Some Perspective on “The Replacements” and Other Points of View
- Cole Schultz at Pro Football Focus points out something I’ve also noticed:
“The offensive line may be the common scapegoat in Chicago, but the interior only gave up one quarterback disruption (108 pass blocking snaps), compared with the three disruptions given up by halfbacks (15 pass blocking snaps).”
Practically speaking it really doesn’t matter who is messing up the protections. But the reality is that we should be talking a lot more about the aspects of that protection that have little to do with the offensive line. It’s been a team effort.
- Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune gives us a little insight into new left guard Chilo Rachal:
“[Running back Michael] Bush got a little help from newcomer Chilo Rachal. He was promoted to the starting lineup at left guard last week to give the Bears a little more nasty, and he did that Sunday.
“‘Chilo brings that edge to the offensive line and he doesn’t take a lot of grief in there,’ quarterback Jay Cutler said of the former 49er. ‘He’s a big guy. He’s kind of a mauler and I feel comfortable with him in there.’”
“This was Chilo’s kind of party.
“‘A physical, nasty game,’ Rachal said. ‘The physicality of a game like this, I get a kick off that.’”
- Joe Cowley at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes Rachal on the Rams mouthy tendencies:
“‘They talk a lot, they talk a lot, extremely a lot,’ Bears starting left guard Chilo Rachal said of St. Louis’ defense. ‘And I feel like it’s unnecessary. Everyone is a competitor, and when you’re losing, I guess you feel like you need to talk mess, but I think it’s unnecessary.’”
- Pompei gives us one of the key things to watch for when the Bears play the Cowboys Monday night:
“Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware versus Bears left tackle J’Marcus Webb. Earlier this season Ware became the second-fastest defender to reach 100 sacks behind Reggie White. He is one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers. Webb has struggled against elite speed rushers. The Bears will have to give Webb plenty of help to neutralize Ware.”
- Cowley thinks the usually boring Bears might be getting interesting. First Brandon Marshall appears to be in a feud with former NFL defensive tackle Warren Sapp after Sapp called him a “retard”. Marshall responds in two YouTube videos below:
“‘When I look at Warren Sapp, I can’t go to him and talk about finances because he filed for bankruptcy,’ Marshall said in the first of two online videos. ‘I can’t go to him and talk about my marriage because he filed for divorce. I can’t go to him and talk about being a great father when one day I have children because he’s not active in his children’s lives.
“‘So the lesson we should all learn here is, surround yourself with good people and be careful who you take counsel from.
“‘I’m not saying he’s been there on my side giving me counsel, but that’s not a guy that I can go to.’”
To no one’s surprise, Jay Cutler finally decided to fire back at D.J. Moore by saying he needed “a muzzle”. Because escalating such things in the media is what team leaders do.
Even Lovie Smith got testy with a reporter Monday:
“In his news conference, Smith was asked by a reporter about having bumpy offensive starts for several seasons, and when he thought he was interrupted, he said, ‘If you let me finish … I don’t need your help. Believe me, I don’t need your help.’”
- I’ve given the cornerbacks their due credit before but, as Pompei points out, the safeties also deserve some credit for a solid start to the season. I thought this observation was interesting:
“In addition to making the play of the game on a pick-six, Major Wright tackled well. He came up and took down running back Daryl Richardson in the open field. Wright hasn’t always made the tackle in similar situations in the past.”
- Pompei quotes Julius Peppers on the determination with which the defensive players are playing:
“‘That’s expected,’ Peppers said. ‘That’s nothing to be patting anybody on the back about. We should be playing like that.’”
- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quotes Rams veteran backup center Rob Turner, who started Sunday versus the Bears, on Brian Urlacher:
“‘I’ll tell you something that a player told me a long time ago. (Longtime offensive lineman) Pete Kendall said there is a point in your career where your body flies around and your mind doesn’t know what it is doing. And then it comes to a point where it levels off. And then eventually you reach a point where it goes the other direction, your mind knows it and your body is just trying to get there. I am not going to say he is at that point. Like I said, you will probably be able to tell better by the end of the season. But I have all the respect in the world for the guy. In my opinion, he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He’s a great player.’”
