Bears

15 on 6: Cutler's worst performance to date

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15 on 6: Cutler's worst performance to date

Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010
7:03 PM
By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

Lethargic.

That's how I would classify how Jay Cutler looked in Sunday's loss to Seattle.

He was slow on his reads, if he knew them at all. I can point to several individual plays where his decision making alone would have moved the chains, thus putting the Bears in position to win. This is on top of the missed blocking assignments, missed hot reads and no commitment to the running game.

As always, the Bears get another break with Green Bay losing Sunday and Minnesota still on life support. Jay is too good a quarterback for these things to happen.

It is gut-check time.

I wrote in my last blog what Jay needed to do coming off injury. He needed to cross the bridge of getting hit, settle in and get mentally focused. It never materialized. He did get hit early, but missed several reads to get something going offensively.

In the fourth series of the game, Jay missed an easy dump off to the running back when the Bears were backed up in a field position battle. Jay, instead, elects to throw the deep curl route into three defenders on 2nd-and-10 that nearly got picked off. Chester Taylor is wide open in the flat off of "Chili 137" protection (fake the outside zone run, the running back looks to block WLB, if he's not there, he leaks to the flat). Missing his third read in the route tells me Jay was not mentally into it and definitely not seeing the field.

How many times do we talk about situational play? It is everything in the NFL. If you hit the wide open running back, you are in a minimum 3rd-and-5 situation, not third-and-10. Knowing what I know about Taylor, he makes a tackler miss for another two or three yards minimum. You have now dug your team out of a hole and even if you do not convert the third-and-short, Brad Maynard is not punting out of his own end zone.

Nothing wrong with playing the field position battle. Another example of Jay not knowing his assignment was on "Flanker Drive" (I broke this play down last year in this Blog if you need reference). Jay's missed read of Devin Hester, who is the No. 1 read and wide open on third-and-short leads to the missed 54-yard field goal. The score is 23-13 at the time. Think about it, the final score is 23-20. If Jay hits Devin, they move the chains and even if the drive does not conclude with a touchdown, Robbie is not sweating making 54-yarders. Give your team a chance, thinking the game allows you to play the game with confidence. That was bad football and Jay is better than that.

CEO

As the starting QB of your football team, you are the chief executive officer. If guys do not know their assignments, you tell them. When you are unsure yourself, there is a problem. Jay looked unsure of his own responsibilities Sunday, let alone everyone else's.

Jay needs to know future game plans inside and out. It is why Peyton Manning and Tom Brady never look panicked -- they are prepared for everything their opponent is doing or what they could do -- they have an answer, so there is no reason to panic.

This was Jay's worst performance to date and he is coming off injury. There are many challenges to learning a new offense, but he's the guy who needs to dig deeper.

I am concerned going into this weeks game against Washington because if Jay could not sort out Seattle's "Tampa 2" defense with added wrinkles, Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will be licking his chops.

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.

Is Jordan Howard underrated in fantasy football?

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USA Today

Is Jordan Howard underrated in fantasy football?

Jordan Howard has accomplished some pretty amazing things to start his career. Most notably, he's the only running back in Chicago Bears franchise history to finish his first two seasons with more than 1,000 rushing yards, including 1,313 yards as a rookie, good for a team rookie record.

Still, Howard has been the target of criticism this offseason because of his questionable set of hands. He was plagued by a case of the drops last season and he's been labeled as a guy who can't catch the ball heading into 2018. Combine that with the player nipping at his heels -- Tarik Cohen -- and the overwhelming theory advanced by analysts is that he'll give way to Cohen on passing downs.

This presumption has made its way into the world of fantasy football, too. Howard is rarely if ever mentioned as one of the first running backs that should be drafted this summer and in a recent player vs. player showdown on Pro Football Focus, 49ers starter Jerick McKinnon was selected as a more appealing fantasy starter in 2018.

It’s close, but I give the nod to Jerick McKinnon. Howard’s troubles in the passing game are very real and it’s clear the Bears want to focus on that more this year. Meanwhile, McKinnon was handed a fat contract and has little competition when it comes to carries.

McKinnon, a career backup, was signed by San Franciso to be Kyle Shanahan's feature running back. He has a real chance to be a stud in fantasy circles, but should he be valued over a guy like Howard who's proven to be a contender for the NFL's rushing crown?

All of this offseason chatter will serve as great motivation for Howard who has to prove, first and foremost, that he can be a three-down back for coach Matt Nagy in the Bears' new offense. If he has a consistent training camp as a receiver and carries that momentum into the preseason and regular season, those fantasy players who draft McKinnon or another less-proven player over Howard will long for a redo.

15 Most Important Bears of 2018: No. 8 - Eddie Goldman

15 Most Important Bears of 2018: No. 8 - Eddie Goldman

Eddie Goldman is entering the final year of his contract this season and in order to cash in on a big payday, he'll need to stay healthy and make good on his top-tier potential. 

If he does, he'll become a very wealthy man and the Bears defense will have an even better year than its top-10 finish a season ago.

Goldman, 24, came to Chicago via the second round of the 2015 NFL draft and quickly became a household name among Bears fans. He started 12 games that season and finished with a surprising 4 1/2 sacks, a total that was more productive than his college scouting report predicted. He was pegged as a breakout star for 2016, but injuries ultimately derailed his second season. He played only six games that year (started five) but still flashed a surprisingly productive set of pass-rush traits; he finished 2016 with 2 1/2 sacks.

This past season represented something of a mixed bag for Goldman. He started 15 games and quieted some of the injury concerns that started bubbling around him, but his production dipped. He managed only 1 1/2 sacks. That said, he set a career-high with 27 tackles, nearly doubling his output as a rookie.

Still, Goldman wasn't a dominant force in 2017. He finished the year ranked 69th among interior defenders with a 76.3 grade from Pro Football Focus. Despite being healthy and available, it was the lowest season grade of his career from PFF.

Nose tackle is arguably the most critical position for any defense running a 3-4 scheme. It's no exception in Chicago. Goldman will set the table for linebackers Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith and the more bodies he can consume or attention he can draw from offensive lines, the more room second-level defenders will have to work. It's not just about filling up the stat sheet for Goldman. If he clogs running lanes and collapses the pocket consistently, he'll be worth every penny of a big contract extension despite lacking numbers.

The Bears need Goldman to bring his A-game in 2018, especially as a pass rusher. Chicago resides in arguably the most talented quarterback division in the NFL and for the defense to make those quarterbacks uncomfortable, Goldman has to apply pressure up the middle. He's proven he can do it, as evidenced by his rookie year production. But he's been on a steady decline in this area of his game since then and there's no room for more regression in 2018.

Players entering contract years tend to bring extra motivation to the field and there's no reason to expect anything less from Goldman. If he can combine his rookie year production with last season's availability, he could end up with the most well-rounded year of his career en route to leading the Bears' defensive line on a late-season playoff push.