Chicago Bears

Long-term futures of Cutler, Urlacher not necessarily secure

984145.png

Long-term futures of Cutler, Urlacher not necessarily secure

General Manager Phil Emery has used the phrase franchise quarterback when talking about Jay Cutler. His new coach artfully avoided that Cutler characterization on Thursday.
Hes a guy who really loves football, Marc Trestman said, creating a vague feeling of damning faint praise.
Longtime quarterbacks mentor Trestman did say that he cant wait to get my hands on Cutler, with the consensus in the room being that Trestman was speaking as a coach and not someone with hostile intent because of too many interceptions.
Cutler was not the only franchise player whose future was left in question by Trestman, who skirted questions about individual players by generally stating that he and Emery had not gone into enough depth yet.
With Lovie Smith gone and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli choosing to leave rather than work as a member of Trestmans staff, the future of middle linebacker Brian Urlacher moves from questionable to doubtful. Make that very doubtful after Trestman would say only that he had a sense of Urlacher as a Bear in the past.
I have a feeling that this guy has been a great player for this team, Trestman said. I recognize certainly what hes meant to this locker room, and to the fan base of the Chicago Bears. When we get done meeting with the media well begin to try to answer some of those questions and Phil will educate me to that.
Cutler screening
When Trestman was going through the interview process that culminated in his being named the 14th head coach in franchise history, Emery wanted input from Cutler.
Specifically, Emery wanted Cutler to meet with Trestman and come back with a sense of Trestman on four points: communication (can the guy be talked to easily?); poise (does the guy present as a head coach?); articulation (can the guy explain his football schemes and ideas?); and is he a leader (no explanation necessary).
Cutler was not involved in the final decision but Trestman received his quarterbacks endorsement. Then again, so did Mike Martz, although Martz went to Nashville to meet with Cutler, whereas Trestman was at Halas Hall for his Cutler meeting.
Trestman met with Cutler in years past, helping prepare him for the NFL Scouting Combine. But the Cutler he met with this week was not the same one he encountered before Cutler had ever thrown an NFL pass.
Hes a different guy, Trestman said. Hes in tune to where he is and where he wants to go. He understands his strengths and his weaknesses, and he wants to go forward.
I cant wait to get my hands on him and go to work with him, and I think hes ready. And were going to try to put a system of football and put people around him that can help him be the player that he wants to be.

Can Markus Wheaton fix what ails the Bears’ offense?

Can Markus Wheaton fix what ails the Bears’ offense?

Markus Wheaton was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and wasn’t on the Bears’ injury report Thursday, signaling that the 5-foot-11, 189 pound speedster will make his Bears debut Sunday against his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s not the solution for the Bears’ offense, but he could be part of it. 

For an offense that’s woefully lacked someone who can reliably stretch the field, Wheaton can at least provide the threat of going deep. Two years ago, while with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wheaton averaged 17 yards per reception. Mike Glennon’s longest completion this year went for 22 yards. 

“It definitely adds another dimension,” Glennon said. “It’ll be great having Markus back.”

But Wheaton only played in three games last season (four catches, 51 yards) and, at his best, averaged 48 catches, 696 yards and four touchdowns a year from 2014-2015. Is it fair to expect Wheaton to be a big part of the Bears' offensive solution given he hasn't played much recently, and was limited to only a handful of reps in training camp and preseason practices due to a pair of freak ailments?

Maybe not, but with the Bears 0-2, he's the best hope they have at a skill position. 

Wheaton needed an emergency appendectomy the first weekend the Bears were in Bourbonnais — “I thought I had to poop,” Wheaton said, maybe providing too much information, before realizing the excruiating pain in which he was in was something worse. Shortly after returning to the practice fields at Olivet Nazarene University, Wheaton fractured his pinkie finger in gruesome fashion (he said the bone was sticking out) when he was awkwardly grabbed while trying to catch a pass. 

That Wheaton broke a finger wasn’t only significant for his ability to catch passes. Consider what his former quarterback — Ben Roethlisberger — had to say about what makes Wheaton an effective deep threat:

“He’s got a very good ability of using his hands,” Roethlisberger said. “When you’re trying to stretch the field, you’ve gotta have some little techniques to help you get open because DBs can run as much as receivers can. So you gotta be able to use your hands to swim, kinda, get some swiping, get the hands off, I thought that he really had some good technique when it came to the deep ball and getting away from DBs.”

Roethlisberger and Wheaton shared a good rapport in Pittsburgh, with the quarterback clearly communicating to the receiver what he expected timing-wise in his routes. It’s been a challenge to develop something similar with Glennon given the lack of practice time, but Wheaton said putting in extra work after practice has helped. 

If Wheaton and Glennon can get on the same page, perhaps that can lead to at least some deep ball attempts. The Bears have to find a way to prevent opposing defenses from stacking the box and focusing on stopping Jordan Howard, who only has 59 yards on 22 carries this year. 

“We're going to face overpopulated boxes, we know that,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “There's going to be seven, eight guys in the box every time and we have to execute better and it comes down to that.”

According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, only three of Glennon’s 85 pass attempts have traveled 20 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The only completion of those was Sunday’s garbage-time touchdown to Deonte Thompson, which was caught near the back of the end zone. 

The threat of Wheaton going deep won’t be enough, though. Glennon still has prove he can complete those deep balls — the last time he completed a pass of 25 or more yards was on Nov. 2, 2014 (though he’s only attempted 96 passes since that date). 

But Wheaton feels ready to go and is confident he can do his job — which, in turn, could, in a best-case scenario, help his other 10 teammates on offense do their jobs, too. 

“It’s been a long time coming,” Wheaton said. “I’m excited and hopefully this is the week.”

Kris Bryant is all aboard the Mitch Trubisky bandwagon

kris_bryant_mitch_trubisky_slide_photo.jpg
AP

Kris Bryant is all aboard the Mitch Trubisky bandwagon

Count Kris Bryant among the Chicagoans who are calling for Mitch Trubisky to start at quarterback for the Bears.

OK, that may be a bit extreme as Bryant simply said he would supporting giving Trubisky a "shot", but still:

After a rough game for incumbent starting QB Mike Glennon last week, most of Chicago has been clamoring for the No. 2 overall pick to get some snaps under center.

Why wouldn't the crown prince of Chicago baseball get in on the noise?