- Biggs quotes Geno Hayes on his near block of a Rams punt in the endzone in the fourth quarter:
“During the course of the game you start learning more things, their calls, when they called a check I knew he was going to slide out. So, when he slid out, the wing went inside and it gave us off edge. Once you get in the game and you can hear certain things, you know what is going to happen.”
- David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune takes Jay Cutler to task for his spotty performance against the Rams. To my eye, Cutler’s mechanics haven’t been as good this year as they were last year. I wonder if there’s anyone on the staff who can coach him hard enough to correct them.
- The staff at the Chicago Sun-Times give us this perceptive comment:
“Lost in the hysteria of the Seahawks’ 14-12 victory over the Packers on Monday night was the Packers’ recovery from an abominable start.
“Aaron Rodgers was under siege like Jay Cutler on the Bears’ worst night. He was sacked eight times in the first half but kept his composure and avoided disaster. He had no turnovers in the onslaught, and the Packers trailed only 7-0.
“It makes a difference. When Cutler was sacked nine times in the first half against the Giants in 2010, he was intercepted once, fumbled three times, lost one, had a 40.7 passer rating and left the game with a concussion. On Monday night, Rodgers was still standing with nary a turnover and a 90.6 passer rating (12-for-15, 86 yards). There’s a reason why he has thrown just one pick-six in 79 NFL games (2,468 attempts including the postseason).
“The Packers were on tilt but responded in the second half, allowing zero sacks. In 10 games in which Rodgers has been sacked five times or more, he has thrown 16 touchdown passes and nine interceptions with an average passer rating of 91.5.”
- Former Bears linebacker Roosevelt Colvin isn’t a big Cutler fan. Biggs points out that he’s posted a number of verey negative tweets on the subject. Colvin gave this interesting response to a direct question about it from Biggs in which he also got a dig in on Mike Tice:
“‘I read body language a lot and a lot of the body language [Cutler] gives off, it seems like it doesn’t matter or if it matters it’s not my fault. You see the episode with the tackle last week, yelling at him because he messed up and the semi-bump with the shoulder. I just feel there are better ways to handle things.
“‘That’s not to say guys like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady or Eli Manning don’t get upset and yell at their players, but the dude did a decent job blocking one of the NFL’s best pass rushers. There was that one play where he got kind of caught up and didn’t block the guy correctly but you’ve got to lean on your offensive coordinator. Mike Tice has got to understand, ‘Hey, chip the guy instead of just letting the back run out in the flat.’ These are things that I came to understand in New England and made me feel like Bill Belichick is hands-down the best football coach in NFL history because of those types of things — it’s matchups. It’s all about matchups. You’ve got to make adjustments. If you see the guy is struggling, if you’re Jay Cutler go to the coach and say, ‘Hey, instead of letting the back release out right now, why don’t we take him out and chip Clay Matthews to give the dude a little help. That will buy me an extra two seconds to allow me to read the play and be more successful.’
“‘But you don’t see that. He gets a bad rap. You see him yelling at another guy and you see his head down. It’s upsetting. But, you know, he represents the state of Indiana so I continue to support him.”‘
- Pompei answers your questions:
“Ever since Mike Martz was jettisoned last year, Mike Tice was anointed and Jeremy Bates was brought in, the Bears have stated how their approaches would change to give Cutler the extra time he needs and to utilize some of his special traits. One such approach that the Bears have preached constantly was to employ designed QB rollouts. I have yet to see this used much. What happened to the Bears plans in this area? — Mike Otte, Duarte, Calif.
“The Bears used Cutler on rollouts three times against the Rams, Mike. That’s not very much. I agree with you they should be using rollouts more. When Cutler was in Denver, he was used in moving pockets much more frequently by Mike Shanahan, and he was very effective in those situations. I’ve been banging the drum on this topic since Cutler became a Bear. It makes sense not only because Cutler is good on the move, but also because the Bears have struggled to pass protect. For whatever reason, Bears offensive coordinators Tice, Martz and Ron Turner all have had other ideas. It’s possible rollouts will have a bigger place in game plans moving forward.”
