After 7 games, Cutler-led offense still out of sync
November 3, 2010 BY NEIL HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org
Timing has become the Bears' biggest issue at the most critical time of the season. Jay Cutler doesn't have enough time one play and takes too much the next. Receivers aren't where they should be when they are supposed to be there. The offensive linemen don't know whom they are supposed to block. Holes open and close before running backs can exploit them.
There are a lot of explanations for why the offense has flopped. What former St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner thinks has been lacking most of all, however, is what Mike Martz's offense requires above all else: timing. Through the first seven games, the offense has been marching to one tune while the band plays another.
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Sometimes Jay Cutler doesn't have enough time to throw the ball, but sometimes he holds the ball for too long.
The problem is glaring enough for Warner to make his strongest statements yet about Cutler and the offense.
''It's all based on timing,'' he said. ''The timing comes with the understanding of what's going on around you. It comes with the pieces around you being in the right place at the right time. The quarterback has to understand how that timing relates through [his] drop and decision-making.
''From what I've seen up to this point, that's where I see them missing it. Jay has always been a guy that could rely on his physical skills. He could let a guy come open and still get the ball there. Not everyone has that ability. This offense, because of the timing orientation of it, is built around taking a seven-step drop. On your first hitch, you throw to receiver A. If receiver A is not there, you go to receiver B, then receiver C. It's set up that way to keep the spacing of the offense and allow that spacing to give you big plays.''
While Martz has been scrutinized for what his unit hasn't accomplished, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli quietly has maximized his talent and is getting production from young, developing players such as Matt Toeaina, Henry Melton, Corey Wootton and D.J. Moore.
Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs should be healthy to start the second half of the season. Julius Peppers is Julius Peppers. The secondary has held up better than anybody expected it would. More important, Marinelli has struck the right note, and his players have responded. He is keeping it simple, stressing the combination of effort and fundamentals required to make the Tampa-2 defense successful.
Dave Toub's special teams outperform the opposition virtually every week, which means the Bears can avoid the second-half slide many anticipate if the offense turns things around. But it needs to start during the game Sunday against the Buffalo Bills in Toronto because time is running out.
''Where I see Jay struggling right now is with the confidence and understanding, whether it be his part of the system and the whole realm of that or the guys around him not necessarily being there on time,'' Warner said in a conference call for the NFL Network. ''I see hesitation in Jay on the back end of his drops and in the pocket. He wants to get back there, hitch a couple of times, see something come open and make the throw. In this offense, it's not built that way. That's the biggest struggle they're having. The timing orientation of it is off right now.''
Former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, who will be Warner's broadcast partner during the NFL Network's telecasts on Thursday nights, was more blunt in his assessment.
''The problem with Jay Cutler in a nutshell is he makes bad decisions with the ball in his hands,'' said Theismann, who outspokenly supported the Martz-Cutler union before the season. ''He makes his mind up where he wants to go with the football at times, and he doesn't throw it away.
''The first interception to [Redskins cornerback] DeAngelo Hall last week is just a great come-around-the-receiver [play], an absolutely great interception. The one-handed one is a great interception. The last one he throws ... your receivers have to be on the same page as you are.
''One of his big crutches has been Greg Olsen. His tight end was his go-to guy last year. Now all of a sudden you don't see him as part of the offense.''
Warner said breakdowns on the offensive line and the overall lack of timing have caused the type of negative plays that have resulted in Cutler second-guessing himself, which he can ill-afford to do in an offense that must be executed with precision for it to be as successful as the Bears need it to be.
''[Cutler's] a perfect fit from a confidence and ability standpoint,'' Warner said. ''Where he has to adjust is he has to anticipate within that offense and see things ahead of time and throw the ball before a guy gets open, trust a guy to come open and get to his next read. That's where I see him struggling right now.''
ON THE BEARS
Now that's offensive: Bears playing their usual game
November 3, 2010 BY MIKE MULLIGAN email@example.com
It started with a faulty premise, the idea that the quarterback makes a team and not the other way around. Now, with the Bears approaching the midway point of Year 2 of the Jay Cutler era, comes growing realization that whatever experiment we're seeing here has gone horribly wrong.
You'd like to say the Bears' offense is an abject failure of unprecedented level, but truth is bad offense and Chicago football go together like politics and corruption.
Where did it all go wrong? How do you trade for a Pro Bowl quarterback running the second-ranked offense in the NFL and put him in a system that ranks No. 29 only because it jumped up a spot during the bye week? The Bears might be able to break the top 15 if they don't play again. Sadly, they're off to Toronto this week for an international showdown with a bad Buffalo Bills team. There is plenty of blame to go around. Cutler has thrown too many picks and taken too many sacks in his short tenure with the Bears. Mike Martz is a scheme-driven coordinator who far too often puts players in a situation where they can't succeed. He might be a genius, but he hasn't been relevant in the NFL in 10 years. Lovie Smith hired Martz and oversees the operation. Jerry Angelo never has been able to put a great offense together.
Ranking 15th is the magical threshold in the Angelo era, the apex of offensive play since the general manager joined the team before the 2001 season. The Bears ranked 15th on offense in 2006, the year they went to a Super Bowl, which marks the only season they've been higher than 23rd under Angelo. They traded away running back Thomas Jones after that season, a guy then-quarterback Rex Grossman called ''the heart and soul'' of the offense.
Those were the days when the Bears got off the bus running, at least until the second half of the Super Bowl. They treated the forward pass like a gateway drug that only could lead to disaster.
Enter the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to add a so-called franchise quarterback to the mix. The Bears jumped and have been falling ever since. They ranked 23rd on offense last season, only the second time they have been above No. 26 in the 32-team league during the Angelo era. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner was fired for his trouble.
Many share blame
What's obvious now is that more is wrong with the Bears' offense than any quarterback can fix. There is an institutional problem that really can't be blamed on just one person. Cutler, Martz, Smith, Angelo -- all of them have played a role.
But there is no escaping some pretty damning facts, like the painful truth that things never have been very good on that side of the ball since Angelo arrived in 2001. Bad as they may have been, the Bears finished 21st or better on offense in five of the six seasons before Angelo arrived, including top-10 finishes on offense under personnel boss Mark Hatley in 1999 (No. 8 overall) and his predecessor Rod Graves in 1995 (No. 9). Angelo was in Tampa at that time, and the offenses there were never better than 21st.
Starting in 2001, the team has wallowed in misery, humiliation and failure under John Shoop, Terry Shea, Turner and now Martz. In consecutive seasons, they have ranked 26th, 29th, 28th, 32nd, 29th, 15th, 27th, 26th and 23rd before falling back to 29th this season. They currently rank in the bottom five in just about every significant offensive category.
Cutler hasn't come near sky-high expectations. His resum1/8© before coming to Chicago suggested a player on the upswing. He entered the league in 2006 playing for an offense that finished 21st, then 11th in 2007 and finally second. The offenses he directed didn't start falling off the ledge until he came to the Bears, which begs the question of whether he'd be better off somewhere else. The Bears, of course, seem to be pretty static regardless of who is under center or who is calling the plays.
The trade deadline is long gone and the team has no plans to move Cutler, but the disturbing thing talking to people around the NFL is that his value has fallen along with his statistics. The man acquired for two first-round picks, Kyle Orton and a swap of a third-rounder for a fifth-rounder wouldn't be worth more than one first-round and one third-round selection these days, one AFC general manager said.
Cutler a coach-killer?
You never get the same value on a re-trade. While it might not be Cutler's fault, odds are he'd be seen as a coach-killer because Mike Shanahan and presumably Smith would be out of the picture during his short career. He never has had a winning season, and that would be held against him regardless of the talent around him.
Another source said the Washington Redskins with Shanahan would be an obvious destination, especially now that the coach benched Donovan McNabb for Grossman at the end of a bad loss to the Detroit Lions. Flimsy excuses don't tell the real story that Shanahan and the Redskins are disappointed with McNabb and that he's unlikely to be in their long-term plans. Would the Bears be better off dealing the only guy this side of Julius Peppers and maybe Devin Hester with legitimate trade value and signing McNabb as a free agent next year?
Could things get any worse?
They don't do anything well.
idk Collins does a heck of a job holding the clip board
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