Bears

15 on 6: Cutler starting to shine in Martz's offense

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15 on 6: Cutler starting to shine in Martz's offense

Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011
Posted: 9:30 p.m.
By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

I think it is only appropriate to start this year's blog commenting on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks of 2001. As you may or may not know, I was with the Bears during that time and was stunned like all of us. I never thought I would witness our country being attacked in my lifetime. We had a bye week before playing Atlanta on the road.

We tried to practice that week, but it was worthless. I remember coaches and players were just looking at each other out on the practice field thinking, "What are we doing here." We wanted to be glued to the television like everyone else for any new information. Coach Dick Jauron pretty much cut every practice short that week, knowing what was more important. I think everyone at the Bears facility went home that weekend with some form of soul searching on their mind.

Everyone must have dug deep because I remember coming back and every one was inspired to play football. Almost like WWI or WWII, where volunteers helped the military in any capacity they could, I think we were just inspired to do our part. Maybe give the country a four hour window to take their minds away from some serious pain. Start the healing process somewhat. I know it did for me. It was a very emotional time for everybody in this country because it affected everybody. It still does today. The tragic events have altered the way we live and affected our freedom that we cherish so dearly. May those who perished Rest in Peace and God Bless.

Many have wondered, how it would affect the performances of the games today? Although it's still emotional, I think a lot of players reflected and took a moment to pause to pay their respects well before the game started. I know that's what I did before we lined up to play Atlanta after the bye week. We were focused to give the fans a show and win the game. But I was never more proud when, before the game, the Military men and woman rolled out the American Flag. It was the full length of the field. It was the loudest I had ever heard the "National Anthem" performed. Ever! There was not one person in the whole Georgia Dome who did not participate. It still gives me goose bumps and was truly awesome!

Defense Dominates the Day

I worried about the Bears ability to score points coming into the 2011 Lockout season. The organization traded away their "Redzone" TD maker in TE Greg Olsen to the Panthers. Plus, with the new "Kickoff rule", it remains to be seen how it will punish the Bears. A lot of money has been invested into the return units and a simple rule affects about 30 of their scoring. It means that production has to be made up elsewhere. I still am trying to sort out myself where the production comes from within this roster. Here are my thoughts:

Kellen Davis - Is big, strong, and fast. He's not the best route runner but could be an option. Jay Cutler missed him today on a TE throwback screen that would have been a walk to the endzone.

Roy Williams - His size suggests he is a "Redzone" target, but he's not in shape, drops too many balls, and pulled a groin today which could keep him out awhile. Tony Romo never developed a rapport with him and I don't think Jay has yet.

Marion Barber - We have to see how the line settles in for Barber to be a "Goal Line" option pounding it up in there. Plus he's out with a calf injury.

Long screen passes for TD's like today, will not be the norm. The Bear's were 12 in the "Redzone." They only got down there twice and had to settle for FG's when they crossed the 50 on three occasions. It's pride, the offense doesn't want to rely on the defense to score. There will be games this year where the Bears' offense will have to come through consistently. It could be asked to do it as early as next week versus the Saints. Why not now?

I thought Cutler had an outstanding game. He looks more confident in year two of Martz's offense. He looked comfortable going through his reads quickly and was terrific in locating check down receivers when the pocket collapsed. He missed the TE throwback to Davis which would have made it a three touchdown day. I also thought he motivated his teammates. Jay was giving high fives and pats of encouragement. He was having fun winning, which is what it's all about.

Check in during the week as I'll get into what Jay needs to do to be ready for the Saints.

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.

Olin Kreutz to join NBC Sports Chicago's Bears coverage team

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AP

Olin Kreutz to join NBC Sports Chicago's Bears coverage team

Chicago, IL (August 20, 2019) – NBC Sports Chicago - THE Home of the #AuthenticFan - has announced Chicago Bears legend/six-time Pro Bowl center OLIN KREUTZ will be joining the network as a game day studio analyst for the upcoming 2019 NFL season. In addition to his game day analyst role, which includes joining former Bears teammates Lance Briggs, Alex Brown, Matt Forte, and host Laurence Holmes on Football Aftershow presented by Sprinkler Fitters Local Union 281 immediately following every Bears game, Kreutz is also scheduled to make additional appearances throughout the NFL season on a variety of NBC Sports Chicago’s programs and cross-platform content offerings.

