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Thoughts on the Second Preseason Game

| August 23rd, 2015

On the offensive side…

  • If I were going to write a book entitled Stupidest Plays in NFL History, sure, Leon Lett is going to be on the cover. But in the chapter dedicated to the preseason, Jay Cutler deciding to neck joust Greg Toler in practice game – video above – is going to receive ample attention. Cutler may not be the most well-liked player around Chicagoland but  without him the Bears will resemble the unwatchable teams from the first half of the previous decade. Taking a physical risk like that is borderline insane. You know how I know I’m right? David Haugh called the play “smart”.
  • Sure seems like Adam Gase is wisely using Cutler’s athleticism in a way previous offensive play callers ignored. They’ve shown a few read option looks through two preseason games and Cutler is being allowed to roam outside the pocket, where historically he’s been most efficient. If injuries are going to keep mounting at the receiver spot, Cutler is going to need all the time possible to allow them to get open.

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Bears at Packers Game Preview Addendum

| November 7th, 2014

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Can the Bears hit Aaron Rodgers enough times to make him not want to finish the football game?

Greg Blache was the first person in professional football I heard publicly state sacks were an overrated statistic. He was no longer Bears defensive coordinator a few months later.

Sacks are important. They are more important than pressures and hurries. They are more important than the newest ludicrous stat: disruptions. (According to Adam Hoge’s disruption chart Lamarr Houston was having a Hall of Fame year.) The reasons sacks are important should be obvious to anyone who has ever watched an NFL game. (1) It involves hitting the opposing team’s quarterback and potentially knocking him from the game. Nobody roots for injuries in the league but knocking the opposing QB out of the game has been a goal of defensive coordinators since defensive coordination began. (2) When you sack the quarterback, he is holding the football and thus there is a chance he will drop it and you might pick it up.

I’ve never heard of someone hurrying an opposing QB out of a game. Nobody has ever disrupted a fumble.The Bears need only to look at their win at Lambeau a year ago to understand why they must hit Aaron Rodgers Sunday night. (And I’m talking about hitting him in the black-and-white highlights on an old Zenith, John Facenda symphonic narration kind of way.)

Rodgers is a rhythm passer who will dissect any defense without hitting the ground repeatedly. The Bears need to make Rodgers aware that every attempt more than five yards down field comes with a bruise. If they can’t achieve this with their front four, they must manufacture the pressure. Can they do it? Will they try to do it?

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Position-by-Position at the Bye: Linebackers & Secondary

| October 30th, 2014

NFL: Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons

The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.

Shea McClellin had a breakout game and broke his hand in practice the following week.

Jon Bostic had a breakout game and his back decided it had enough.

Darryl Sharpton had a breakout game and has been relegated to situational defense since for some reason.

Lance Briggs can’t stay on the field. D.J. Williams is a useful if unspectacular player in the middle. Khaseem Greene struggles as the Bears can’t find a position for him and the sample size is far too small to evaluate Christian Jones.

The unit as a whole deserves credit for helping to improve last year’s porous run defense and some blame for their struggles in coverage. But when a team has found themselves starting their fourth, fifth and sixth linebackers in a game how fair an evaluation can one actually provide?

Grade: Incomplete

Note: The Bears won’t do this but they should go full youth movement at the position over the second half of the season. Sit D.J. Williams. Sit Lance Briggs. Find out what you have in a combination of Sharpton, Bostic, Jones. Move McClellin around and see where, if anywhere, he can be most productive. Bears have eight games to learn what they have at linebacker for the next several years. To misuse that time would be a terrible mistake.

Keep reading to learn how bad the secondary has been!

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Bears at Falcons Game Preview Addendum: A Note on the Possibility Stopping Julio Jones

| October 10th, 2014

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A NOTE ON STOPPING JULIO JONES

This is what I wrote in yesterday’s game preview:

Do the Bears have any hope of stopping Julio Jones? The answer is unequivocally no. The Falcons line up  Jones everywhere and run him on as creative an array of routes as you’ll see designed for a premier wide receiver. He’ll run a go from one side, a slant from the other and a shallow cross from the slot on three consecutive plays. Will the Bears deploy Kyle Fuller on Jones for the entirety of the game? Doubtful. Jones is too good to isolate in man over the full sixty minutes. I’m having a hard time not envisioning a 10-catch, 140 yard performance.

I’ve thought about this paragraph for a day or so. On the heels of Tim Jennings referring to the defensive approach against Carolina as “vanilla” this is the Sunday for Marc Trestman and Mel Tucker to go Rocky Road…or Rum Raisin…or pick the ice cream flavor of your choice since they are all infinitely less boring than vanilla. How do I mean?

Julio Jones leads the league in catches (40), targets (T-1, 57), yards (552), first downs (28) and plays of 20+ yards (12). This is not a good wide receiver the Bears are facing Sunday. This is, as of this moment, with Calvin Johnson ailing, far and away the best wide receiver in the league.

Can you stop him? Probably not. Can you make his life miserable for sixty minutes and force Matt Ryan to look elsewhere? Absolutely. Remember, I am not an X’s and O’s football writer. There are plenty of people out there to read if that’s what you’re looking for. My belief continues to be football is a sport where coaches put players in positions to make plays and the ones who make them are the ones who are successful. I continue to argue scheme/play-calling is the most overrated aspect of the NFL.

Let me show you, in crude drawings, how I might approach Jones Sunday.

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Contract Details For Cutler, Jennings, Slauson

| January 6th, 2014

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JAY CUTLER

Here are the details for the Bears quarterback, via Aaron Wilson at National Football Post:

In 2014, Cutler has a $22.5 million base salary and salary-cap figure with $2.5 million of his base salary deferred until March 30, 2014 in addition to another $2.5 million paid out over the 2015 regular season.

In 2015, Cutler has a $15.5 million base salary guaranteed and salary-cap figure.

In 2016, Cutler has a $16 million base salary and salary-cap figure.

In 2017, Cutler is due a $12.5 million nonguaranteed base salary and a $15 million salary-cap figure.

He has $2.5 million in per-game roster bonus paid out for $156,250 for every game he’s active.

In 2018, he has a $13.5 million nonguaranteed base salary with a $16 million salary-cap figure.

That includes the same $2.5 million per-game roster bonus.

In 2019, he has a $17.5 million nonguaranteed base salary with a $20 million salary-cap figure. It has the same $2.5 million per-game roster bonus.

In 2020, Cutler has a $19.2 million base salary plus $2.5 million per-game roster bonus.

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