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15 on 6: Cutler was Catalyst for Bears on Sunday

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15 on 6: Cutler was Catalyst for Bears on Sunday

Monday, October 5th
CSNChicago.com
Jay Cutler proved to be the catalyst on Sunday as the Chicago Bears played down to the level of their opponent during week 4. Many times, as a player, you sense your team is just not "feeling it" on gameday. You build upall week preparing mentally and physically for Sunday. I have been through great weeks of practice where your confident everyone is "locked in" as a team, only to go out andlay an egg. Other times, practices were so wretched you worried of the embarrassment along with the wrath of coaches that would soon follow a poor performanceonly to besurprised when the team put forth one of its best efforts. Normally, a player steps up and stops the bleeding in the later scenario which Jay Cutler did today.

I couldalways tell in the huddle if we were going through the motions.Asthe startingquarterback, you are in charge of the group. You have to do something to get the blood flowing in the offense. It could be changing the tempo with snap count, the inflection of your voice calling plays to create a sense of urgency, or it could be flat out making a play. Jay infused not only the offense, buthisentire team. The excitement from asell out crowd was his bonus. Three times with great plays, Jay stopped the bleeding for the Bears in the first half. Otherwise, it could have been a long day.

1. Look at the reactionfrom Bear teammates whenJay leaped into the end zone for the Bears first score. Heearned more trust displaying he willsacrifice his bodyfor his team when called upon. When you have a chance to score in the NFL, YOU DO IT! Too many things can go wrong on any play. Just look at the 3rd downand goal situation early third quarter as reference. Jaytried to hand offa power play to Matt Forte but was stepped on by pullingRG Roberto Garza thus,the Bears had to settle for a field goal by Robbie Gould.You must seize the opportunity when you have it and Jay knowing the moment cashed in withunselfishness and great effort on his touchdown run.

2. I originally thoughthis second big play was a double post, but after seeing the replay, it was a deep dig route (in cut)toEarl Bennett. Hester was in the slot with Bennett on his outside. Jay faked the play action to his left, which is tough actionfor a right handed thrower. The reason is your eyes come off the safeties as you drop to fake and your back is to the defense. Also, you are dropping opposite of what you need to set your feetto deliver the football. You need to make your fake a good onetofreeze thedefender over the slot and the middle linebacker who could potentially drop into the lane of the throw. Once you reel around you better locate that backside safety quickly because he is your key. If the safety bites on the dig route, Jay may have potentially hitHester down the middle who was influencing by clearing him deep. Lions safety Ko Simpsonwas threatened enough by Hester's speed for Jay to pull the trigger for a 25 yard gain to Bennett, which set up the two yard TD pass to TE KellenDavis.

3.Touchdown number one when Jay called his own number influenced touchdown number three to Greg Olsen in the second quarter. Offensive Coordinator Ron Turner wanted to put the ball in the hot hand of Jay at this point. It was a 4th down and goal call. Give Jay the run pass option. The Lions already witnessed Jay running for a score. They immediately reacted when Jay bootlegged out to prevent him from doing it again. It became an easy touchdown toss to Greg Olsen in the back of the end zone to put the Bears ahead 21 to 14.

This is why the NFL is a QB driven league. A quarterback like Jay Cutler can elevate everyone's play. It's what franchise QB's do. You can't tell me the Indianapolis Colts defense is better than the Bears. Why are the Coltsundefeated? When the offensive line is notup to snuff, Manning makes a play!WhenJosephAddai got hurt last year, Manning made plays! When soonto be Hall of Fame WR Marvin Harrison retired, the offense has not missed a beat! Be thankful for Jay Cutler. Ron Turner is! His play calling just got a hell of a lot easier this year. The last three weeks have proved it withso-called nowide receivers and an offense that supposedly can't run the ball.

Can the Bears make enough plays to beat the Carolina Panthers?

Can the Bears make enough plays to beat the Carolina Panthers?

Everything changed for the Bears after going up 17-3 last week against the Baltimore Ravens. Mitchell Trubisky’s 27-yard touchdown to Dion Sims was immediately followed by Bobby Rainey running a kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown, then the offense was bogged down with three fumbles (two lost) on three consecutive possessions. 

But Adrian Amos seemed to seal the game with his 90-yard pick six — that is, until Michael Campanaro ran Pat O’Donnell’s punt back 77 yards for what wound up being a game-tying touchdown after a two-point conversion.

The point is the Bears should’ve cruised to a comfortable win last week; a few critical mistakes didn’t allow that to happen. The Bears haven’t led at the end of the fourth quarter this year, a pretty strong indicator they haven’t played a complete game yet despite having two wins. 

