Cutler Needs Time with Martz to Succeed. And Much, Much More.

Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times writes about the fact that quarterback Jay Cutler needs an off season with offensive coordinator Mike Martz to correct his problems.  That means Bear fans should be praying there’s no lockout.  This is a very, very good article and its worth the read.  But I’ll bottom line it with the principal quotes from former Bears quarterback Jim Miller:

“’The problem with Jay is, because he’s so athletic, you don’t want to curtail him too much because that takes from that part of his game,’ said Miller, an analyst for Comcast SportsNet and Sirius NFL Radio. ‘But I get upset watching him because he could be so much better. He could be lights-out if he cleans up his footwork and fundamentals. All those things are correctable.’”

“’Jay can get there, but he has to have the ‘want to’ to be great, and the discipline to be able to do that.  He did a much better job this year of checking himself and not throwing dumb interceptions. Now if he can take it to the next level, with his footwork and things like that, then he can play to the level of an Aaron Rodgers.’”

Over and over again I’ve tried to point out that Cutler’s problems with leadership, with the media, with his peers, all reflect one fundamental difficulty.  That despite his immense physical talent, people doubt whether he has what it takes to do the little things he needs to do as a player to be great.

That’s what Miller means when he uses terms like “want to” and “discipline”.  He’s not talking about “toughness”.  He’s talking about what keeps a man in front of a screen until midnight watching tape.  He’s talking about, not spending 20 minutes twice a week working on footwork but spending hours on it, drilling and drilling and drilling.

Renowned psychiatrist Anna Freud once said, “I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time.”

Cutler needs more time with Martz, who is probably the first decent quarterback coach they’ve had since Greg Olson left.  But he needs a lot more than that.  He needs the desire and force of will that it takes to overcome all obstacles and be the best.  That can’t from a coach.  It can only come from within one’s self.  We can only hope that it is buried somewhere deep within Jay Cutler.

Bears at a Crossroads at Cornerback

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Sun-Times continues his positional analysis with the cornerbacks.  He describes the Bears fundamental problem:

“The thing to keep in mind is Cover-2 based defenses don’t put a high premium on the position. That’s not to say cornerbacks are not valued. But it’s a zone-based scheme so the Bears aren’t out looking to invest in shutdown corners like Nnamdi Asomugha, who command huge salaries.”

The Bears find themselves at an important junction at cornerback.  Biggs is absolutely right about the cover two and in the past its obvious that general manager Jerry Angelo has followed the philosophy described the article.  Concentrate on the pass rush and pick up your zone cornerbacks after that.

But having said that, the Bears probably played more single coverage this year than they ever have before.  They had to.  Teams are getting too good at setting up mismatches and picking apart zones if you don’t occasionally mix up the defense.  The Bears had success doing that this year but they occasionally came up short simply because they couldn’t cover, particularly when it came to keeping up with good slot receivers.  Wes Welker in New England makes a living off of mismatches created in this fashion.  That’s why the only way to beat them is to do what the Jets do – play ferocious man-t0-man defense and challenge every throw.  Green Bay does the same thing with whoever they decide to line up in the slot on a play-by-play basis.

If the Bears are going to continue to play so much man-to-man coverage underneath, they are going to need more and better cover corners.  Where they are going to find them while still filling their other holes is a real problem.

Time to Acknowledge the One Basic Fact about the Packers

Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times explains why the Packers winning the Super Bowl is really bad news for the Bears:

“Why are the Packers able to plug in rookie Bryan Bulaga — the 24th pick of the 2010 draft — at offensive tackle and win the Super Bowl, while the Bears’ Chris Williams — the 14th pick of the 2008 draft — is running out of o-line positions to find a home?

“Why was Packers linebacker Erik Walden — picked up off the street on Oct. 27 — an unstoppable force in Week 17?

“Why was Cullen Jenkins — who missed the last month of the regular-season with a calf injury — a bigger factor in the NFC Championship Game than Peppers?

“How did Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn nearly beat the New England Patriots on the road a week after the Patriots dominated the Bears when Todd Collins threw four interceptions and had a 6.2 rating against the Carolina Panthers?

“The Packers have two basic advantages over the Bears right now: they do more with more and they do more with less.”

In other words, they’re a better organization top to bottom than the Bears.  It makes me sick to write it but its basically true.

“they do more with less”?  Why not just say they’re better coached?

“they do more with more”?  Why not just say they have better young talent because they’ve got a better general manager who knows how to draft?  One who didn’t have to spend a fortune in free agency or give away two years worth of top draft picks to make up for his own failures.

Potash only needed two words to write this article:  “They’re better.”  Its totally disgusting but its the simple truth.