15 on 6: Cutler has basic fundamental breakdown


15 on 6: Cutler has basic fundamental breakdown

Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010
10:23 PM

By Jim Miller

The Bears have dropped two games at Soldier field which could have had them sitting pretty in the NFC. Their shaky offense has played better on the road than in the confines of their own home. Sunday was no exception with six turnovers, two inside the red zone that could have put the Redskins away.


It is hard to defend the indefensible. You give Jay credit for getting the ball over the goal line on the QB sneak in the third quarter. I thought it was too far out to attempt, but they may have come right back with another QB sneak, but never got that opportunity due to the fumble.

Fault the coaches for not challenging the play because that might of put the Redskins in a bind as they were already on life support. It also could have given the Bears offense the confidence it needed to get back on track for just this game.

Things are not going to change offensively until players start doing the little things. Jay's four interceptions and fumble are a good place to start. Two interceptions can be attributed to Jay's inaccuracy and two others should be placed on the receivers shoulders.

Little things matter in the NFL. You attempt to have a perfect practice during the week, working on everything from your footwork to mesh points with backs on handoffs, and the timing of the passing game.

I would like to take this opportunity to ask all Bears fans if Jay's 92-yard pick-6 in the red zone looked like the proper technique to deliver the football? Feel free to reply below.

If that is how he practiced it, then that is the result you're going to get in the game. He was fading away and did not have his feet set properly when delivering the football. Mike Martz should hammer on him so those fundamental breakdowns do not happen again. It should not be too much to ask of your 30 million starting QB to deliver the football correctly.

I do a show for Sirius NFL Rewind with Jack Arute on Sunday nights. We go over all the games in the NFL and were joined this week by Mike Pereira, who was the former head of officiating and now works for FOX.

I asked him specifically about the Jay Cutler fumble at the one-yard line. He said "the Bears coaching staff blew it."

He further added that the Bears should have never challenged the Bennett play to the one-yard line. If the Bears challenged the Cutler play, Mike said, "it was clearly a touchdown and an easy review for the officials."

All aspects of the Bears need to be reviewed, specifically, who is giving Lovie Smith faulty information when it comes to challanging plays. His record on challenges is not steller, but he is relying on others to give him the information needed to make sound decisions.

The decision to keep the red flag in his pocket cost the Bears seven points, and ultimately, the win.

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.

Bears 17-7 loss to Rams leaves character questions on top of confidence issues


Bears 17-7 loss to Rams leaves character questions on top of confidence issues

The inescapable feeling after 30 minutes of football Sunday night was that the game was over, both quantitatively and qualitatively. And really, the season, too, for that matter.

It wasn’t just that the Bears were down 10-0 to the Los Angeles Rams, or that they had been 0-4 this season when trailing at halftime. Not surprising when a team that was averaging 18 points per game (now 17), fails to gain 300 yards in nine of its 10 games, and had failed to score more than 16 in five of their first nine games, now six times in 10 games.

Sadly predictably, the Bears (4-6) could not seize a moment that the Los Angeles Rams (6-4) left lying around for them, falling 17-7 in a game in which the Bears pulled a clearly demoralized quarterback Mitch Trubisky late in the fourth quarter, reportedly because of a hip injury, and which represented a genuine chance to rejoin the NFC playoff discussion. The loss was the fifth in the Bears’ last six games.

But besides the quantitative/scoreboard heights that have lain beyond the Bears’ reach most of this season and much of the last half of 2018, “qualitative” issues were also beyond the Bears yet again.

A team that displayed a crisis of confidence over recent weeks now faces questions of character, certainly of winning character.

“I have ultimate trust in our guys,” Nagy stated. “They’re fighters… We’re just going through one of those tough deals… . I don’t ever want to question their effort.”

Sometimes it isn’t so much about effort, just not having that certain factor, that “it” factor, doing the right thing with that effort. Whether the Bears lack the talent or competitive character to win with a season on the line is difficult to determine from the outside.

But something is deeply wrong when this was the best the Bears can produce when the prize is right there in front of them.

That was disturbingly evident in the wake of last week’s win over the Detroit Lions, when coach Matt Nagy explained a risky decision to go for a fourth-down conversion as, “We needed a spark.”

That a team on the brink of a lost season “needed a spark” was concerning then. But even more so on Sunday: With the league leaving the playoff door ajar if the Bears could defeat a very beatable Los Angeles Rams team, the Bears showed nothing and delivered less.

“It’s been challenging,” Nagy said. “These close games we want to come out on top and we just haven’t done that.”

No spark. More to the point, why? Even as the Rams tried repeatedly to hand the game to the Bears with turnovers and brainless penalties; even with an impressive 80-yard touchdown drive on their first possession of the second half; even with the Rams gaining just 30 yards in the third quarter and going three-and-out on three of their first four second-half possessions...

No Bears spark enough to light a fire. All of which leaves unresolved whether the Bears actually do have that fire, and the answer has been increasingly evident over the last six games, five of which produced losses.

Blown opportunity

This game was an opportunity to draw even at 5-5, irrespective of tiebreakers, with, not one, not two, but three teams that had been ahead of them in the quest for a wild-card berth. Philadelphia came up just short against New England. Carolina was improbably crushed at home by the Atlanta Falcons. And the wobbling Rams were right there in front of the Bears for the taking.

