Cutler’s Success Will Be Determined by His Receivers More than Ever and Other Points of View


  • Mike Florio at thinks the Bears offense might look a lot like the Viking’s offense a decade ago.  He makes and interesting point:

“While all of this may be good news for the fantasy football crowd, the reality is that, under [Bears offensive coordinator, MikeTice, the Vikings went to the playoffs only once in four seasons.  If that pattern repeats itself in Chicago, he won’t be the offensive coordinator for long — because there will be a new head coach.”

“[Gabe] Carimi’s return is critical. While [Phil] Emery has shored up key positions, he has left himself open to criticism by leaving an average offensive line virtually untouched. The line is better than critics think. With a makeshift lineup, the Bears were ninth in the NFL in rushing, and Jay Cutler was sacked nine times in is final seven games last season. But disastrous games with Cutler running for his life against the New York Giants in 2010 and the Detroit Lions in 2011 still define our image of the line.”

As well they should.

  • Former Bears left tackle Jim Covert has some suggestions to improve Chicago Bears’ pass blocking.  From Fred Mitchell at the Chicago Tribune:

“’The technique nowadays is dreadful,’ said Covert, now president and CEO of The Institute for Transfusion Medicine. ‘You very rarely see guys punch(-block) people with their hands, get separation.

“’In these days of the three-step drop … the short passing game … you can essentially shock the guy at the line of scrimmage and almost fall down and (the defender) won’t get to the passer. Yet these (offensive linemen) continually back up and catch people and it is just frustrating to watch.

“’You can’t catch people, you have to shock people at the line of scrimmage. You have to stop them. Pass blocking is controlled aggression.’”

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune on the challenges Bears guard Chilo Rachal faces with a new offense in Chicago:

“The 6-foot-5 Rachal is listed at 323 pounds but says he is about 310 right now, the weight he reported to camp at last summer after dropping “30 some pounds.”  He possesses the size and athleticism to do some of the pulling offensive coordinator Mike Tice likes in the running game.

“‘I’m in real good shape,” he said. “I feel explosive. I can move good.’”

“Mike Ditka was among those honored with a Ring Lardner Award on Wednesday night.

“‘I am honored, but for me to get any kind of broadcast award, you guys have got to be nuts,’ joked Ditka during the organization’s annual dinner at the Union League Club in downtown Chicago. ‘You must have (gone) to the bottom of the barrel and turned it upside down.’”

“If Chicago wanted to be host to a Super Bowl, it should have done two things differently in 2001 when the city decided to rebuild Soldier Field.

“It should have made the capacity significantly larger, and it should have put a dome over it.

“And MetLife Stadium, where the Super Bowl will be played, has FieldTurf. Soldier Field has grass. In February, Soldier Field has a mixture of dead grass, mud and sand.”

“So the chances of Chicago having a Super Bowl are roughly the same as the chances of Jupiter having one.”

“This is by far the largest scouting staff the Bears ever have had. The 2012 Bears personnel staff will have 18 scouts, six more than the 2011 staff.”

“Despite making exorbitant salaries, 60 percent of NBA players are broke within five years of retirement, according to a 2009 Sports Illustrated article. And 78 percent of NFL players are broke within three years.”

So what would former Bears tell the current Bears?  I thought former tight end Dez Clark has the best advise:

“You play football and you let people who manage money manage your money, but you always know what’s going on with your money. And if you think it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”

 “I am a Matt Forte fan, but if he is going to be more of a distraction and not be in the Bears’ long-term future, is there any thought to trading him for a first- or second-round pick?  Michael Bush is a solid running back and when given the chance has performed at a high level. Mr. L, Woodstock

“I highly doubt any team would give the Bears a first-round pick for Forte, and I wonder if a team would even give up a second-round pick. It’s possible that a desperate team that loses its runner to injury could part with a second-rounder. But Forte is worth much more than that to the Bears.”

Two points:

1)  I am constantly amazed at the insistence of fans that current players are worth as much as they are in trade.  Teams hang on to first and second round draft picks like gold.

