Bears

15 on 6: Cutler taking charge due to run threat

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15 on 6: Cutler taking charge due to run threat

Sunday, Nov. 29, 2010
9:28 PM

By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

The one element of Jay Cutler's game that has jumped out at me the last two ball games has been his decisiveness.

The direct correlation in committing to the run game the last four games, I believe, has benefited Jay when play action passes are called. Plenty of play action passes have been dialed up by Mike Martz during the Bears four-game winning streak. If you are averaging roughly 30 run plays in the last four games, the opponent has to respect it.

Then, when play action opportunities arise, it causes a slight hesitation by linebackers and safeties which has cleared up reads for Cutler. The windows to throw the ball into are bigger and the QB has felt confident in what he is seeing to pull the trigger.

Awareness

Cutler has also been decisive in tucking the ball and running as well, which stresses out a defense. Normally the QB is the unaccounted man when it comes to running the football, but Cutler is quickly becoming a running threat defenses have to defend, much like the Bears defense had to account for Michael Vick Sunday.

Cutler has been uncanny in his awareness and ability to feel pressure and find the escape route out of the pocket. Most quarterbacks struggle with this element of the position because it really is a sixth sense of the game. I do not want you to recall the days of Rex Grossman, but he never had this type of feel at the position.

Do not compound the problem

Another area of awareness and good decision making displayed by Cutler on Sunday was not compounding the issues early by the offensive line.

The Bears gave up four sacks in the first half, which makes it is easy for a QB to panic or force a throw due to the pressure. Nobody likes negative plays, especially sacks where your quarterback is taking a shot, but Cutler took his medicine against the Eagles.

It is never the worst thing in the world to punt the football and allow your stellar defense to get back on the field. Cutler weighed the risk against the rewards and trusted the offensive line would sort it out in the second half.

Earlier in the year, Cutler panicked and threw costly interceptions when protection broke down (at New York Giants, vs. Washington). Now he is tucking and running or taking the negative play. He could always take it a step further and just throw the ball away when he knows there is not a fighting chance.

Overall, Cutler has been much better with his decisions in these last four games. He was exceptional today, completing 14 of 21 passes for 247 yards, with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Just clear up the sacks, because the last thing the Bears need is for Cutler to go down with an injury when everything is clicking offensively.

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.

Matt Nagy says Mitch Trubisky's Week 7 struggles due to poor footwork

Matt Nagy says Mitch Trubisky's Week 7 struggles due to poor footwork

Fundamentals can often make or break a quarterback's career. For the Bears third-year signal-caller, Mitch Trubisky, he's struggling with one of the most important aspects of quarterback play: footwork.

Coach Matt Nagy met with the media at Halas Hall on Monday and confirmed most of Trubisky's struggles in the Bears' 36-25 loss to the Saints in Week 7 were the result of sloppy footwork.

"The No. 1 thing I came away from was footwork. I thought footwork was just OK. And then the footwork leads to a little bit of better decisions/accuracy with throws. There was some times where there were some backpedals or movement in the pocket could've been a little better or different.

"You look at the one throw on 3rd-and-five, the second possession of the game, he's hit that all week and missed that, that was the start, and then there was a few others one. The other one that I thought was a bigger error by (Trubisky) at that position was we had a 1st-and-10 at the 24-yard line going in and we took a sack for eight yards and that was an RPO. That's a learning tool for him. Hey, we call a run-pass option and we're just a little bit off in our progression on that play and we ended up losing eight yards. Now it's 2nd-and-18, now you're back to 3rd-and-14 and we have and incomplete pass and we gotta grind to make three points.

"For me, playing the position, when you have sloppy footwork, it can lead to other issues. And I think that's what we saw."

Trubisky ended the game completing 34-of-54 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns, but most of those stats were accumulated during garbage time, which Nagy dismissed as irrelevant. It's obvious Nagy is being careful with his words and, somehow, is still putting a positive spin on some pretty harsh criticism of Trubisky. 

If a quarterback is feeling the pass rush and dropping his eyes too early, which Nagy suggested is happening with Trubisky, and their footwork and accuracy are sloppy and inconsistent, the likely end result is a switch at the position. That isn't going to happen in Chicago, but it's Nagy's honest assessment of Trubisky's play on Sunday is at least a sign (even if it wasn't as harsh as it could've been) that the protective gloves will soon come off.

We just aren't 100% there yet.

"The growth of this offense needs to be better," Nagy said. "That territory, that position (quarterback), it always starts there. It always does. What I have to remind everybody else is there's other parts to this system. It's not just the quarterback play. I think we know what those other parts are that we need to play better at. Collectively, not just at the quarterback position, we need to be a little better." 

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How worried should the Bears be about Mitch Trubisky?

How worried should the Bears be about Mitch Trubisky?

Few positions in sports have the kind of expectations that come along with being a quarterback who's selected in the first round. Those expectations are elevated the higher a quarterback is selected in the first round, so in the case of Mitchell Trubsisky, who the Bears traded up to the second overall pick to select in 2017, it's safe to say failure is not an option for No. 10.

Unfortunately, Trubisky hasn't had much success in more than two seasons and 31 starts as a Bear. He bottomed out against the Saints in Sunday's 36-25 loss when he looked more like an undrafted free agent than a blue-chip first-rounder. His completions were a collection of meaningless dinks and dunks, and whenever he did take a shot downfield, his passes sailed off target and, in some instances, dangerously close to being intercepted.

It was bad. And what's worse? There's no indication that it will get better any time soon. Trubisky hasn't had that 'wow' moment in 2019, sans the 36-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Gabriel in Week 3, to suggest he's even capable of being an average starter in the NFL. It's true quarterbacks take time to develop, and it would be foolish for the Bears to move on from Trubisky with 10 games of evaluation remaining on their schedule, but it certainly feels like GM Ryan Pace is staring down an offseason that will require adding a quarterback in free agency or the NFL draft.

It would be negligent for Pace to ignore the position after what we've seen in 2019. Even if Trubisky has a strong finish to the season, the Bears need a better backup plan than Chase Daniel, who coach Matt Nagy said he never considered playing Sunday despite Trubisky's struggles. Maybe, if Chicago had a quarterback with more upside behind Trubisky, Nagy would've made the switch. This offense needs that flexibility moving forward, even if that means Trubisky moves to QB2 to begin 2020.

The quarterback situation is bad; maybe as bad as it was before Jay Cutler arrived in Chicago in 2009. According to the Athletic's NFL Panic index, it's downright awful.

Trubisky’s deficiencies, and the Bears’ fundamental offensive issues, were even more glaring against the Saints, a team that still has creative offensive play design (hello, fullback option with No. 3 quarterback Taysom Hill) and explosive plays without Drew Brees and other key offensive players, like running back Alvin Kamara and tight end Jared Cook. No, this is the quarterback the Bears picked and the head coach and play caller, Matt Nagy, they picked to develop him. And yet, the Bears, Trubisky and the offense are worse now than they were a year ago.

The swell of doubt around Trubisky and the Bears offense will only continue growing as this disappointing season marches on. Chicago faces the struggling Chargers in Week 8 and should (emphasis on should) be able to get back on a winning track. But they have to do it with some big plays on offense that are the result of a young quarterback who's ready to put this team on his back. Otherwise, it'll soon be time to scout next year's crop of NFL draft hopefuls.

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