15 on 6: Cutler's worst performance to date


15 on 6: Cutler's worst performance to date

Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010
7:03 PM
By Jim Miller


That's how I would classify how Jay Cutler looked in Sunday's loss to Seattle.

He was slow on his reads, if he knew them at all. I can point to several individual plays where his decision making alone would have moved the chains, thus putting the Bears in position to win. This is on top of the missed blocking assignments, missed hot reads and no commitment to the running game.

As always, the Bears get another break with Green Bay losing Sunday and Minnesota still on life support. Jay is too good a quarterback for these things to happen.

It is gut-check time.

I wrote in my last blog what Jay needed to do coming off injury. He needed to cross the bridge of getting hit, settle in and get mentally focused. It never materialized. He did get hit early, but missed several reads to get something going offensively.

In the fourth series of the game, Jay missed an easy dump off to the running back when the Bears were backed up in a field position battle. Jay, instead, elects to throw the deep curl route into three defenders on 2nd-and-10 that nearly got picked off. Chester Taylor is wide open in the flat off of "Chili 137" protection (fake the outside zone run, the running back looks to block WLB, if he's not there, he leaks to the flat). Missing his third read in the route tells me Jay was not mentally into it and definitely not seeing the field.

How many times do we talk about situational play? It is everything in the NFL. If you hit the wide open running back, you are in a minimum 3rd-and-5 situation, not third-and-10. Knowing what I know about Taylor, he makes a tackler miss for another two or three yards minimum. You have now dug your team out of a hole and even if you do not convert the third-and-short, Brad Maynard is not punting out of his own end zone.

Nothing wrong with playing the field position battle. Another example of Jay not knowing his assignment was on "Flanker Drive" (I broke this play down last year in this Blog if you need reference). Jay's missed read of Devin Hester, who is the No. 1 read and wide open on third-and-short leads to the missed 54-yard field goal. The score is 23-13 at the time. Think about it, the final score is 23-20. If Jay hits Devin, they move the chains and even if the drive does not conclude with a touchdown, Robbie is not sweating making 54-yarders. Give your team a chance, thinking the game allows you to play the game with confidence. That was bad football and Jay is better than that.


As the starting QB of your football team, you are the chief executive officer. If guys do not know their assignments, you tell them. When you are unsure yourself, there is a problem. Jay looked unsure of his own responsibilities Sunday, let alone everyone else's.

Jay needs to know future game plans inside and out. It is why Peyton Manning and Tom Brady never look panicked -- they are prepared for everything their opponent is doing or what they could do -- they have an answer, so there is no reason to panic.

This was Jay's worst performance to date and he is coming off injury. There are many challenges to learning a new offense, but he's the guy who needs to dig deeper.

I am concerned going into this weeks game against Washington because if Jay could not sort out Seattle's "Tampa 2" defense with added wrinkles, Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will be licking his chops.

Jim Miller, an 11-year former NFL quarterback, is a Comcast SportsNet Bears analyst who can be seen each week on U.S. Cellular Bears Postgame Live. Miller, who spent five seasons with the Bears, analyzes current Chicago QB Jay Cutler in his "15 on 6" blog on and can be followed on Twitter @15miller.

In moving forward with Dion Sims, the Bears will keep a mix of skillsets at tight end

USA Today

In moving forward with Dion Sims, the Bears will keep a mix of skillsets at tight end

When the Bears signed Trey Burton to a four-year contract worth a reported $32 million (with $18 million of it guaranteed), the natural thought was this: So long, Dion Sims. But the Bears are all but certainly going to hang on to the 27-year-old tight end after his $4 million roster bonus became fully guaranteed on Friday, barring a trade. 

“We like Dion Sims, a well-rounded tight end,” general manager Ryan Pace said on Thursday. “We’re excited we got him.”

Cynically — or, perhaps, fairly — Pace’s comments could’ve been interpreted as part of a play to trade Sims, who signed a three-year contract in 2017. The Bears saw Sims as a strong run blocker with pass-catching upside, but still gave themselves an out after one year that would’ve netted $5.666 million in cap savings. 

Sims didn’t show any of that receiving upside last year, though, catching 15 of 29 targets (51 percent) for 180 yards with one touchdown. Crucially, the Bears have the cap space to keep Sims, even with the flurry of signings they’ve announced this week -- and Kyle Fuller's reported four-year, $56 million extension -- and contract extensions looming for Eddie Goldman and possibly Adrian Amos, too. 

