wasnt necessarily any better than when Cutler has been throwing 43.4 percent (175 of 403) of his passes to Marshall. But since the same game-planning was in place, the results suggest pretty strongly where the preponderance of Marshall targets are coming from and it doesnt appear to have been Mike Tice.

Citing the number of drops by Bears receivers as a key reason why Jay Cutler is not a more effective quarterback is convenient. But is it accurate?

Bears receivers have been guilty of 33 drops this season, according to the stats analysts at ProFootballFocus.com. By contrast, Denver receivers have dropped 39 of Peyton Mannings throws. Aaron Rodgers should have 42 more completions based on his receivers drops. And while Tom Brady has the Patriots rolling into the postseason with his passing, he has done it with receivers dropping 43 of his passes.

Aah, but heres the rest of the story:

Rodgers has thrown nearly one-third more passes (522) than Cutler (403). Manning has thrown 554 passes. And Brady has thrown nearly 50 percent more passes than Cutler: 600. Cutlers receivers have dropped a higher percentage of his passes than those of top quarterbacks.

But wait, theres more.

Something that virtually all bad teams have in common is a quarterback who throws interceptions. Indeed, the dropped passes factor less into Jay Cutlers mediocre passer rating (80.2) than his own follies of 14 interceptions, which count heavily in passer-rating calculations.

Manning has thrown an uncharacteristic 11 but is completing 68.1 percent of his passes; not many balls hit the ground, right or wrong. And Brady and Rodgers have thrown just eight each.

Cutlers interception rate of 3.5 percent places him in very suspect, dubious company, better than just 5-10 Tennessees Jake Locker (3.7); 6-9 New York Jet Mark Sanchez (4.1); and 2-13 Kansas Citys Matt Cassel (4.3).

Others with interceptions above 3.0: Brandon Weeden of 5-10 Cleveland; Josh Freeman of 6-9 Tampa Bay; Ryan Fitzpatrick of 5-10 Buffalo.

The only quarterback with an interception percentage higher than 3.0 and whose team is winning is Andy Dalton, whose 9-6 Cincinnati Bengals are tied for allowing the third-fewest points in the AFC.

Bears sign veteran wide receiver Victor Cruz to one-year deal

Bears sign veteran wide receiver Victor Cruz to one-year deal

The Bears added some veteran depth to their wide receiver corps on Thursday.

Former New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz announced on Instagram that he's signing with the Bears.

The Giants will forever be family. But for now, Bear down!!! 🐻⬇️

A post shared by Victor Cruz (@teamvic) on

Cruz visited Halas Hall early last week and announced on his radio show earlier Thursday that he had narrowed down his choices to the Bears and Baltimore Ravens.

Cruz, 30, missed the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but bounced back to play in 15 games with the Giants in 2016. He had 39 receptions for 586 yards and a touchdown.

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Cruz has appeared in 67 career NFL games and has accumulated 303 receptions for 4,549 yards and 25 touchdowns. Cruz earned Pro Bowl honors in 2012 and second-Team All-Pro honors in 2011.

Cruz helped the Giants capture the Lombardi Trophy over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. During the 2011 playoffs, he had 21 receptions for 269 yards and a touchdown.

Cruz joins a crowded wide receiver group which includes Cameron Meredith, Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, Josh Bellamy, Deonte Thompson, Daniel Braverman, Titus Davis, Tanner Gentry and his former Giants teammate Rueben Randle.

Dowell Loggains' energy suiting Mike Glennon, Bears QBs well

Dowell Loggains' energy suiting Mike Glennon, Bears QBs well

As Bears quarterbacks begin learning Dowell Loggains’ offense, they’re also in a getting-to-know-you phase with each other. 

While it’s not Mike Glennon’s job to develop Mitch Trubisky — that falls on Loggains and Dave Ragone — there does need to be some level of harmony from Glennon to Trubisky to Mark Sanchez to Connor Shaw in this unit. Coach John Fox is no fan of locker room drama, after all. 

The energy Loggains brings to practice could help foster some of that unit-level cohesiveness. Whether it’s through practice competitions or his spirited coaching style, it’s helped keep things lively as the Bears move through their offseason program. 

“He does a great job,” Glennon said. “He brings a lot of energy and he’s got that young personality that a lot of guys respond well to. It’s been great having him around along with a lot of other players and coaches, but he definitely does a great job bringing that energy.”

Shaw is the only holdover in the Bears’ quarterback room from last year, and even then, he suffered a season-ending injury during preseason play in August. The new guys are a 27-year-old signed to a $45 million contract, the No. 2 pick in the draft and a veteran who started two AFC Championship games. 

Good chemistry in the quarterback room doesn’t guarantee success, but it’s something that probably can’t hurt, especially with the development of Trubisky underway. That the Bears have been emphatic in defining Glennon’s role — it’s his year — set the right tone, Ragone said earlier this month. Adding Loggains’ energy in practice seems to have had a positive effect already, too. 

“With three new guys, they've worked very hard in the classroom and now finally we get to take it out on the field, so they're pretty enthusiastic themselves,” coach John Fox said. “And that's just Dowell's style.

“We have some pretty good guys in that room. Different levels of experience that have been there before and done it and that dynamic as far as being a good teammate and the relationship you have with that so I think that's why they handle it so well.”