Bears

15 on 6: Ugliest offensive performance ever

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15 on 6: Ugliest offensive performance ever

Monday, Oct. 4, 2010
8:23 PM

By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

If Sunday night's game was the precursor for an early Halloween scare, the Bears succeeded!

I could not even believe what I was witnessing, then asked to comment on, as a former player, for Bears Postgame Live. The outcome of this debacle was the total opposite of what I anticipated. The Bears needed to be like the Jets who went into Buffalo and gave the Bills exactly what they expected - a beat Down!

The Giants were a team at the crossroads and waiting for their own demons to take hold all the way up to halftime. For the Bears to even jog to the locker room down 3-0 after 30 minutes was a miracle. This is after giving up nine sacks, a sack fumble, an interception, three offensive line changes and a total output of only 22 yards offensively.

It truly was the ugliest offensive performance I have ever witnessed from an NFL team.

If the Bears were given a rock for Halloween, (like good ole Charlie Brown), for that performance it would be generous. But before we get ahead of ourselves and fire everyone for a Halloween day massacre, let's understand why the Bears' play was so horrendous and attempt to put it into perspective.

Lost Quarter

From the information I have gathered, Jay Cutler went ghostly at the beginning of the second quarter. Mike Martz calls a 258 with whatever route combination tagged at the time. A 258 is a "QB Dash" play - a good play call at the time - allowing you to change the launch point for a QB when pass protection is an issue.

As a QB, you show a straight drop back of five steps from underneath the center, then dash to the right enabling offensive lineman to "pin in" pass rushers who are "teeing off." The problem is, you have to secure the backside cut off block, or a defensive end (Osi Umenyura) has a 20-yard sprint targeting your QB dead to rights. Greg Olsen amazingly tries a "cut block", when he should just face up. It truly is amazing that Jay Cutler actually got up after such a vicious hit, but he started walking to the wrong sideline. Clearly, he was not sound mentally and anyone who took that hit would have been out of sorts.

It is never a fun moment to be in that sate! I have experienced it, and it truly becomes a one-play-at-a-time senario, where you are trying to pull yourself together.

As the quarter progressed, even former NFL wide receiver Chris Collinsworth noted on a play, "How does Jay not see Earl Bennett on the Shallow cross?" I personally knew something was amiss when Jay missed a nickel blitz from an "empty set" (spread out, no backs), and took another vicious hit from cornerback Aaron Ross. Not recognizingmissing that blitz for Jay would be like Bears fans missing a Bears game - it does not happen! It is football 101, they are bringing one more than you have to block!

The second quarter was now lost, in terms of execution, and the coaches had to figure out if Jay can go in the third. In this house of horrors is where I have a huge problem, outside of the Offensive line protection issues.

Normally, players on the field sense when a player has been "dinged." Mike Martz and the offensive coaches had to have sensed it as well with how Jay was readingexecuting plays. All this withstanding; the blown blocking assignments, missed open receivers, lack of running game and the injured starting QB - the storm could have been weathered again by the Bears.

Instead, much like the confusion on the field, the Bears go in at the half with doctors evaluating Jay and no one prepping the offense - Todd Collins or Caleb Hanie for the inevitable. Collins said in his post game presser, "I did not know I was playing until coming out of the tunnel for the second half."

That is unacceptable and poor preparation by the Bears coaching staff!

From Now On...

Bears QB's better be equipped to manipulate this offense. After a three-game warning, Jay should have known he cannot trust his protection early. As a QB, you have to learn to negotiate it!

The play called in the huddle may have primaries, but you better know your dump-offs on every play. Offensively, you must log more snaps when things are "harry." It is the only way you find any rhythm. The "dump off," may not be a big gain, but they may miss a tackle or make a mistake, and you continue to make them line up to diagnose a weakness and find a spark.

Accountability

If we are holding players accountable for performance, the same goes for coaches. That was a horrific game plan by Martz. Mike had his hands full with shuffling offensive lineman, but going in, this game begged for the running game to be tapped. Play action would have been set up and the Bears could have been off to the races at 4-0.