So hanging on to Sims means the Bears value his contributions as a run blocker and are willing to shoulder a $6.3 million cap hit for him to primarily be used in that role. The Bears expect Shaheen to be their primary in-line tight end, with Burton and Daniel Brown, who signed a one-year contract Friday, the more pass-catching-oriented “move” guys in Matt Nagy’s offense. But Sims will still have a role as the Bears look to maximize their production from the tight end position. 

“I think we can use all our tight ends,” Pace said. “I think the Super Bowl champions are a recent example of that, of using a lot of tight ends. They’re all valuable weapons. They’re all a little different. I think they all complement each other. It fits together nicely.”

Bears attitude adjustment already apparent in first wave of free agents

Bears attitude adjustment already apparent in first wave of free agents

The first thing you notice is some swagger, some chips on the shoulders of the newest Bears, and while that doesn’t win any games in-season, let alone in March, it’s something of a positive for a team that’d had a lot of its swagger pained out of it over the past two years in particular.

Receivers Taylor Gabriel and Allen Robinson, tight end Trey Burton, backup quarterback Chase Daniel and kicker Cody Parkey all said the requisite niceties and platitudes on Thursday, all about how much they like the coaches, the organization, all that stuff.

But I’ve seen free agents come and go since real free agency started in 1993. All levels of players coming through, and they all say right stuff. There was something else with this bunch, though, and it wasn’t always there in the past. (More on that in a second.)

So there was Gabriel mentioning how Mitch Trubisky had texted him after Gabriel had signed, and Gabriel first piping in with, “How’s your deep ball?” And Trubisky was right back at Gabriel, one of the fastest players in the NFL, with, “Are you still fast?”

Best guess — they’ll get along just fine.

Gabriel’s first comment on impressions of coach Matt Nagy? Not about his football knowledge, his enthusiasm. No, it was: “Smooth dude, man,” Gabriel said. “I like his swag a little bit.”

Robinson was described by former Jacksonville and current Bears teammate cornerback Prince Amukamara as “a nightmare” to play against because he let defensive guys, even his own, know when he’d had them for lunch. As far as now, a very high bar has been set: “I think for me as a player, it's not my job to make Mitch's job easier, it's to make his job easy.”

Two points on why this comes with a touch more relevance in the case of a Bears team coming off a fourth straight NFC North basement finish:

First, because of what developed on the other side of the football when the likes of Akiem Hicks, Pernell McPhee (describing his style of football as “violent”) and Danny Trevathan came in, even rookie safety Eddie Jackson last year. They brought in attitudes from not just winning organizations, but more important, championship organizations. And they were good enough to walk the walk, even as they struggled through injuries.

The result was that in less than three full seasons, the Bears were a Top 10 defense. Attitudes can be infectious, for good or bad, and the right attitude with the right players made the defense a force, even with its injuries.

What the Bears secured in their first wave of free agents was five players all involved in points production — two wide receivers, a tight end, a kicker and a backup quarterback, whose two mission statements consist of being ready to play winning football if he’s needed and also to be a foundation pillar for the starter, in this case Trubisky.

What makes this a speck more interesting is that Trubisky will be the biggest factor in formation of the 2018-and-beyond Bears, and it was Trubisky whom Leonard Floyd and his defensive mates dubbed “Pretty Boy Assassin” last year because of Trubisky’s give-some-smack attitude anytime he lit up the No. 1 defense just running scout-team plays.

The second observation is that this wasn’t the case last year with Markus Wheaton, Quintin Demps, Marcus Cooper, Dion Sims and certainly not Mike Glennon, last year’s main free agency additions. Some of that’s obviously personality; Glennon and those guys are simply not swagger-smack kinds of guys, and that’s OK, as long as they play with attitude.

Last year’s group, just to use them as a case in point, came from decent programs. But the current top Bears additions include Super Bowl winners (Burton, Daniel as Drew Brees’ backup), a Super Bowl loser (Gabriel, painfully in the Atlanta Falcons’ collapse vs. New England) and a top wideout who had his dream derailed by injury and missed out on his team’s drive to within 2 minutes 48 seconds of a Super Bowl (Robinson).

And while Nagy and the organization are probably wise to counsel patience in the Bears’ recovery climb, the players aren’t seeing it that way.

“You can never underestimate how important youth is and guys who are willing to learn and willing to get better, but then also you look at the city,” Burton said. “They want another championship. They want to win. They want to be winners. You look at the other sports, the Bulls, the Blackhawks, the Cubs, the Cubs just won a couple years ago.

“The city's ready for another championship and like I said, they have a great quarterback, young quarterback, and an unbelievable head coach. They're aggressive and they're ready to win right now.”