Where there were as many as 10 teams ahead of them two weeks ago, suddenly the league was coming back to the Bears and effectively inviting them to join the party. Seattle and Minnesota still have a couple games in hand over the 5-5 crowd but the Bears, on the cusp of playoff oblivion just two weeks ago, held a large measure of their destiny in their own hands.

(And feet – the game began ominously with Eddy Pineiro missing a 48-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first Chicago possession, his fifth missed kick in 10 games. To prove that it wasn’t a fluke, Pineiro missed again later in the first quarter, from 47 yards).

The Rams did nothing less than all but hand the game to the Bears, turning the football over on a Todd Gurley fumble and Jared Goff interception, then handed the Bears a new set of downs by being offsides on a punt – all in barely the first 12 minutes.

But Piniero’s misses and a failed fourth-down conversion meant that a shaky Bears offense netted zero points out of possessions going nine, seven and 12 plays. Eventually the offense wilted, from 105 yards in the first quarter to a three-and-out and turnover in the first two possessions of the second.

What the Rams didn’t take out of the defense with a run-based offense, the offensive and special-teams failures took care of the rest. By the time Bears defenders made half-hearted efforts to stop Rams running back Malcolm Brown on a clinching five-yard TD run in the closing minutes, it was difficult to blame them.

“I thought the defense played well tonight,” Nagy said, after the defense held the Rams to 283 total yards and 3-of-10 on third downs. “We just gotta score more than seven points.”

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Bears' playoff hopes dashed in Week 11 loss to Rams, so what's next?

Bears' playoff hopes dashed in Week 11 loss to Rams, so what's next?

The Bears' 2019 season all but came to an end Sunday night after falling to the Los Angeles Rams, 17-7, in what amounted to another lackluster performance by an offense that climaxed late in the fourth quarter when Matt Nagy pulled Mitch Trubisky for Chase Daniel.

Nagy said after the game that his decision to pull Trubisky was related to a hip injury he suffered a few series earlier. But social media lit up with speculation that the Bears finally decided it was time to move on from the franchise's most costly asset.

Whether Nagy and the Bears are being honest about Trubisky's health will be revealed in time.

It seems more likely that it was injury-related considering Trubisky had one of his better performances of the season, even if his final stat line (24-of-43, 190 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) doesn't reflect it. He was victimized by several drops.

But we've been down this road before. Another loss followed by an optimistic message from Nagy about the character in the locker room and the ability to continue playing hard in a season with nothing left to play for. Nagy said the pieces are in place for the Bears to have a productive offense, but early-game failures and the inability to seize the moment -- like converting turnovers into touchdowns -- continue to haunt the team.

Sound familiar? 

At this point, it's time to look forward. With 10 games (4-6) and 11 weeks in the rear-view mirror, the roster's weaknesses have crystallized and the offseason needs have become clear. If this team really wants to be a Super Bowl contender, changes have to happen.

It starts at quarterback, where GM Ryan Pace is facing the most difficult decision of his tenure in Chicago. Trubisky is his guy, the player he hand-picked to be this franchise's Drew Brees. He hasn't shown anything on the field in his 35 regular-season starts that suggests he can be relied on as a consistent NFL starter let alone a Hall-of-Fame caliber player, so the most important responsibility Pace must meet over the next several months is to protect Chicago's championship window by adding a quality veteran quarterback who can win games.

But it doesn't end there. Chicago can't just add a stop-gap; the veteran they add has to serve as a bridge to a bright future. Maybe that's Trubisky. Maybe it's a rookie added in the second round of April's 2020 NFL draft. The bottom line is Pace can't get this wrong and he can't let his ego get in the way. He has to be honest in his evaluation of Trubisky. His career and the future of this team depend on it.

The Bears' problems aren't limited to Trubisky, though. The offense, as a whole, needs rebuilding and the most logical place to start is the offensive line. The duo of Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie have been solid in recent seasons, but as 2019 has shown, solid isn't good enough. The Bears have to consider adding a top-flight offensive tackle in free agency (if there's one available) and invest draft picks into the offensive line. No position is immune to an upgrade at this point. Pace has to hit the reset button and evaluate all five starters without being influenced by draft pedigree or contract status. 

As for the defense, the Bears don't need much of a facelift. But they do need a running mate for Khalil Mack. The pass rush has been non-existent since Akiem Hicks suffered an elbow injury in Week 5; he was placed on injured reserve shortly thereafter. Leonard Floyd has been a complete failure as a pass rusher and no other Bears defender aside from Nick Williams has had a pulse in that department since the loss of Hicks, including Mack.

Chicago mortgaged their future on Mack when they traded two first-round picks (and then some) for him at the start of the 2018 season. In order to get a maximum return on that investment, they need to provide him with some help. As much as he plays like Superman, he isn't a superhero. If the Bears don't find a way to generate pressure opposite him, he'll fail to live up to the expectations that came along with the trade.

And then there's the unavoidable problem at kicker. Eddy Pineiro is trending in the wrong direction after missing two kicks Sunday night, and while Nagy said the Bears aren't going to bring in any competition, they have to invest free-agent dollars on a proven veteran this offseason.

Sure, they tried that approach with the failed Cody Parkey transaction, but that failure can't make Pace fear a second swing. Too many points have been left on the field because of missed kicks. It's unacceptable and needs to be a priority, not a gimmicky series of tryouts.

Quarterback, offensive line, pass rusher and kicker. The Bears' season is over because of those four problem areas, and it may take more than one offseason to truly repair.

And we haven't even tapped into the coaching staff. That's for another day.