Bears

Miller: Bears facing an identity crisis

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Miller: Bears facing an identity crisis

Friday, Sept. 23, 2011
Posted: 8:25 p.m.

By Jim Miller
CSNChicago.com

The Bears have some serious offensive issues tocorrect heading into this weekends divisional matchup against the Green BayPackers. An offensive identity is the biggest concern. By Week 3 in theNFL, you normally know who you are and who you want to be offensively. Shockingly, in year two of Mike Martzssystem, the Bears again cannot identify who they are and are pretending to besomething they are not. If the Bears want to reign victorious; they must run thefootball, protect QB Jay Cutler, have offensive line cohesion and wide receivers must make plays. Bear Down Bear fans because its not lookinggood.You would have thought Mike Martz would have taken theblueprint from last year and built from it! After the bye week last year, the Bears found their identity in Week 8 through a run game that brought balance and preserved Cutlerfrom purchasing a headstone and early burial at Soldier Field. Unfortunately, every Sunday seemed like Cincode Mayo for opposing defenses to enjoy an afternoon Siesta with Jay posing asthe Piata. Only Mike Martz can explain his fascination throwing thefootball every down, but Lovie has stated very clearly what the Bears'blueprint for success needs to be. There must be balance. Yes, Cutlers talents are numerous andcertainly need to be featured in some games, but with solid defense and goodspecial teams the Bears would finish the season 8-8 with those two componentsalone. Why Martz continues to battlethis mission statement is not good for the team and quite frankly, its notgood for Cutlers career.

Sadly, this weekends game is one where Jay needs to throwthe football. Green Bays secondary has been lit up forover 400 yards in consecutive outings and needs to be tested again, but Martzhas lost this option. The plethora ofblitzes DC Dom Capers likes to run have not been executed well and left themvulnerable to big plays it's essentially designed to stop.The 3-4 Blitz Zone is normally a well choreographed defense,but I believe, it has been affected by the lockout. The same defense run by thePittsburgh Steelers had the same issues losing to Baltimore in Week 1. It's an assignment drivendefense where each non- blitzer drops to a certain spot in coverage. The reason it's called a Blitz Zone defenseis because you are calling zone coverage where a defensive player is in placeto defend deep even though you are Blitzing!
Blitzes normally coincide with man to man coverage, which is why theBlitz Zone has been all the rage and why 26 of 32 NFL teams now use someversion of it. The scheme is actually very conservative but it does have an array ofdifferent looks and blitzes, which can be confusing to any OL. Both the Steelers and Packers are ultimately running the same scheme, which is: Blitz Zone cover 3 or Blitz Zone cover 2 amajority of the time. After witnessing the Bears offensive line incorrectly pointout their pass protection assignments versus the Saints last week, this willhave to be a very simple game plan for the Bears, who now have injuries to deal with on their offensive frontline. Gabe Carimi might be a rookie, but at least he knew his assignment andnow he's out. The Bears' offense canonly handle base runs, base pass protections and if they fall behind and haveto throw, they should just put it on Jay by calling a 5 man pass pro. Let Jay worry about the blitzes to:1. Throw the ball away to protect himself.
2. Throw hot to Wrs, who need to expose a GB secondary out of position.

3. Scramble for yardage (Dom Capers and Dick LeBeau hated mobile QB's, given Cam Newtons big day. Jay is capable)

I also hope Jay uses the snap count to his advantage to getclues from the Green Baydefense. A lot of double cadence andquick count needs to be called in the huddle by Jay for nothing more than whatmight become self preservation.

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.

Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

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USA TODAY

Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

As Tom Brady approaches what in all reasonable likelihood will be his last game against the Bears and in Soldier Field, the first time this reporter saw Tom Brady comes very much to mind. Actually the first times, plural. Because they were indeed memorable, for different reasons.

That was back in 2001, when Brady should have started replacing Wally Pipp as the poster athlete for what can happen when a player has to sit out and his replacement never gives the job back. Drew Bledsoe, who’d gotten the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl, had gotten injured week two of that season. Brady, who’d thrown exactly one pass as a rookie the year before, stepped in and never came out, playing the Patriots into the AFC playoffs the same year the Bears were reaching and exiting the NFC playoffs when Philadelphia’s Hugh Douglas body-slammed QB Jim Miller on his shoulder.

After that the playoff assignments were elsewhere, including the Patriots-Steelers meeting in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship. Brady started that game but left with an ankle injury and Bledsoe came off the bench to get the Patriots into Super Bowl.

Then came one of those rare moments when you are witnessing history but have the misfortune of not knowing it at the time.

The question of Super Bowl week was whether Bill Belichick would stay with Bledsoe’s winning hand or go back to Brady. Belichick of course waited deep into Super Bowl week before announcing his decision at 8 p.m. on a Thursday night, the second time that season Belichick had opted to stay with Brady over a healthy Bledsoe. And of course Belichick didn’t announce the decision himself (surprise); he had it put out by the team’s media relations director.

You did have to respect Belichick, though, going into his first Super Bowl as a head coach with a sixth-round draft choice at quarterback and leaving a former (1992) No. 1-overall pick with a $100-million contract on the bench. The Patriots upset The Greatest Show on Turf Rams in that Super Bowl, Brady was MVP, and Bledsoe was traded to Buffalo that offseason.

History.

That Super Bowl also included one of those performance snapshots the Bears envision for Mitch Trubisky but missed a chance to let him attempt last Sunday at Miami in his 17th NFL start. Brady took the Patriots on a drive starting at their own 17 with 1:30 to play and no timeouts, ending with an Adam Vinatieri field-goal winner.

If Belichick was all right letting his second-year quarterback in just his 17th start throw eight straight passes starting from inside his own red zone, the next time Matt Nagy gets the football at his own 20 with timeouts and time in hand, best guess is that the decision will be to see if his quarterback lead a game-winning drive with his arm instead of handing off.

It may not happen this Sunday. Brady is a career 4-0 vs. Bears, and if there is one constant it is that his opposite numbers play really bad football against him, or rather his coach’s defense. Bears quarterback passer ratings opposite Brady, even in years when the Bears were good: Jim Miller 51.2 in 2002, Rex Grossman 23.7 in 2006; Jay Cutler 32.9 and Cutler again in the 51-23 blowout in Foxboro. Cutler finished that game with a meaningless 108.6 rating, meaningless because Cutler put up big numbers beginning when his team was down 38-7 after he’d mucked about with a 61.7 rating, plus having a fumble returned for a TD, while the Bears were being humiliated.

A surprise would be if Trubisky bumbles around like his predecessors (New England allows an average opponent passer rating of 91.6), but whether he can produce a third straight 120-plus rating…. Then again, Pat Mahomes put a 110.0 on the Patriots last Sunday night, but Deshaun Watson managed only a 62.9 against New England in game one.

Trubisky will make the third of the three 2017 first-round QB’s to face the Patriots. The first two lost.

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

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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.