“I’m happy to be joining the NBC Sports Chicago family and look forward to be working alongside Laurence and, of course, my former teammates, Lance, Alex and Matt,” said Kreutz.

“Olin has established himself as one of the very best NFL analysts in the city and we couldn’t be more pleased to have him join our expert Bears game day coverage team beginning this season,” added Kevin Cross, Senior Vice President/General Manager, NBC Sports Chicago.  “The addition of Olin showcases our year-round commitment to deliver the very best Bears coverage to our dedicated, multi-platform viewing audience.”

Kreutz, a third-round pick out of Washington in the 1998 NFL Draft (64th overall), spent 13 of his 14 pro seasons in a Bears uniform and is tied for second with Steve McMichael on the team’s all-time games played list (191), trailing only former Bears teammate Patrick Mannelly (245).  In addition, Kreutz trails only Walter Payton by one game on the team’s all-time games started list with 183.  Among Kreutz’ honors in his illustrious Bears career include six Pro Bowl appearances (2001-06), first-team (2006) and second-team (2005) All-Pro selections, being named to the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team, along with being honored as a four-time recipient of the prestigious “Brian Piccolo Award” (2003, 2004, 2009, 2010).

Q&A with Bears DC Chuck Pagano, on staying a life course and how the burden of proof is on him with Bears “D”

Q&A with Bears DC Chuck Pagano, on staying a life course and how the burden of proof is on him with Bears “D”

Chuck Pagano’s battle with leukemia that began in 2012 changed him, as any personal cataclysm would a person. But in many ways, the important ways, it didn’t.

The Bears defensive coordinator, who this week returns to Indianapolis where he coached the Colts to a 53-43 record and three playoff appearances between 2012-17, experienced the changes in perspectives that accompanied the cancer fight, which began not long after he’d landed his dream job of being an NFL head coach, with the Colts in 2012. His on- and off-field perspectives have already registered with members of the NFL-leading defense that he inherits from former coordinator Vic Fangio, who left to become head coach of the Denver Broncos.

“You can tell [Pagano] is seasoned in the game,” said linebacker Khalil Mack. “He knows everything. There are different intangibles that he has brought that I had never even thought about when it comes to football.”

With few exceptions, teams associated with Pagano have consistently risen to be among the elites. Pagano broke into NFL coaching with stints in Cleveland and Oakland before joining the Baltimore Ravens in 2008, where he reunited with defensive greats Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, Pagano had worked with both while an assistant at the University of Miami, with the Hurricanes winning bowl games four of Pagano’s final five years there (1996-2000).

The Ravens reached the postseason and won at least one playoff game in all four of Pagano’s years there (2008-11). The Colts went to the postseason in Pagano’s first three seasons (2012-14), winning first-round games in ’12 and ’14 and losing only to eventual Super Bowl winners (Baltimore, New England).

In between those first two Indianapolis seasons was the 2013 postseason in which Pagano’s Colts overcame a 28-point deficit in the second half to win a divisional-round game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Pagano’s defense allowed just two field goals over the final six possessions for Kansas City and first-time quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy.

When injuries cost Pagano quarterback Andrew Luck for 10 of 32 games in 2016-17, the Colts missed the playoffs with consecutive 8-8 seasons. Luck then missed all of 2018, the Colts finished 4-12 and Pagano was fired from what had been his dream job, which he said left him overall “better, not bitter.”

Pagano, 58, spent 2018 as a “gap” year, as a consultant for NFL officials and SVP of officiating Al Riveron. When Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio left to become head coach of the Denver Broncos, the Bears called and Pagano was hired Jan. 11, 2019. And as for yearning to return as a head coach, “I'm not,” he said. “I've done it.”

