Bears

15 on 6: Cutler's consistency crucial for Bears

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15 on 6: Cutler's consistency crucial for Bears

Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010
6:23 PM

By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

Jay Cutler now has two very solid performances the last couple of weeks, and the Bears need this recent trend to continue as tough opponents await in the near future.

Specifically the New England Patriots next week at Soldier field. Before looking ahead, lets dive into Sunday's game in Detroit, as Jay subtly may have won a minor battle with Mike Martz in having more flexibility at the line of scrimmage.

Check Down Charlie

Nobody should have a problem with Jay checking down the ball to the running backs. It was the difference in the game and led to key first downs that extended drives on third down.

Chester Taylor was targeted five times and Matt Forte three times on the day, but no check down on the day was bigger than Jay finding Brandon Manumaleuna in the flat for the go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter.

These check downs speak volumes about Jay getting through his progression, or foregoing his progression due to the pass rush to find his open outlet. There were four sacks on the day given up by the offensive line, all of which were physical mistakes by the tight ends and offensive lineman, not mental mistakes which were the root of the problem earlier in the season.

When Jay started to sense the offensive line was a little overmatched by the Lions defensive line, checkdowns were the key. He anticipated and felt the pressure, then quickly found his dump off. His growth in this area has been staggering after the bye week, along with tucking and running with the ball.

Keep the pressure on the defense! That is good football and heady quarterback play by Jay.

L O S

Everyone has anguished over the Bears not audibling at the line of scrimmage, which actually contributed to some of the sack issues earlier in the year when Jay could not check out of a bad play versus a certain defense. We witnessed some flexibility against the Lions as Jay utilized the "No Look Pass" against Detroit.

The "No Look Pass" is the quarterback and receiver communicating non-verbally at the line. Run plays were called in the huddle, but Jay communicated to the receivers at the line of scrimmage with either a signal - like grabbing his facemask or just making eye contact - giving them the heads up of the "No Look" situation.

As a QB, you execute it when numbers are against you and the defense stacks the box to stop the run. This took place early and often for the Bears as their commitment to running the football continues to be impressive.

Early in the second quarter, Jay hit Earl Bennett on a "No Look" pass when Earl was in the slot and Detroit tried to fudge their defense by playing the WLB half way in the box, yet walking out somewhat on Earl in the slot. The receiver just takes two steps off the line and the QB hits him on the move quickly with a one-step drop.

Stand up and throw it! Those can be gashing type of plays and they were today for the Bears. Johnny Knox and Jay gashed Detroit in the second half with a 20-yarder in another no-look situation. Jay also utilized it against the blitz, which is encouraging.

There must have been a lot of back and forth between Jay and Mike Martz during the week in order for Mike to relent and trust Jay and the Bears' young receivers.

Another offensive performance that is encouraging and proves these Bears are capable of more, which they are going to need as they start a critical home stretch against quality AFC opponents.

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.

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via ChicagoBears.com. "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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USA Today Sports Images

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”