Bears

Why Zach Miller's TD was overturned, and what Kendall Wright thought was ‘disrespectful’ about it

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USA Today

Why Zach Miller's TD was overturned, and what Kendall Wright thought was ‘disrespectful’ about it

NEW ORLEANS — Referee Carl Cheffers offered this explanation as to why Zach Miller’s third quarter touchdown was overturned in the Bears’ 20-12 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday:

“Obviously we are all familiar with the process of a catch at this point,” Cheffers said via pool reporter Herbie Teope of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “So we ruled that he was going to the ground as part of the process of the catch. So when he goes to the ground, he has to survive the ground. He went to the ground, he temporarily lost control of the ball. The ball hit the ground, therefore it’s incomplete. The ball hit the ground out of his control. So as part of the process of the catch, he did not complete that process, and therefore it was incomplete and they overturned the call on the field.

“… They are always close, but that process has been in place for some time now. So, that is what we ended up ruling.”

The replay of Miller’s catch is hard to watch, with the tight end’s left knee gruesomely snapping in the end zone turf (coach John Fox said the initial diagnosis is a dislocated knee, though he’ll continue to be evaluated in a hospital in the area). The issue is the play was ruled a touchdown on the field, and was overturned with seemingly spurious video evidence — at least what was made available on the television broadcast and at the Superdome. While Cheffers said everyone has a knowledge of what a catch is, it doesn’t seem like that’s the case — players, officials, fans, coaches included. 

“It looked like a touchdown to me,” wide receiver Kendall Wright said. 

Wright took issue with the Superdome showing the replay of Miller’s catch/non-catch — which included that stomach-churning injury — over and over again before, during and after he was carted off the field. 

“I think it was really, really disrespectful of the Saints — I don’t care if they were challenging or not — I think it was really disrespectful to show that play on the replay screen more than five times,” Wright said. “I don’t know what you get out of that, and I’m sure I don’t know what other people — like, I’m sure people don’t want to look at that.”

The Bears were able to respond after the shock of having Miller’s touchdown taken away, but the loss of a veteran tight end and pillar of the locker room will be felt for much longer.  

“Zach works hard, he’s a leader on our team,” center Cody Whitehair said. “We’ll keep Zach in our prayers for sure.”

Making matters more difficult to swallow for the Bears: Miller’s season ended prematurely last year due to a broken foot, and a separate foot injury kept him sidelined for the entire 2014 season. He’s missed time due to various other injuries, too, and fell out of the league from 2012-2014 due to them. 

“He is a fantastic person, he’s a great teammate,” coach John Fox said. “He is loved in our locker room. You hate to see it happen to anybody, especially somebody like that.”

“We lost a soldier, a leader, and just a good guy,” Wright said. “He’s a guy you want to be around all the time. He’s one of our leaders and one of our best playmakers. We’ll miss him."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Did the Bears technically "win" on Sunday?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Did the Bears technically "win" on Sunday?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times) and Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap on the panel.  Kap is happy that Mitch Trubisky played ok and John Fox’s team lost again.  The panel disagrees.

Plus Leonard Floyd doesn’t have an ACL tear…. Yet. Should the Bears shut him down even if he gets good news?

Bears need Mitch Trubisky to become a closer, but teammates see it coming

Bears need Mitch Trubisky to become a closer, but teammates see it coming

With Sunday’s game on the line and the Bears owning the football at their 17-yard line, the offense needed a drive for field goal position to tie the Detroit Lions. But rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, with 1:03 on the clock, wasn’t thinking 3 points. He was thinking touchdown and a win, and the huddle knew it.

“I think that's his mindset all the time,” said guard Josh Sitton, who recognized something familiar in Trubisky’s face that Sitton had seen over his years with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. “He's a play-maker, he's got all the confidence in the world in himself and the guys around him.

“You can just see it on his face. I don't think he really says anything, he doesn't really need to say anything, you can kind of see it, by that look in his eyes. He's got what it takes to be a great player in this league.”

It was not intended to be any even remote comparison with Rodgers. More than eyes are involved in that. But while the drive Sunday ended in failure in the form of a missed field goal, something was noted in the process.

