Bears

Cutler Responds to Criticism with Performance

Cutler Responds to Criticism with Performance

Monday, December 29th
I think everyone was surprised of the fight left in the Chicago Bears last night. Others, may conclude the victory over the Vikings is just another glaring example of how underachieving the Bears have been in 2009. In either case, this Bears roster showed the ability to respond under pressure circumstances during the week with the help of some new faces who competed extremely hard for not only themselves, but also their head coach.

Credit Jay Cutler

Much has been dumped on Jay's shoulders for the Bears failures this season and rightfully so. It could have been easy for him to curl up in the fetal position and call it a season versus the Vikings. But, that is what losers do! Quarterbacks, more than any other position in the NFL, need to come off poor performances, like what Jay experienced in Baltimore last week, with their best game. Kurt Warner, of the Arizona Cardinals, has had four poor performances this season. All of them were multi-turnover games that resulted in a Cardinal loss. He answered the bell after every one with a 300 yard multi-touchdown performance, while leading the team to victory. Arizona has not lost two in a row all year. Much of Arizona's success can be attributed to Kurt Warner and his ability to respond even though his team has not run the football well all year. It is what competitorswinners do. They respond when it matters the most. Jay has that ability and with more "comfortabilty" within the Bears offensive system, more consistency and winning should be the end result. Performances like the four touchdown outburst we witnessed last night will be the norm. That is the big if! Everyone assumes changes will be made. Only Jerry and Lovie can weigh the pros and cons of bringing in a new offensive coordinator. Do you make change for change sake? It was only 2005 when Ron Turner's offense was lighting up the NFL and Rex Grossman was being talked about for NFL MVP. Change would bring Jay his third new offense in three years. It is a tough call because I would like to see Jay settle in for a second year under Ron Turner and see what he is capable of doing. I would like to see a new buffer as a QB coach, someone who is very demanding of Jay.

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

While the Bears praised Mitchell Trubisky’s operation of a controlled gameplan in his second NFL start, they’re not losing sight of the special kind of athleticism and playmaking ability the rookie quarterback possesses. Two plays in particular stand out — plays that led to anywhere from a five-to-10 point swing in the game. 

Trubisky’s 18-yard third down completion to Kendall Wright in overtime seems to looks better every time you watch it on film. Trubisky was pressured by two Baltimore Ravens pass rushers, but managed to wriggle free and slide to his right, only to find linebacker C.J. Mosley waiting in front of him. The blend of athleticism and aggressiveness Trubisky displayed in firing high over the middle toward Wright — who made a specular play of his own — is one of the many reasons why the Bears are so excited about him. 

“To be able to throw that ball with both hands in the air and changing your arm angle – that’s why you draft a kid second,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “Because of things like that.”

But there was another instinctual, athletic play Trubisky made that was just as impressive, and just as important. Cody Whitehair’s snapping issues cropped up at the Bears’ 13-yard line, with the center sailing a snap over Trubisky’s head and toward the end zone. 

If Baltimore recovered that ball, it would’ve tied the game; had Trubisky simply fell on the ball, it very well could’ve led to a safety that would’ve brought the Ravens within five points about a minute after the Bears took a 17-3 lead. Instead, Trubisky picked up the ball, scrambled to his right and threw the ball away — one of six throwaways he had on Sunday. 

“(That) was a critical, critical play at that time,” Loggains said. 

This isn't to say that two plays — only one of which gained yards — are enough to say the Bears' offense is in a good place. It's still a group that necessitates a controlled gameplan, similar to the one they used with Mike Glennon. But the difference: Trubisky can make plays. 

Briefly, on Whitehair

Since we’re on the subject of another poor snap by Whitehair, here’s what Loggains had to say on that topic: 

“He’s gotten better. We still had one too many. The thing and point I want to make with Cody Whitehair is, obviously wants to talk about the snap, but you’re talking about two weeks in a row of completely dominating. We’re an outside zone team that ran 25 snaps of inside zone because of what they were playing. It changed our game plan and Cody’s a big part of that. The last two weeks we’ve been able to move those guys inside. He’s a really good football player. 

“We’re going to battle through these snap issues. We’re cutting them down. He’s more accurate. He did have the one that obviously is unacceptable and no one owns that more than Cody Whitehair does. But he is a really good football player and let’s not lose sight of the 79 snaps where he really helped the team run the football and you can’t do that without a Cody Whitehair at center.”

Loggains has a point here — if Whitehair were struggling in the run game, against the defensive looks the Ravens were showing, the Bears wouldn’t have been able to run the ball 50 times with the kind of success they had. But the poor snaps nonetheless are ugly and have to be eliminated — imagine the uproar over them if Trubisky didn’t make that play in Baltimore. The Bears' offense won't always be good enough to overcome those kind of self-inflicted mistakes. 

Loggains and coach John Fox have praised Whitehair’s attention to the problem, and as long as Hroniss Grasu is still limited with a hand injury, Whitehair will have some time to work through these issues. One final thought: Who would’ve expected, back in May, that Whitehair would have the problems with snaps, and not Trubisky? 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What are Bears' chances against Panthers?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: What are Bears' chances against Panthers?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Laurence Holmes (670 The Score) and Phil Rogers (MLB.com) join Kap on the panel.

The crew discusses Bobby Portis’ suspension, Edzo’s return to the booth and the Bears' chances against the Panthers. 

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: