Bears

Mullin: Bears gettingsending mixed signals?

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Mullin: Bears gettingsending mixed signals?

Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011
Posted: 11:19 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
Mixed signals result in false starts or worse on an offense. For an offense lacking identity and production, some of the disparate cadences coming from Halas Hall are both puzzling and concerning at this early tipping point of the 2011 Bears season:

Receivers

Against Green Bay, Bears wide receivers struggled at times with bad Jay Cutler passes and their own bad hands. Or did they?

Off. Coord. Mike Martz: The wide receivers are playing much faster, good routes. Their game has really been elevated.

GM Jerry Angelo, on the team website ChicagoBears.com: The receivers have hit a plateau so far but its still early.

Offensive line

It wont go down as the most enthusiastic endorsement by a quarterback of his offensive line. Cutler said Wednesday that he indeed had confidence in his offensive line. Sort of.

Cutler: Yeah, I dont have a choice. Those are the guys weve got to go with, and weve got to get them ready, and Ive got to believe in them (which is not quite the same thing as saying he actually does believe in them).

You talk to any quarterback, whenever youre getting a lot of pressure and youre getting flushed and youre getting hit a lot, that clock in your head is going to be tinkered a little bit, Cutler said. Its going to start ticking a little bit faster.

That could well be. But while pressure has an obvious impact on passing offenses, its effects on Cutler are harder to assess conclusively.

In his 2008 Pro Bowl season with the Denver Broncos, Cutler was sacked 11 times. He completed 62.3 percent of his passes. In 2010 Cutler was sacked 52 times. He completed 60.4 percent of his passes.

Against the Atlanta Falcons in week one, Cutler was sacked five times. He completed 68.8 percent of his passes.

Martz: The offensive line did a terrific job Cutler was very pleased with the protection.
Jay Cutler

Cutler missed badly on a number of throws in the Green Bay game. In the first half alone he threw a poorly aimed interception, overthrew Devin Hester and Roy Williams, and threw twice behind Dane Sanzenbacher at the goal line when he was not particularly under pressure from the Packers front. He was not sacked in the first half.

Cutler: Even sometimes when you do have a good amount of time, youre going to be feeling it even if its not there. So its a constant battle. The more consistent we get up front and the more time I have, and the more comfortable I feel, the more consistent Im going to get.

In this instance the various parties do appear to be on the same playbook page. Cutlers protection ostensibly is in place.
Angelo: In our last two games, penalties, dropped balls and protection have all played a part in the lack of consistency, Angelo told the team website ChicagoBears.com (http:tinyurl.com6d5vpf8).

Restricting the offense

The Bears were 11-5 last season. Within that, the record was 7-2 when a more conservative offensive approach was adopted and some restrictions were put in place, in the form of cutting back on certain elements that werent working.
Matt Forte (prior to the start of the season): The offense in general was restricted a little bit in both running and passing games. We were shifting around linemen and trying to get everything under control and making it fit.

But now, with an offensive line missing two starters, a new center, a left tackle moved over from right, and a starting wideout (Williams) conceded by all to still need more acclimating to Cutler.

Martz: No, no. Cutting back is probably the worst reaction you could have. Youre telling players that you dont have confidence in their ability. Thats what youre saying.

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.

Anthony Miller is hyped about Nick Foles' knowledge of Bears' offense

Anthony Miller is hyped about Nick Foles' knowledge of Bears' offense

One of the main reasons the Bears targeted Nick Foles in an offseason that was overflowing with quality quarterbacks to challenge Mitch Trubisky for Chicago's starting job is his familiarity with Matt Nagy's offense. The Bears knew what they were getting when they traded a fourth-round pick to the Jaguars for the former Super Bowl MVP, and in the current COVID-19 reality, that knowledge of who Foles is as a quarterback is more valuable than the team could've ever imagined.

So is Foles' comfort with the playbook. 

Unlike traditional offseasons when players have a chance to acclimate themselves with their new city, teammates, coaching staff, and offensive system, the novel coronavirus has thrust the Bears' quarterback competition into a shotgun four-week run that Foles is oddly equipped to handle. He's already made a positive early impression on wide receiver Anthony Miller.

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“You can definitely tell that Nick has been playing this game for a long time, and he knows this offense very well," Miller said Friday during a Zoom call with reporters. "He’s very detailed in practice, you can catch him in the back of an offensive play going through his progressions and he’s not even in, so that’s just the type of player he is, and I can’t wait to see him live action to see what he really can do.”

It feels like the Trubisky vs. Foles showdown has been underway since March, but the reality is it's just getting started. Padded practices begin next week and will give Chicago's coaches and players their first real opportunity to evaluate which quarterback gives the team the best chance to win.

According to Miller, the starting gig is up for grabs.

“This is going to be an interesting competition to see and the best man is going to get the job.”

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Super Bowl or bust? Why Bears' championship formula is backward in 2020

Super Bowl or bust? Why Bears' championship formula is backward in 2020

First, the good news: The Bears can win Super Bowl LV.

Why not? It’s August.

If Matt Nagy can find the right quarterback and Ryan Pace’s play to overhaul the tight end room pays off, this offense could be a ton of fun to watch. And if the addition of Robert Quinn gives the Bears the sort of fearsome pass rush we expect it will, this defense should be among the best in the NFL – and more than good enough to win a Super Bowl.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Bears news and analysis.

There’s absolutely no part of me that’s going to tell you the Bears cannot win a Super Bowl before we’ve seen them practice, let alone play a game, in 2020.

“We want to win a Super Bowl,” wide receiver Allen Robinson said. “Every day we come into the facility, all our meetings and things like that, I think that our coaches are doing a really good job for everybody to keep that in mind and that's the main thing.”

Okay, but you’re probably waiting for the bad news. I just didn’t want to start with it. Because while it's not impossible for the Bears to make a Super Bowl run, there's a big reason why it feels unlikely. 

The Bears’ formula for winning in 2020, seemingly, is pairing a good enough offense with an elite defense. It’s what got them to the playoffs in 2018 as NFC North champions. It’s what could get them back to the playoffs again this season.

But an “eh, it’s fine” offense coupled with an awesome defense is not a formula that wins you a Super Bowl in 2021. As the last 10 Super Bowls tell us, it pays to have a great offense – and doesn’t matter if you have a great defense.

The last 20 Super Bowl participants, on average, had the sixth-best offense in a given year as ranked by Football Outsiders’ DVOA. The average ranking of their defenses was about 12th.

It’s been even more pronounced over the last four years. On average, a Super Bowl team in that span ranked fourth in offense and 16th in defense.

Only two teams in the last decade reached a Super Bowl with an offense outside the top 10 in DVOA (Denver in 2015, Baltimore in 2012 – notably, both teams still won). Eleven of the last 20 teams to make a Super Bowl had a defense outside the DVOA top 10, including last year’s Kansas City Chiefs.

MORE: Why you shouldn't worry about Allen Robinson getting a contract extension

So the Bears, as currently constructed, do not appear built to win a Super Bowl. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done – we’re not all that far removed from the 2015 Broncos hoisting the Lombardi Trophy with the No. 25 offense and No. 1 defense – but recent history suggests it’s unlikely.

That is, unless Nagy can find the success his former peers (Doug Pederson, Andy Reid) had with his offensive scheme. Make no mistake: Offense leads Super Bowl runs, with defense a supporting character. Not the other way around. And it feels like the Bears have it the other way around. 

 

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