Bears

15 on 6: Run game provides a great victory

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15 on 6: Run game provides a great victory

Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011Posted: 6:30 p.m.

By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

I warned everyone about being a little nervous facing the Carolina Panthers. Now you know why. Carolina has a different type of offense that did get physical with the Bears, while churning out over 500 yards of offense. Thankfully, the Bears had solid performances from special teams and their run game, which required very little help from Jay Cutler.

There is nothing better in football when you have to protect the lead and turn to your four-minute offense. Offensively, some of your biggest runs come at this point in a game. Two of Matt Forte's biggest runs came with five minutes to go in the game when teams typically turn to their four-minute offense to close the game out.

First and 10 with ball at the Chicago 40, Forte rips a 20 yard gain off left tackle with 5:06 left on the clock. The next play was a 4-yarder off right end. The Bears eventually had to punt after a penalty on this drive, but it took almost two minutes off the clock.

The best run came the very next offensive series when the Bears really went 'Heavy personnel". Offensive lineman Lance Louis reported as an eligible tight end. With a little more beef, Carolina knows it's a run and Forte still gutted the Panthers with a 40-yarder with under 1:48 left on the clock. It was beautiful to see and the benefits of consistently running the ball throughout the duration of the game payed huge dividends late in the fourth quarter when Carolina simply wanted no more.

Jay finished with the most important statistic, which is the "W". He did not have to be Superman against the Panthers, but he didn't have to be Peter Parker either.

By Executive Order, the gameplan going in was to run the ball. Jay just needed to manage the game and his throwing opportunities when they presented themselves. He seemed flustered early when the protection did not hold up and I thought it affected some of his throws later in the ball game.

It's easy for me to say sit in there and set your feet, but it is very difficult to trust seven-step drop pass protection considering all the breakdowns the last two seasons. Therefore, I thought he was seeing some ghosts and feeling pressure that was not there. The interception Jay threw in the second half would be my example.

Jay sensed a need to shuffle right, then left before delivering the ball. The pass protection on the play looked fine. By falsely sensing pressure, it screwed up the timing of the throw, and Jay did not properly reset his feet to deliver an accurate ball down field. The ball sailed high, got picked off, and gave Carolina another opportunity.

I'm sure Bear fans just want to see how good this team can be ifwhen they put it all together offensively. They come a little closer by knowing they can run the football. Next on the list to complete is third down conversions and scoring. Bears are worst in the NFL right now at converting third downs.

But, that will have to wait until next blog......

Jim Miller, an 11-year former NFL quarterback, is a Comcast SportsNet Bears analyst who can be seen each week on Illinois Back Institute 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.

Sunday is Matt Nagy's chance to prove the Bears' changes are for real

Sunday is Matt Nagy's chance to prove the Bears' changes are for real

Matt Nagy thinks about the Packers a lot. 

He thinks about his first career game as an NFL head coach, at Lambeau Field, and how he’ll “never forget that day, that game, for so many different reasons.” 

He thinks about his first NFC North title, which was clinched when Eddie Jackson intercepted Aaron Rodgers in the end zone, avenging the season’s earlier loss.

And he thinks about Week 1 of this season, when millions of eyes tuned in on Opening Night to watch a supposed Super Bowl contender score three points, at home, in a loss to the Packers. 

“I try not to remember too much of that,” he said. “That was a rough one.”  

It just so happens that, this week, everyone else is thinking about the Packers too. On the surface level, it’s the 200th meeting in one the league’s most storied rivalries, and a pivotal game in this year’s race for the second Wild Card spot. There’s Aaron Rodgers, who Nagy called, “competitive as hell.” There’s a talented-and-maybe-underperforming defense, with Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith on the edges creating matchup nightmares for an offensive line that’s undergone more change than anyone. 

“We knew what kind of players they were,” he added. “They’re not unknown anymore.” 

If you wanted to get esoteric, there’s a great redemption narrative to Sunday’s game too. The Packers came into Chicago and exposed the Bears’ starters – who, you’ll remember, sat out the preseason. Things would get worse – so much worse – but the book was out on Nagy’s Bears, and it took them three months to recover. 

“I just feel like we’re kind of in a rhythm now,” Mitch Trubisky said. “We’re a different team. There were some things that we had to go through in the first game and the beginning of the season that just didn’t go our way, and there’s things we definitely learned from as an offense. I just feel like we have a new-found identity of what we want to do and everybody is really locked into what they have to do within their job description on the offense.” 

Things have been different than Week 1, even if you couldn’t say that until Week 12. Nagy has admittedly found a better rhythm as a play-caller, and many of the issues that plagued the Bears in Week 1 haven’t been an issue lately. The tight end room is producing, they’re shifting through personnel groupings less, and the run game has stabilized – all vital components of the offense that best suits the 2019 Bears. It’s not what Nagy envisioned, but 202 ended up being formative in ways he never expected. 

“I feel like a better coach going through this for the players, for my coaches and just the way we communicate,” he said. “The honesty, the belief in one another; going through this is important and it'll help me in the long run, to be able to handle these type of situations when they arise again.”

Aaron Rodgers recalls when Brian Urlacher and the Bears had 'super inappropriate' checks to use against the Packers

Aaron Rodgers recalls when Brian Urlacher and the Bears had 'super inappropriate' checks to use against the Packers

There’s plenty of history between the Bears and the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers shared some inappropriate history in the storied rivalry ahead of the team’s meeting on Sunday.

On Wednesday, Rodgers was asked if he had any favorite Bears players, either from the past or one to play against. His answer was Brian Urlacher.

“I have a ton of respect for him,” Rodgers said of Urlacher. “I’ve gotten to know him off the field. Now I like him a lot more now that he’s not sacking me or picking me off. He got me a couple times over the years. I did tackle him one time though. It wasn’t much of a tackle, but he fell, thankfully, on that play. I have a ton of respect for his game and what he accomplished in the league.”

From when Rodgers took over the starting job for the Packers in 2008 until Urlacher retired after the 2012 season, they played nine games, including playoffs, against each other. Rodgers’ Packers won seven of those, but Urlacher did manage three interceptions and had 1.5 sacks of Rodgers.

Rodgers continued his story with something from the 2009 season opener in Green Bay. Urlacher was apparently trying to mess with Rodgers when it came to checking plays.

“Every time I checked, he checked to something,” Rodgers said. “The checks he was saying were super inappropriate. I think it was pre-micing up of the guards where every single word was heard because I promise you, if that had happened today, some of that stuff would have had to get bleeped out, but we had a lot of fun with it.”

The two have golfed together since Urlacher’s retirement and Rodgers brought that game up to Urlacher. That gave him an opportunity to figure out what the deal was.

“We joked about some of those checks,” Rodgers said. “I can still remember some of the crazy stuff he was saying out there and I always wondered was any of that stuff real or were you just effing around? We had some good laughs about that, but he was a lot of fun to play against and a great player.”

Urlacher didn’t have a big individual impact on that game. He had three tackles and one quarterback hit. The Packers won 21-15.

As for if the inappropriate checks were legit, Urlacher claimed he on to the Packers’ checks.

“He said a lot of them were real,” Rodgers said. “They would come up with it specifically for Packers week. I told him we were dummy checking on him sometimes, but he said that he had a beat on when we were checking and they would come up with specific dirty checks to combat anything we were trying to do.”