The Carolina Panthers have road wins over the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots this year, and only lost to the Philadelphia Eagles by five points last week (despite Cam Newton throwing three interceptions). The bet here is the Bears keep things close on the backs of a strong defense, but either can’t make enough plays or make too many mistakes to win. 

Prediction: Panthers 20, Bears 16

Three and out: What Ron Rivera likes about Mitchell Trubisky played out this week

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USA TODAY

Three and out: What Ron Rivera likes about Mitchell Trubisky played out this week

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera saw a lot of Mitchell Trubisky last year, with the North Carolina quarterback on TV quite a bit in the Charlotte area. The Panthers, set with Cam Newton, weren’t in the market for a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft, but Trubisky nonetheless stood out to the seventh-year Carolina coach and former Super Bowl-winning Bears linebacker. 

For Rivera, more than Trubisky’s arm strength and athleticism jumped off the screen. 

“Leadership,” Rivera pointed to. “When you watch him when he was playing — I love watching guys that either get on their teammates when they’re not doing it or they take accountability when they make a mistake. And you saw that with him.

“… We think the young man has got what it takes. We like who’s he’s gonna become. We do. We think the future can be bright for him. We are big fans here.”

Trubisky took accountability for both of his turnovers against the Minnesota Vikings: The interception Harrison Smith baited him into was certainly his fault, but his sack-strip fumble was more the result of Everson Griffen jumping the snap and blowing past left tackle Charles Leno. Against the Baltimore Ravens, Trubisky also lost a fumble on a sack-strip when cornerback Lardarius Webb hit him and dislodged the ball.

Trubisky’s explanation of that fumble was that he moved off his first read too quickly, causing him to miss Webb making a beeline for him in the backfield. But according to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, that fumble wasn’t the quarterback’s fault. 

“That’s because he’s a stud,” Loggains said of Trubisky taking responsibility for it. “We screwed the protection up. We should have been sliding to the guy. The guy should not have been coming free. That’s Mitch taking a bullet that he doesn’t need to take. The reality is he saw the guy coming and tried to get over to the check down quickly but we got to do a better job up front protecting him.”

But that Trubisky was willing to say he was at fault for that fumble plays into why he quickly gained the respect of the Bears’ the locker room. That’s what a quarterback should be doing when speaking to the media after the game — accepting responsibility and deflecting off his teammates, even if he’s not at fault. That kind of stuff doesn’t go unnoticed. 

Stopping Superman

Pernell McPhee offered this goal up for his fellow defensive teammates this week: Make sure Newton stays as Clark Kent on Sunday. 

“He’s a very talented guy, but the only thing I told the defense is let's make him be Cam Newton, not Superman,” McPhee said, referring to Newton’s signature touchdown move. “We don't want him opening up the cape.”

So how does a defense stop Newton from being Superman?

“He’s a very versatile quarterback,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “Obviously his running the ball, whether it be through his improvising with scrambling on called pass plays, or the called running plays they do have for him, that’s a strength for him. We can’t just focus on stopping that. We’ve gotta stop Cam Newton the passer and the runner. They’ve got good running backs they’re handing it off to and receivers and running backs he’s throwing it to, so you’ve got a total offense to stop.”

One point to note here: Newton threw three interceptions last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and had been picked off eight times this year. A Bears secondary that intercepted Joe Flacco twice last week could have some more shots at takeaways on Sunday. 

High praise

Sunday will mark Thomas Davis’ 156th game in the NFL, with the linebacker playing every one of those with the Carolina Panthers. He played for John Fox from 2005-2010. But where we’re going here is what he had to say about how the Bears run their offense with a rookie quarterback:

“I think this is probably the best running game that we’ve seen from an offense with a rookie quarterback,” Davis said. “You look at some of the other rookies that come in. Teams want to run the ball. But when you look at the physicality and the style of play that this team plays with, I think that really makes the job a lot easier for a young quarterback. So I definitely feel like that physicality in their running game is definitely going to help him out.”

The Bears ran the ball 50 times against a Baltimore Ravens defense that played a lot more Cover-2 than expected. With star linebacker Luke Kuechly out for Sunday, the Bears may try to use a similar strategy, even if Carolina loads the box more than Baltimore did (a little more than once one every three runs by Jordan Howard). 

But if the Bears’ offense is going to have success, it’s going to be behind Howard, Tarik Cohen and an improving offensive line. Maybe Davis’ comments are hyperbole, but he’s also played a lot more football than you and me.