Bears

Moon: No major changes needed for playoffs

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Moon: No major changes needed for playoffs

Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011
3:06 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Jay Cutler doesnt like pressure. He doesnt like it in his face when hes wearing a helmet and he doesnt particularly care for it when its in the form of questioning him.

So when the issue was raised Wednesday about what the Bears might see a need to change in the wake of the Green Bay experience, Cutler cut the question short.

Were not fixing anything, he said abruptly. Were going to run our offense exactly how weve been running it. We took a look at the film and learned from it, corrected the mistakes we had to correct.

But were not changing anything. Were not going to let off what were doing. I think the guys have a very good belief in what were doing and know why we do it.

Well, OK, then.

Not making radical changes is without question the sensible approach, even for an offense that ranks 30th in yardage (28th in passing yards) and 21st in scoring. The Bears have struggled through portions of this season just mastering their Mike Martz offense and to start introducing gimmicks is far more likely to do damage than good.

There are some things we look at that I think wed like to try to do, Martz said, then qualified that, maybe. Were very well aware of any shortcomings that we have and well try to address them for this playoff.

Besides, said receiver Earl Bennett, we know what we can do, what type of team we are, and weve just got to go execute it, and feel like were able to do that.

What didnt work

The Chicago offense has defied typecasting in 2010, which makes any obstinance or defiance on the part of Cutler, Martz or others marginally understandable.

The simplest reason lies in the fact that as the season went on, in a business where trends are significantly more important than averages, the Bears got better offensively.

Cutler had 100-plus passer ratings in the first two games of 2010. Then he went missing in the stretch when the Bears were losing three of four, with the only victory coming in the game he sat out with a concussion.

But he posted 100-plus ratings in four of the final six games, melting down in the Green Bay and New England games.

His teams remain undefeated (21-0) in games when he reaches the 100-rating mark.

What has not worked for the Bears is when Martz and the offense has asked Cutler to carry the offense. He simply cannot. He is not Montana, Elway, Favre, Manning, Brady, and given that he is in his fifth NFL season, he likely never will be.

The flop in Green Bay that saw the Bears score 3 points and Cutler throw at a 43.5-rating rate revealed some of the limits the Bears need to avoid. Indeed, that result confirmed that the Bears in fact do not need to change what theyre doing, as long as its what they were doing since the off week and not what they did Sunday afternoon.

The last 12 plays were probably passes, I think, all passes, Martz said. Other than that, I think we had 23 called runs and 24 called passes or somewhere there were a couple of plays in between there but we were trying to get something going in the passing game on first down a little bit more than maybe what we have in the past.

We didnt make any of those plays, and weve got to make them, obviously. We had eight opportunities in the passing game to make really big plays, and we didnt make one of them, which is not like us. Im very disappointed in that. And of course if you dont make the play on first down, you give them second and 10 and so forth and so on. So that was unlike us, both in terms of the numbers and performance, I think, in the passing game, really.

So, change things? Not likely.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

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USA Today Sports Images

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

Despite losing 34 of his 48 games as the Bears’ head coach, John Fox’s players generally liked him and were disappointed to see him fired on New Year’s Day. That’s not to say they were blindsided by it — losing leads to people losing their jobs, even if the culture at Halas Hall had changed for the better following the disastrous end of the Marc Trestman-Phil Emery era. 

It was with that backdrop that Matt Nagy was offered and accepted the position of Bears head coach a week after Fox’s firing. Four and a half months later, Nagy has seemingly made a strong first impression on his new team, with one reason standing out among many: He’s genuine in who he is and what he does.

“I would say Nagy can be stern, and he can be playful also,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “I think when you’re a first-year coach, you want to win (over) your guys, and you want to be firm, and he’s doing that. You can’t really tell he’s a rookie coach or whatever. I feel like he was born for this, and he’s doing a great job.”

Granted, no player is going to publicly blast their new boss — especially not before he’s even coached a game yet. But veteran players also aren’t oblivious to who can and cannot work out as a head coach, and there haven’t been any “damning with faint praise” types of comments that were more common five years ago at the beginning of the Trestman era.

Will this win Nagy any games come September? No. But consider this sort of like team chemistry: It won't win a team anything, but if a team doesn't have it, it can be costly. 

“He’s a cool coach, man,” linebacker Danny Trevathan — who played for Fox in both Denver and Chicago — said. “He’s always giving us little details and smiling but we know he’s a hard worker just like we are. He’s up there working just like we are. He’s always putting us in the right position and he takes care of us. On the back end, where I come from, you take care of coaches like that. You go out and make plays for those coaches.”

From an observational standpoint, Nagy comes across as genuinely excited not just to be a head coach, but the head coach of the Bears. Players respect that approach — he's not coming in acting like a hired gun, and he's shown through these OTAs and practices that he cares about them, even if they haven't spent much time together yet. And he's also not strutting into Halas Hall every day with an over-inflated ego based on his promotion. That resonates, too. 

“I like the way he came in,” Trevathan said. “He came in humble but he was hungry. He came anxious, moving around in the meetings. I like that. That gets me fired up. I feel like we’ve got a good leader up here in the head coach.”

Anthony Miller sports Bears uniform at NFLPA Rookie Premiere

Anthony Miller sports Bears uniform at NFLPA Rookie Premiere

Anthony Miller has quickly become a fan favorite on social media. He has the confidence and swagger found in most top wide receivers and it comes through on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Miller was one of 40 players in attendance at the 2018 NFLPA Rookie Premiere where he not only learned about the business and marketing side of football, but also suited up in his Bears gameday uniform for the first time. Of course, he shared the moment on Twitter:

Panini America, a sports collectible company, snapped a picture of Miller with fellow rookie receiver Calvin Ridley (Falcons) and quarterback Mason Rudolph (Steelers):

Miller has become something of a standout for the Bears despite not playing a single snap. He's expected to have a big role in an offense that has several new pieces and roles that are up for grabs.

Miller will compete with former first-round pick Kevin White and free-agent addition Taylor Gabriel for reps opposite Allen Robinson. Miller has the necessary skill set to play as both an outside receiver and in the slot which should give him an even greater opportunity to be on the field quite a bit.

The Bears first three draft picks are all vying for starting jobs in 2018. Roquan Smith (first round) is a lock to start next to Danny Trevathan and James Daniels (second round) will start at guard. Miller should make it three-for-three in a draft class that could end up the best of Ryan Pace's tenure.