Bears

Gruden: Bears should get Cutler replacement in the pipeline

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Gruden: Bears should get Cutler replacement in the pipeline

Incoming Bears GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox are not the only ones who do not accord quarterback Jay Cutler praise or even a certain future in Chicago.

Former Super Bowl-winning coach and current ESPN “Monday Night Football” analyst Jon Gruden was working the MNF game last Dec. 15 when Cutler threw three interceptions in a dismal loss to the New Orleans Saints. The performance sent Cutler to the bench for the following game vs. Detroit.

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It also appears to have cemented Gruden’s opinion that the Bears need to begin in earnest a succession plan behind a quarterback who has exhausted his “potential” and presumably his time in Chicago after 2015.

“In my opinion, with that talent, it just hasn’t all come together for him,” Gruden said on Tuesday via conference call. “I think Chicago, given the contract that Jay Cutler has, should consider looking for a young arm that has a bright future as a Bear.”

Gruden voiced some negative critique points during the Bears-Saints telecast. Not all of them had to do with only Cutler’s individual performance.

“The body language of the Bear football team wasn’t good last year,” Gruden said. “Oftentimes, that’s a reflection of the quarterback. He threw three interceptions in the game and for a man of that type of talent, that type of experience, it was shocking to me.

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“I want him to turn it around now. But I am somewhat surprised that he hasn’t been able to get it in the gear that the Chicago Bears need him to get it to, because he’s got a pretty good supporting cast…

“He’s been there for a number of offensive coaches. He’s had the Bears on the brink of going to the playoffs. He hasn’t been able to sustain 16-20 weeks of great play.”

Brian Baldinger: 'I'm not so sure anybody could've seen the jump that Mitch Trubisky is making right now'

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USA TODAY

Brian Baldinger: 'I'm not so sure anybody could've seen the jump that Mitch Trubisky is making right now'

On Thursday, Brian Baldinger released another video clip on Twitter for his #BaldysBreakdowns series, this one praising the recent play from Bears QB Mitch Trubisky.

Baldinger states that Trubisky is "making some kind of jump", referring to how impressed he was with Trubisky's play when compared to his rookie season. 

In the video Baldinger explains in the video how you expect franchise QBs to make a big leap from year one to year two, and a big part of that leap for Trubisky is being unafraid to make aggressive throws downfield.

Baldinger highlighted a play where Trubisky hit Taylor Gabriel 47-yards down the field, choosing to trust his wideout after he hit him with perfect ball placement despite tight coverage. He continued this theme later on in the video, showing Trubisky's TD strike to Allen Robinson, which was whipped right past a Dolphins defender. 

But Baldinger's video wasn't exclusively compliments for Trubisky. He discussed Tarik Cohen's effectiveness as a pass-catcher, saying that you "can't cover him" and comparing him to a Ferrari with his ability to go from first to fifth gear "about as fast as anybody."

He ended his video by showing Trubisky punishing the Dolphins for a blown coverage, hitting rookie Anthony Miller in stride for a 29-yard TD. Baldinger's point in including this clip was to show Trubisky's improved recognition, as he may not have spotted the blown coverage last year. Noticing when and how to take advantage of defensive sloppiness is one of the many things that seperate a "franchise QB" from a stopgap, and Trubisky is trending in the right direction. 

If Baldinger's breakdown is any indication, we should expect Trubisky to keep his incredible momentum rolling when the Bears take on the New England Patriots on Sunday. New England is 3rd worst in the league in passing TDs allowed, giving up 15 scores through the air in six games. 

NFC North standings: Bears’ division lead on life support after loss to Dolphins

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USA TODAY

NFC North standings: Bears’ division lead on life support after loss to Dolphins

A tie is all that separates the Bears from the rest of the NFC North division. Chicago’s Week 6 loss to the Miami Dolphins dropped the team to 3-2, which just barely leaves them in first place.

Because the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings tied in Week 2, they sit just behind the Bears at 3-2-1 in the division. The Week 5 bye week also kept Chicago a little bit ahead, but they’re only a game away from dropping down to third.

They still control their own destiny, but Matt Nagy will need an upset win over the New England Patriots on Sunday to maintain their leading position. The Packers are on a bye week, so they would assume first place if the Bears lose.

The Vikings take on the New York Jets for a chance to take sole possession of the NFC North crown, but Chicago is guaranteed to stay ahead of the Detroit Lions, who also have a bye week.

These early season losses are tough on a Bears team trying to grow a division lead before they take on their NFC North foes midseason. The bigger cushion they can build now, the more wiggle room they’ll have when they face the Lions, Vikings and Lions back-to-back-to-back in November.