It will be interesting next week in Carolina to see what the Bears unveil. Martz will be making the trip to the principal's office and we'll see if he makes the necessary adjustments.

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.

2020 NFL Draft: Bears land CB, OT in 7-round mock draft

2020 NFL Draft: Bears land CB, OT in 7-round mock draft

The 2019 NFL season is in its final quarter, and with the Bears essentially needing to win out while also getting some help around the league to make the playoffs, it's important to keep track of the trending NFL Draft narrative building around this team.

The funny thing, however, is that that narrative continues to change.

Just a few weeks ago, the Bears were considered a team that would potentially dip into the pool of quarterback prospects in the early second round, but with the emergence of Mitch Trubisky (he's thrown for 582 yards and six touchdowns in the last two games alone), it appears less likely that GM Ryan Pace will use one of his few draft assets on one.

Tight end was also considered a target for the Bears in the second round, and that could remain the case as the season marches on. But Jesper Horsted is beginning to look like a legitimate sleeper to emerge as part of the answer at such a critical position in coach Matt Nagy's offense.

So where does that leave this team's hierarchy of draft needs as the offseason inches closer? 

According to CBS Sports' new seven-round mock draft, the first two positions the Bears will address with their two second-round picks are cornerback and offensive tackle. In this mock, Chicago grabs TCU corner Jeff Gladney (No. 49 overall) and Iowa offensive tackle Alaris Jackson (No. 50 overall).

Gladney will participate in this year's Senior Bowl at the end of January after a standout career with the Horned Frogs. He was rated the No. 1 cornerback in the Big 12 by Pro Football Focus in 2018 and has been solid once again this season, although he's managed just one interception on the year. 

At 6-foot, 183 pounds, Gladney has an NFL frame and the kind of high-end coverage skills the Bears should be looking to add to the roster. Prince Amukamara's contract expires at the end of next season, and drafting a player like Gladney, combined with 2019 sixth-round pick Dukey Shelley, would strengthen the team's pipeline of young cornerbacks who will eventually be called upon to play.

Jackson, who the Bears take with their second second-rounder in this scenario, suffered an early-season knee injury but returned to earn Third Team All-Big 10 honors this year.

Jackson combined with Tristan Wirfs to give Iowa one of the best offensive tackle duos in college football, but Jackson offers a little less upside on the edge moving forward. Still, the Bears have suffered from underwhelming offensive line play all season and won't hesitate to add a player with Jackson's pedigree early in this year's draft.

As for the rest of the Bears' draft haul, here are some highlights:

Round 4 (projected compensatory pick): Colby Parkinson, TE, Stanford

Parkinson began the 2019 season with some chatter that suggested he'd end the year as the top tight end in the class. And while he ended the season with 48 catches for 589 yards and a touchdown, it wasn't quite the production expected from a player who was supposed to be the next in the long line of promising Stanford tight ends. 

Parkinson's underwhelming season could be the Bears' gain, however. The best part of his game is his ability as a receiver, which is what Chicago is missing most from its offense right now. If he slides into Day 3 and the Bears end up with a compensatory pick in this range, he'd certainly be a viable target.

Round 5 (from Eagles): K.J. Costello, QB, Stanford

Why not tap into the Stanford program twice on Day 3? This time, the Bears go with the guy who was throwing passes to Parkinson. Costello is a solid Day-3 quarterback prospect who has some physical limitations and an awkward throwing motion, but it's critical that Pace adds a developmental passer to the roster even if it's just to become a long-term backup for Trubisky (assuming Trubisky keeps the job).

Costello's been injured all season and was limited to just five games in what was supposed to be a senior year that put him in the first-round conversation. Instead, he'll slide into the third day (at least, he should). He'd make a lot of sense for the Bears, especially from a public relations standpoint. He isn't quite good enough to legitimately challenge Trubisky in 2020, but he has enough talent to potentially develop into a respectable starter down the road.

Round 7: Tucker McCann (K, Missouri)

Kicker alert! Would the Bears dare using a draft pick on a kicker? It seems highly unlikely, especially since Eddy Pineiro is beginning to play better. He's made all of his field-goal attempts during Chicago's three-game winning streak.

