Bears

15 on 6: Cutler has a tough challenge vs. Saints

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15 on 6: Cutler has a tough challenge vs. Saints

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011
Posted: 10:31 a.m.
By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

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.

Blitzes

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.

Bears Season in Review: Adam Shaheen

Bears Season in Review: Adam Shaheen

The Chicago Bears 2019 season was a lesson in disappointment in almost every way possible, from the quarterback to the offensive line and even the vaunted pass rush. But no position underwhelmed more than tight end, and Adam Shaheen was a big reason why.

The former second-round pick of the 2017 NFL draft failed to make any impact whatsoever. And that's not hyperbole. He appeared in just eight games, registering nine catches for 74 yards and zero touchdowns. Believe it or not, his stat line was an improvement over 2018 when he had just five catches for 48 yards in six games.

Shaheen's career narrative has been defined by injury, and it continued last season. He was placed on injured reserve in late-November with an apparent foot injury, marking the second-straight season that his year came to an early end.

It's been a remarkably disappointing career for Shaheen so far, who was viewed as a Rob Gronkowski-lite coming out of Ashland University. His jump from the small-school ranks to the NFL was expected to include a steep learning curve, but after three forgettable seasons, it's safe to say Shaheen's failed in almost every way possible.

The Bears are expected to bring Shaheen back for 2020 and he'll likely be in a training-camp battle for a roster spot. Chicago is going to add more talent to the position via either free agency or the NFL Draft and it wouldn't be a surprise if Shaheen begins the offseason schedule last on the depth chart.

It's been an unfortunate outcome for a draft pick that seemed so promising in 2017. Instead of growing into a fixture in the Bears' lineup, Shaheen will be left to fight for his NFL future this summer.

Kirk Cousins on John DeFilippo: 'He’s going to add a lot to Bears' staff'

Kirk Cousins on John DeFilippo: 'He’s going to add a lot to Bears' staff'

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins spoke with Chicago Sun-Times reporter Patrick Finley at the 2020 Pro Bowl and offered a glowing review of Bears quarterback coach, John DeFilippo, whose addition to Chicago's coaching staff is expected to bring the best out of Mitch Trubisky, the Bears' incumbent starter who's entering a make-or-break offseason with the team.

“He’ll be outstanding,” Cousins said. “He’s a great coach. He’s been around this league for a long time. I think it says a lot when someone like Matt Nagy, who knows quarterbacks so well, hires him. I think that says a lot about ‘Flip.’

“When you look at what he did with Carson Wentz as a young player, I think there’s a lot to like there. And he’s going to add a lot to that staff. It’s going to be to my detriment, because we’re in his division. But he’s a great coach.”

DeFilippo was the Eagles quarterback coach for two seasons (2016-17) and played an integral part in Wentz's development between his rookie and second seasons. Under DeFilippo's tutelage, Wentz went from a solid rookie season to an MVP-worthy campaign in 2017. It's also noteworthy that DeFilippo managed to get the best out of veteran Nick Foles, who replaced Wentz after a season-ending injury. Foles went on to enjoy a miraculous Super Bowl run.

DeFilippo certainly has his work cut out for him with Trubisky. The former second-overall pick has looked like an average starter (at best) through 41 regular-season starts and regressed mightily in 2019. Blame for his regression has been shared among the offensive line and play-calling, but he deserves much of the criticism too. His mechanics were sloppy, his accuracy was lacking and he just didn't play with the kind of downfield killer instinct Nagy wants from his starter.

Nagy's end-of-year comments about Trubisky needing to learn how to identify coverages didn't create much confidence in his near-term trajectory, either.

But that's why DeFilippo is in town. And if Cousins' comments prove to be true, then we may be on the precipice of a breakout season from Trubisky.

Or maybe DeFilippo will be the tie-breaking voice that allows the Bears to move on if Trubisky's struggles continue.