The 13-play drive for the Bears’ first touchdown Sunday was the longest sustained by the offense under Trubisky. And it was a statement possession for an offense that had not scored a first-quarter touchdown in nine prior games.

But if a negative among the many Trubisky positives was the fourth time in five situations that Trubisky has failed to direct a game-winning or –tying drive, which goes a long way to answering why the Bears are 2-4 under him. Actually the number of come-up-short drives is more than those if you count things like a three-and-out at Baltimore in regulation before Trubisky led a seven-play drive for a winning overtime field goal.

Still, looking a little deeper, Trubisky has gotten progressively “closer” to being the kind of finisher that the Bears have needed for decades. At the very least, Trubisky is keeping drives alive longer and longer, if not ending them with points. In these situations:

Vs.                     4th qtr/OT situation

Minnesota         1 play, interception ends potential winning drive

Baltimore          3 plays, punt, regulation ends in tie

                           7 plays, game-winning FG in OT

Carolina            Game already decided

New Orleans    2 plays, interception ends drive for tie

Green Bay        5 plays, ball over on downs on drive for tie

Detroit               11 plays, missed FG for tie

Within the huddle, the team confidence in Trubisky and vice versa has clearly grown, regardless of outcome, and that is something the offense did not consistently have in Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley, Brian Hoyer, Jay Cutler, Jimmy Clausen or even Josh McCown.

“[Trubisky] is just growing and growing and you just see it,” Sittyon said. “You saw the talent right away and he just keeps ... the nuances of the game, he just keeps learning and learning. He gives you all the confidence in the world as a guy in the locker room and on the field, in the huddle.

“He has that look in his eye where you're thinking 'All right, he's going to get the job done.’”

Staff addition? Probably not but Bears have an opening

Taking a morning-after look around the NFL after the Bears’ 27-24 loss to the Detroit Lions:

Something to probably dismiss but at least worth mentioning… .

The Denver Broncos on Monday fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, the same Mike McCoy who handled the Denver offense as John Fox’s OC. Don’t expect anything in-season, certainly not at this point, but the situation does offer an interesting future option if somehow Fox sees the fourth and final year of his contract, even looking further down the coaching road irrespective of Fox’s presence.

McCoy was ousted from a foundering Broncos situation, presumably over not being able to make anything much out of Trevor Simian

McCoy, who was the mix of candidates and interviewed to succeed Lovie Smith back in 2012, wouldn’t necessarily be brought in as offensive coordinator by Fox or anyone else. What about the role of “consultant” or “assistant head coach” added to the Bears offensive staff?

The Bears have neither position on the staff currently, and haven’t had an assistant head coach since Rod Marinelli had that as part of his title from 2009-2012 under Lovie Smith. Marinelli, like McCoy, had been a head coach as well.

Notably, Fox kept McCoy on his staffs when Fox was hired both in Carolina and Denver, a good measure of Fox’s take on McCoy’s offensive-coaching skills. Fox added the job of passing-game coordinator to McCoy’s duties as quarterbacks coach with Carolina in 2007-08. Since then McCoy coached Peyton Manning in Denver and Philip Rivers in San Diego.

Also notably, perhaps in the other direction, Fox might have brought McCoy to Chicago after the latter was fired as Chargers head coach after last season. That didn’t happen, possibly because McCoy instead wanted a full OC position, which wasn’t open with Loggains in place.

Offensive consultants aren’t necessarily staff bloating; they have been referred to as “coaches for coaches.” Bruce Arians brought in longtime OC Tom Moore when Arians became Arizona Cardinals head coach (following Phil Emery’s decision to go with Marc Trestman over Arians). Moore previously served as offensive coordinator, then senior offensive coordinator, then offensive consultant through the Peyton Manning years in Indianapolis. Moore subsequently became offensive consultant for the Jets (2011) and Tennessee Titans (2012), the latter stint while Loggains was offensive coordinator.

Longtime offensive line coach Jim McNally has been a “consultant” with the Jets (2011-12) and Bengals (2012-this season). Randy Brown was a kicking consultant working under Bears special teams coaches in the Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron regimes, going on to work under John Harbaugh in Philadelphia and Baltimore.