That said, Pineiro is connecting on just 76% of his kicks this season, which ranks 25th in the NFL. Not good.

Pace is a pretty loyal guy, and with Pineiro kicking under some of the most intense pressure of any kicking situation in the NFL, one could argue he's weathered the storm pretty well.

The next three games will determine whether Pineiro's roster spot is safe in 2020. If he remains hot, he'll be back. It's as simple as that.

Here is the total Bears' mock draft:

Round 2: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Round 2: Alaric Jackson, OL, Iowa
Round 4: Colby Parkinson, TE, Stanford
Round 5: K.J. Costello, QB, Stanford
Round 5: Larrell Murchison, DL, NC State
Round 5: Kalija Lipscomb, WR, Vanderbilt
Round 6: Tyler Higby, G, Michigan State
Round 7: Tucker McCann, K, Missouri

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Bears head coach Matt Nagy is beginning to find his identiy

Bears head coach Matt Nagy is beginning to find his identiy

What the Bears did to the Dallas Cowboys in Thursday’s 31-24 defeat of the NFC East leaders was significant because of the complete offensive performance.

Based on quality of opponent, gravity of game and player performance, it was quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s career-best game. The 31 points scored by the offense was the most since the mauling of a JV Tampa Bay team last year (when Trubisky threw a career-high six touchdown passes).

And against the Cowboys the offense came back from difficult in-game situations twice.

It wasn’t the Bears that appeared to be settling into an identity that has eluded them through too much of the Matt Nagy era.

Reasons behind the performance against Dallas – collective and Trubisky’s individually – were far from exclusive to this game. Tight-end play, receivers and line doing their jobs are repeatable positives that tell fans an offensive performance like this can and should happen again, more than once.

The difference against the Cowboys? Nagy appeared to be settling into his own identity.

With varying levels of proficiency, his players were running what he laid out and told them to. That changed dramatically against Dallas.

Over the third quarter of the season and into the fourth with Dallas, Nagy has operated less like a coach forcing players into his system and more like a coach molding the offense around his players.

Maybe it was seeing first-hand how miserably coach Matt Patricia forcing the Detroit Lions into his iteration of the New England defense has worked. The Bears’ 2019 turnaround coincidentally started against the Lions.

Whatever the reason, Nagy appeared less lock-stepped with a significantly flawed pass-intensive plan (Green Bay, Oakland, New Orleans losses) that his own personal quarterback nature may prefer. Maybe this is his more adult inner-coach is taking charge.

Players, Trubisky foremost among them, could be excused for feeling some uncertainty about their offense when their coach didn’t have a clear sense of what that offense is or wants to be.

Not a “blame game” situation, however. Nagy, an inexperienced head coach, had a green quarterback on his hands. Trubisky’s true capabilities, comfort levels, and weaknesses are still evolving. Nagy is also dealing with the same route-running, drops, O-line issues and such that plagued Trubisky.

Critically, Nagy’s play-calling has leveled out without lapsing into predictability. He has been less riveted to a game concept with no regard for results and been more adaptable.

When the Bears won three straight to finish the season’s first quarter, Nagy had the offense run the football 29, 24 and 33 times. When he and the offense languished through four straight losses, the Bears ran the football 17, 7, 38 and 18 times.

Since then Nagy has called 24-24-26-23-34 runs and the Bears have won four of those last five.

That doesn’t make Nagy a runnin’ guy. It does, however, make the team better and improves his quarterback’s understanding of the offense.

“Probably three to four, five weeks ago, somewhere in that range where you really started to feel, ‘OK, we're moving the ball,’” Nagy said. “We felt it against the Chargers [when the Bears ran 38 times]. We just weren't good in the red zone, right? But we felt like, ‘OK we're moving the ball,’ that we were limiting three-and-outs.

“And ever since then there's just a great confidence amongst the teammates. They're feeling it, we're feeling it and I think it's reflecting in the game.”

Nowhere more apparent than with Trubisky against Dallas and hopefully going forward.

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