Just How Far Can Coaching Take You? And Other Points of View.


  • Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes safety Ryan Mundy on the Bears excellent red zone defense last Sunday:

    “‘It doesn’t have to get to that point. I was kind of saying that to our defense throughout the first half [against the Jets]. We would let them get into the red zone and hold them to a field goal, which is great. But it doesn’t have to get to that point. We can start making those plays earlier in the [possession] — get the field-position game going and keep points off the board.'”

    The quote isn’t as significant as Mundy saying it. I’ve been wondering who, if anyone, was going to emerge as a leader on the defense with linebacker Lance Briggs still acting like a child at age 34. Mundy might be the guy.

  • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com quotes defensive coordinator Mel Tucker:

    “I asked Tucker if Lamarr Houston has had the impact he’d hoped on the run game and he replied ‘We talked about it today. We need to find a way to make more plays in the game. We need to find a way to get better in practice this week. We have to. It’s a cliché. But if you don’t get better week-in and week – out, you’ve got a big problem because it’s so competitive out there and the margins are so slim and so that’s our focus right now with Lamarr and anyone.'”

    Translation: “No.”

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

    “What are the chances Brian de la Puente keeps the starting center job after Roberto Garza is healthy? — @TomOMalley23 from Twitter

    “De la Puente has played well when you consider the communication needed up front and the fact that the Bears have played two road games against good defenses and held up relatively well. I’d suspect Garza will reclaim his starting job when he is healthy. The Bears certainly have not run the ball effectively the last two weeks and there are no indications at this point the team wants to replace Garza.”

    This is the second week in a row I’ve seen this question as it appeared twice last week (once in the Tribune and once in the Sun-Times). Is there something I’m missing? Has Garza been that bad? True, the Bears haven’t missed a beat in pass protection but it isn’t like they’re running over people out there.

  • Here’s a question to Biggs that I liked better:

    “When the Bears set before a play, on a large number of plays the left guard would reach over to the center and tap him on the shoulder as an apparent signal to snap the ball. Last year he used to point his arm forward for a one-count. Clearly this is legal somehow, but why is the movement not considered a false start? — Chris R., Midlothian, Ill., from email

    “Left guard Michael Ola reaches over and taps center Brian de la Puente (as Matt Slauson and Roberto Garza did before they were injured) in the shotgun to let him know quarterback Jay Cutler is ready for the snap. This is not a false start because the left guard is not simulating the start of the play. Here is the NFL’s rule for a false start – Rule 7, Section 4, Article 2:

    “‘It is a False Start if the ball has been placed ready for play, and, prior to the snap, an offensive player who has assumed a set position charges or moves in such a way as to simulate the start of a play, or if an offensive player who is in motion makes a sudden movement toward the line of scrimmage. Any quick abrupt movement by a single offensive player, or by several offensive players in unison, which simulates the start of the snap, is a false start.'”

    Perhaps a better question would be “Why does the guard have to tell the center that the quarterback is ready? Can’t he look for himself?”

  • David Just at the Chicago Sun-Times asks why the Bears are falling in the national rankings after back to back road wins on national television. I think the comments from Yahoo! Sports probably gives a good indication:

    “Their best player on Monday night was the opposing quarterback.”

    The national press doesn’t believe in the Bears because their victories are perceived as being more a result of bad play by their opponents than good play on their part. For once the national press might not be wrong.

  • Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times reads my mind as he predicts the result of the Bears-Packers matchup:

    “Packers 27-23

    “Though the Bears are improving, it seems like injuries are starting to catch up to them — Brandon Marshall’s ankle could be particularly problematic for an offense that has been good but not great so far. Bears caught a lot of breaks vs. the Jets. They’ll have to play much better to beat Aaron Rodgers.”

    It’s not that I don’t give them credit. After all, you still have to catch the interception is its thrown to you. But the Packers don’t generally throw games away like the 49ers and the Jets did. Even though they lost last week against the Lions they still won the turnover battle. The Bears simply have to play better if they want to win this game.

  • Many interesting things about this match up have been emphasized over the course of the week but the thing that sticks out most to me are the injury reports for the Bears and Packers.

    The Bears have declared four starters out: Garza, Slaughson, Shea McClellin and Jeremiah Ratliff. They have also declared special teams stalwart Sherrick McManus out.

    Who is out for the Packers? Nobody.

    The Bears are going to have to suck it up and overcome some adversity this week.

One Final Thought

Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes Bears quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh on coaching accuracy:

“[Aaron] Rodgers’ precision might receive rave reviews, but Cavanaugh doesn’t buy into the premise of natural accuracy. Rather, he said, it’s a familiarity with an offensive scheme and receivers and incessant work on fundamentals.

“‘‘I don’t know if anybody is just naturally accurate,’’ Cavanaugh said. ‘‘There’s a lot of work [involved]. There are guys who may not have been naturally accurate but learn how to be accurate. You make yourself drill.’’

“For strong-armed quarterbacks such as Cutler, who are prone to throw off their back feet, drill work is everything. And it’s relentless work under Cavanaugh and coach Marc Trestman. It’s an every-practice process.

“It’s all about muscle memory.

“‘‘When the ball is snapped, all those fundamentals are really the last thing you think about,’’ Cavanaugh said. ‘‘But if you’re drilling it right, then there’s a lot of guys who can be accurate.’’”

It’s an interesting thought. And obviously one that comes from a coach’s point of view. In my experience, coaches tend to look for raw talent like arm strength in the draft because they feel like they can coach accuracy and other refinements into the player later. It doesn’t always work out that way.

I think Cutler has, indeed, been more accurate this year and I’ve no doubt Cavanaugh and Trestman are a big part of that. But he still throws off of his back foot when he’s under pressure. At this point I don’t think he’ll ever get in enough drill work to completely overcome the tendency.

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