Bears

15 on 6: Painfully obvious offensive problems

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15 on 6: Painfully obvious offensive problems

Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011
Posted: 10:15 p.m.
By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

I think it was pretty clear watching the Bears fall to the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers, 27-17, that there is a huge difference between the two offenses.

Green Bay displayed timing, precision and came into the game with a plan to execute. The Bears offense looked like a mixed bag of play calls, as if they were playing in a preseason game.

I don't think anyone should condemn the Bears' gameplan for throwing. They were not going to be able to run on Green Bay. But who were they attacking, isolating or trying to match up against?

With all the dropped balls, it's as if some Bears receivers did not even expect the ball to come their way. Here are a couple of examples of very good Packers game plan:

1. Look at the play-by-play in the game book. Aaron Rodgers lined up in shotgun for six of their first 10 plays and peppered the Bears with short, precise passes. The last play of the opening drive was the quick out to Jermichael Finley for the touchdown. Green Bay came into Soldier Field with a plan to soften up the Bears defense and expand it in order to get their running game going. They stayed in shotgun for two more series, until seeing the Bears adjust.

2. Sticking with the same personnel groupings, Green Bay went to the ground game with Rodgers under center for their "check with me package." The result: another Finley TD.

3. The Packers went back to the top of the script that started the game from the shotgun.

Finley finished the game with eight catches, 85 yards and three TD's. If you can remember Finley's last touchdown, which was a "Nod route" where he faked a quick out then turned up the seam, it was called by Mike McCarthy to specifically attack the Bears "Tampa Two" Defense. The timing of the play call was beautiful because it was set up throughout the game when Finley was repeatedly hit on the quick out.

McCarthy also came into the game knowing he would "flex out" Finley several times outside the other receivers to see how the Bears would match up. The Bears put safety Craig Steltz on him early, but quickly learned their lesson after a couple of big gainers. Everything McCarthy called was with a purpose. I'm not saying the Bears did not do this at all, but they looked limited.

About the only isolation plays I witnessed was the out-and-up interception intended for Roy Williams, a fake wide receiver screen to Johnny Knox an "Empty Set" to get Matt Forte on Green Bay's linebackers.

Two of those three are trick plays and a fudged "Wildcat" play was another. So now, basically three of four plays calls all backfired by lack of execution. This is why they are trick plays, they are not your base offense and are not practiced regularly.

The Bears struggle to execute their base passing attack so why take calculus when you haven't mastered algebra? It's frustrating because the timing and precision is nowhere near where it needs to be for the Bears.
"The Bears struggle to execute their base passing attack so why take calculus when you haven't mastered algebra?-- Jim Miller.
When Rodgers drops back and hits his back step, the ball is out! He knows his receiver is coming out of his break and where the ball is going. Conversely, Jay Cutler was waiting at the top of his drop, pumping the ball, unsure how routes were going to unfold.

To me, this was pretty obvious to see. The best example was the pump fake "out and go" to Williams that was intercepted early in the game. If you watch the play again, one, it was a terrible route by Roy, and two, the pump fake did not even marry up with Roy's route. Jay was late on the throw because he clutched the ball again before he threw it.

It was bad football and not what anyone is looking for at Halas Hall. Lovie Smith will demand execution of the basics, and has to for the offense to get going. They must plan with a purpose, practice with a purpose and play with a purpose.

The Bears aren't getting anything out of their offense right now and are still good enough to win. That is incredible when you think about it.

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 CSNChicago.com and can be followed on Twitter @15miller.

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.