Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011
Posted: 10:31 a.m.
By Jim Miller
It's never easy facing a team that just got rocked the week prior. That's exactly what happened to the New Orleans Saints defense in their opener against the Green Bay Packers. The Saints defense gave up 42 points. It is not something defensive coordinator Gregg Williams places at the top of his resume when trying to get another head coaching job.
Williams has always been extremely aggressive with multiple looks and blitzes to destroy your pass protections. His goal is to hurt you. Remember his quote before the 2009 Championship game against the Vikings: "Remember my shots." It drew the ire of many that he would say something so brazen when facing Brett Favre, but it's football and he wants every quarterback to remember. He did it to me when I was with the Bears and played a Williams-coached team in the Washington Redskins. I never got hit more consistently than in that game, which we won on the road.
The point is, first and foremost, Jay Cutler has to be tough. He has proven his toughness over and over again even though some questioned it in the NFC Championship game one year ago. Cutler heads to New Orleans knowing he's going to get tagged. It's just a fact of life playing a perturbed Saint defense and Williams.
The Saints will make their corrections and will be much better in Week 2. They will also be prepared for the Bears' screen and draw game utilized Week 1 against the Falcons. A slow running back screen resulted in a 53-yard touchdown to Matt Forte and a wide receiver screen to Devin Hester set up another Bears touchdown. Screens and draws are called to take the heat off the quarterback and slow a defense down. Keep them honest, so to speak. But despite all the screens and draws called by offensive coordinator Mike Martz, Cutler was still sacked five times. Williams is not about to allow Cutler to hit a one-yard pass and have it go the distance for a score. Instead, he will play bump and run coverage forcing Cutler to be accurate passing and throwing down the field.
Cutler was successful late last year against blitzes with no-look passes and signaling routes to his receivers. It is something he successfully politicked to Martz. Remember, Martz is not a big audible guy. He just calls a play for what he expects to see. The issue is, what if he's wrong?
As a quarterback, you would like the ability to put the offense in a better positive play against what you're presented defensively. A happy medium was reached for both with the no look passes allowing Cutler to manipulate bad looks defensively. He must be on point when he takes advantage of these opportunities against the Saints. He can save his body from the aforementioned "remember my shots." It will also stop any leaks in the dyke concerning his offensive line. The Bears' tackles are young. They are not experienced enough to understand all the looks Williams will expose to them. I have a feeling these young Bears tackles are about to get an indoctrination in overload blitzes over the C-gap where offensive tackles are susceptible.
Green Bay executed a "No Huddle" offense early against the Saints. It was very effective in minimizing blitzes and also wore the Saints out. The problem is, it's always difficult to execute a "No Huddle" offense on the road. Communication is always difficult due to crowd noise and the "Dome Patrol" crowd will be in full force at the Louisiana Superdome. I would like the Bears to utilize this option, but Lovie Smith may want to rely on his defense which continues to get turnovers. Coaching wise, Smith will worry about going to the Saints' home and having unforced errors due to communication issues, which are avoidable by simply not putting that option on the table. Remember, the Bears' young offensive tackles have enough to worry about. It is understandable for Smith to put it on Cutler's experience to manage blitzes with the no-look passes. Smith also understands ball control is imperative against the Saints. Huddling takes more time off the clock and minimizes offensive opportunities for Drew Brees.
If Cutler is tough, hits down field throws, manages looks and gets some support from the run game to keep Brees off the field, the Bears will return victors. Easier for me to write than to execute.
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.