Pagano talked with NBC Sports Chicago’s Bears columnist John “Moon” Mullin about the job he has come into, including the somewhat unusual situation of a coach needing to prove himself to players instead of vice versa.

NBCSC:  Did the experience of dealing with the cancer change you as a coach, how you just went about your day-to-day job? Or did it have any effect?

CP:  The day-to-day grind, not really. I think anytime you go through something like that, it makes lifestyle changes. You can’t change the grind of the National Football League, the hours, expectations, pressures.

But from a perspective standpoint, I’ve never really taken anything for granted. I’ve always been grateful for everything that’s come my way, family-wise, professionally, all that stuff. From a perspective standpoint it did put things in line for me as far as the pressures and expectations of the job. Those things I’ve tried to share with the team.

NBCSC:  From their different comments to myself and others, it’s very clear that players are indeed listening, both football-wise and beyond.

CP:  We all know what we sign up for when we take these jobs, whether you play or coach in the National Football League. The expectations are always going to be there.

But there’s real-life stuff out there, as we all know. It’s going on. And it’s a privilege to coach or play in this league, and that’s kept me grounded and put things in perspective. It made it a little easier to deal with some of the other things that come your way on the coaching side of it.

NBCSC:  Did all of it ever cause you to think about giving it all up and moving on?

CP:  No. No. I’d just landed the dream job [in Indianapolis] and all of a sudden got hit with the [cancer] setback. So it became my vision to beat cancer and be around for a long time with my wife, kids and grandkids, and to get back to the job I’d just taken five or six months prior.

NBCSC:  After leaving Indianapolis, you spent last year as a consultant for the league. What was that like for you?

CP:  I did some things with the officials, Al Riveron and those guys. I really enjoyed it, to tell the truth. It was my football ‘fix.’ Anytime you coach for 33, 34 years and then you all of a sudden don’t have it, nothing to do in the Fall, it was my football ‘fix’ to have the ability to be around the game in some capacity. It wasn’t coaching but I was able to watch a bunch of tape on all the games, and to learn the roles and how difficult the officiating part is.

Everybody’s got really tough jobs. You get a great appreciation for the jobs those guys have to do. It helped me understand the rules a little bit better, especially replay and all that kind of stuff. So it was good for me.

NBCSC:  And it’ll make you nicer to officials now, right?

CP:  [Laughs] Yeah, they deserve it. It’s a tough gig they’ve got.”

NBCSC:  Players always have to prove themselves to the coach. Coming into this team, this defense, do you have a feeling coming into a unit like this, that it was a little of the opposite, that you have to prove yourself to the players?

CP:  No doubt about it. There’s going to be high expectations for anybody coming into this. But absolutely. And I have great respect for coach Fangio. I’ve known Vic for a long time and he’s done a phenomenal job for a long time, calling defenses, building this defense, working with coach Nagy.

But anytime you come in, you’ve got to look at, ‘Here’s what the expectations are and I’ve gotta prove myself.’ I think it’s a challenge we all face and address and embrace. It’s not the thing that keeps you up at night, but I understand what the expectations are.

And we’ve got a bunch of really good football players and assistant coaches, and if we keep working like we’ve been working, get lucky and stay healthy, things’ll work out.

NBCSC:  How did coming to the Bears feel compared to when you went into Baltimore, as DB coach? There you knew Ray [Lewis] and Ed [Reed] from ‘The U’ [Miami], but here you don’t know the guys. Easier to go into that group, vs. now coming in as the D-coordinator, the top guy?

CP:  Going into that situation with coach [John] Harbaugh back in 2008, I did know Ed from coaching him in college, plus Samari Rolle, Chris McAlister. They had a bunch of great players on that entire defense on the back end.

Coming into that situation, I did have to earn the trust and respect of that unit, just like I do now. It’s what you do day in and day out. Talk is cheap unless you walk the walk, unless you earn their respect and trust, build relationships. They’re looking to see, ‘OK, can this guy help me? Help me get to that next contract, get to a championship level?’ whatever the question may be.

It’s definitely a process. I had to do it in Baltimore at the highest level and it’s no different here. You’ve gotta earn their respect, earn their trust.