2)  I’ve heard words like “expendable” thrown around when referring to Mat Forte.  But I can tell you truly that Michael Bush cannot perform at a level anywhere close to Forte.  He’s a big back who runs and blocks like one and I like him.  But he can’t catch passes like Forte nor can he run with Forte’s vision.  Believe me, the Bears would miss Forte badly if they went into the season without him.

“Does Shea McClellan look big enough to compete at defensive end? He looks undersized and less than intimidating. He also seems to lack strength, only doing 18 reps of the bench press. How does he look up close? Eric Johnson, Las Vegas

“He certainly does not look like Julius Peppers or Israel Idonije. But that in and of itself does not mean McClellin cannot compete and excel at the position. McClellin, at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, would look plenty big next to Dwight Freeney (6-foot-1, 268), Robert Mathis (6-foot-2, 245) or Elvis Dumervil (5-foot-11, 260). Some of how he copes with not being the biggest defensive end depends how the Bears use him. If the Bears line up McClellin squarely over the tackle on every snap, they may be disappointed. But put him on an edge and let him use his instincts quickness and speed, and they should be very pleased. Some smaller defensive ends believe their lack of size is an advantage because it enables them to get underneath the pads of bigger blockers. McClellin, not surprisingly, has been pretty good at playing the leverage game during his college career.”

I would only add that Phil Emery, being a former strength and conditioning coach, undoubtedly took McClellin as much because of the potential he saw in his body as anything else.  I’ve got a suspicion McClellin’s going to get a lot bigger.


“I can’t believe Roger Goodell would risk having scab officials ruin games.  The NFL might be better off cancelling games than having every game called into question because of the perception of inferior officiating.”

I don’t think I’d go that far but I do see a lot of trouble on the horizon.  For instance, here’s what rookie Bears defensive end Shea McClellin said about adjusting to the NFL game: (via Mitchell)

“Everybody says speed (in the NFL) … is probably the biggest difference.”

He’s not wrong.

I remember going to see my first NFL game live like it was yesterday.  I’d seen many college games before and figured, based on what I’d seen on television all of my life, that what I was about to see wasn’t that much different.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The speed of the NFL game is just incredible.  The first think I remember thinking was that even if I had the physical traits, there was no way I’d be able to play linebacker in the NFL because the speed of the game requires that you react by instinct.  The second thing I thought was how tough it would be a referee.

  • If only it were this easy…  From The Sports Pickle.
  • “Rodgers” is Apparently Harder to Spell Than “Favre”.  Also from The Sports Pickle:


One Final Thought

Greg Cosell at NFL Films provides insight into quarterback Jay Cutler:

“You may recall one issue raised in the evaluation process was Cutler’s tendency to force throws into coverage. Those who said that were wrong. Cutler was throwing to wide receivers matched one-on-one on the outside. Here’s the way it works in the passing game: The best you can get is man coverage. When that happens, the quarterback expects his receivers to get open. If your receivers do not win, it’s not the quarterback’s fault. At Vanderbilt, Cutler threw a lot of passes to receivers that could not win against more talented SEC corners. That was viewed erroneously as a troubling indication of poor judgment and decision making.”

“Cutler is often what I call a ‘see it, throw it’ passer. By that I mean he must see his receiver break open before he pulls the trigger. His powerful arm allows him to do that. He’s not a true anticipation passer, throwing the ball before receivers begin their breaks. He’s capable of it, and there are instances in which he has done it, but that’s not the signature of his play.”

These are good points.  They explain why Mike Martz’s offense was never a good fit for Cutler.  Martz requires his quarterbacks to throw to a spot and trust the receiver to get there to catch it.  It failed on both fronts with Cutler both because he’s not mentally wired to throw with that kind of anticipation and he (rightfully) did not trust his wide receivers.

It’s possible that Cutler will do better with Tice.  But it will be more important than ever that he have wide receivers that can battle for the ball one-on-one in coverage.  Earl Bennett and Brandon Marshall have shown they can do that.  Alshon Jeffery was drafted because the Bears think he can do that.  The rest of the Bears receivers…  well, we’ll see.

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