Cutler, O-Line provide pre-playoff nightmare


Cutler, O-Line provide pre-playoff nightmare

Sunday, Jan. 2, 2010
8:30 PM

By John Mullin

The offense managed just three points against a good defense but missed too many opportunities, particularly on throws by Jay Cutler. In a tight game one or two plays are the difference and the offense that made them the past couple weeks did little of that this time. The defense created chances but had a breakdown or two - too many in a game where there was no margin for error.

Quarterback D-
Cutler had one of his poorer games of the season, posting a 43.5 passer rating that was his third-worst of the year. Cutler wasted a scoring chance when he threw an interception in the third quarter, underthrowing Johnny Knox badly in a situation where anything but an underthrow was acceptable. He was sacked six times but was never in synch with the overall offense, completing 21 of 39 passes for 168 yards but taking 51 yards in sacks.

Running back B

Matt Forte breezed past 1,000 rushing yards in the first quarter with runs of 25 and 21 yards and added a 27-yard reception in the second quarter. Forte added four pass receptions in just the first half and finished with a game-high eight receptions on eight passes thrown to him. Fortes 91 rushing yards came on 15 carries for a 6.1 average. Chester Taylor had limited impact (11 yards) on his three carries.
Receivers D

Rashied Davis made something of his chances with Earl Bennett inactive, catching all four of the passes thrown to him in the first half and finishing with a career-high seven catches for 63 yards. Knox was held without a catch for the first time all season, leaving him 40 yards short of 1,000 for the year. Greg Olsen made several difficult grabs among his five catches but only Davis and Devin Hester (one) caught passes among wide receivers, who were not open often enough for Cutler to get rid of the ball with purpose.

Offensive line D

The group got Forte his 1,000 yards in the first half but struggled against an aggressive 3-4 front that blitzed and sacked Cutler six times for 51 yards in losses. Six different Packers had at least a share of a sack. The line was not able to gain any control of the line of scrimmage to the point of sustaining some offense. The Bears had 8 out of 13 possessions on which they failed to pick up a first down. LT Frank Omiyale was beaten for a blind-side sack in the second quarter but the Packers created some coverage sacks. Cutler, however, did his line no favors by not getting the ball out of his hands.

Defensive line C

Henry Melton shared a sack and provided solid pressure. Tommie Harris sack in the third quarter prevented a TD after a first-and-goal from the one and Harris added a tackle for loss and quarterback hit. But the line was credited with just two quarterback hits overall, although the Packers were limited to 2.6 yards per carry.
Linebackers B

Brian Urlacher had a half-sack in the first half and a quarterback hit. Lance Briggs was credited with nine tackles. Pisa Tinoisamoa was forced to play the full way after an injury to Nick Roach and performed well.

Secondary B

Charles Tillman intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble, the latter forced by D.J. Moore. Zackary Bowman got some playing time in the fourth quarter but was beaten for a 46-yard completion to Greg Jennings to set up a Green Bay TD. Tillman and Tim Jennings had pass deflections but Aaron Rodgers threw for 229 yards and had completions to nine different receivers.
Special teams B-

Brad Maynard put two punts out of bounds inside the Green Bay 20 and averaged 45.5 yards in difficult conditions. Robbie Gould accounted for the games first points with a 30-yard field goal. Sloppy punt coverage allowed Tramon Williams a 40-yard return to the Chicago 44 in the third quarter. Hester had punt returns of 16 and 19 yards but Danieal Manning was held to 31 total yards on two kickoff returns.

Coaching B

The Bears were ready to play in a game that meant virtually nothing beyond a tuneup by kickoff time. The defense was aggressive and disruptive and the offense produced four plays of 20-plus yards in just the first half. Execution failed in several situations and the Packers made several calls that went directly into vulnerable areas of the Bears play. But a creditable job of motivation was done in a situation where a letdown was very possible.

John "Moon" Mullin is's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

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.”