- Here’s what Biggs had to say on how the Bears opponents are covering their receivers:
“The Rams played a lot of press man coverage and also used some combination coverage to blanket Marshall. Press man is what the Bears can expect to see from the Cowboys and cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne.”
- Pompei was optimistic when answering this question:
“Let’s talk about the offense: Do you think it will snap out of this funk? — @Pankster198, from Twitter
“Yes I do. The offense is too good to play the way it has in the last two games. Cutler goes in streaks, and he’s been in a bad one. I anticipate he’ll get on a hot one soon. The offense should be better later in the season if players stay healthy because offensive coordinator Mike Tice should understand the strengths and weaknesses of his players and plays better as time goes on, and new players should integrate more efficiently.”
But I’m sorry to say that I, myself, don’t think this Audible from Pro Football Weekly is far off the mark:
“I don’t know why there has been a love affair in the media with the Bears. The O-line sucks. The running backs are injury-prone. The receivers are overrated. The defense is old. That is not a good football team. And the quarterback (Jay Cutler) has such bad body language. He is very talented, but if they don’t sign him (to an extension), I don’t see anyone paying him a lot of money. Someone would pay him, but it would be a team like Kansas City or Miami, where a job is on the line and they have to win now. It would be a desperation move. When you break him down, he is not very good. He’s taken a step backward.”
- Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonist Scott Stantis pokes fun at the Bears victory over the Rams on Sunday.
- I realize that I”m probably in the minority here but CBS’s insistence on showing the end of each ongoing noon game before taking you to your 3:15 game is very annoying. I don’t want to see flashes of games I haven’t been following just because they are coming to an end, even in over time. I want to see my new game from the beginning so I can judge the changes as it progresses.
- Really touching Steve Sabol memorial commercial during the Bronco-Texans game (after they finally switched me to it). Great job on that.
“Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady were outstanding in 2011. Rodgers broke the passer rating record, and Brees broke the passing yards record. Tom Brady also broke the passing yards record and finished second to Rodgers in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (ANY/A). The three quarterbacks were the clear class of the N.F.L., and the Patriots, the Packers and the Saints were the only teams to top 500 points, going a combined 41-7.
“But this year, all three quarterbacks are struggling. Together the teams are a combined 2-7 and barely resemble their 2011 versions. The Patriots are only fifth in the A.F.C. in scoring, while the Packers have outscored only three teams in the N.F.C. Brady ranks 10th in ANY/A so far this year, which is fantastic compared to the ugly spots Brees (23rd) and Rodgers (26th) occupy.”
- I thought this Audible signaled good things for the Bears:
“I think teams have begun to figure out the Lions. They are very aggressive up front. They get after it (defensively), but the Niners showed you can use it against them and trap the (heck) out of ’em. They are struggling on defense right now.”
If you watched what the Bears did on the offensive line against the Rams, it was exactly this kind of strategy and it worked like a charm in the first half. The Rams eventually adjusted but can the Lions? I have my doubts and even if they do it will take some bite out of the effectiveness of that defensive line.
- Pompei answers one more question:
“I especially enjoy your postgame grading columns. I think it would be great to join you as you review film to come up with the grades so fans could see more into the game than what we only see during the game. — Al Harris
Glad you like the Film Session, Al. If you joined me for one, you might be pretty bored though. It’s a long process that takes hours and hours. I watch most plays over and over and over, pausing, rewinding, playing, pausing, rewinding, playing. Caffeine usually is a prerequisite, especially after a night game!”
Having done this myself before, I can tell you he’s not kidding. It took me an average of 10 hours to completely breakdown a game (with many inaccuracies). In the end I concluded that it was impossible to have a job and do it. Fortunately for Pompei it is his job but I sincerely hope for the sake of his sanity that he’s faster and better than I was.
- From The Sports Pickle we have NFL quarterbacks and their muppet equivalents. Here’s Joe Flacco‘s doppleganger
I confess that I didn’t even read most of the coverage of the emotional upheaval generated by the Packers-Seahawks game. But it did appear to be becoming dangerous. Like most fans, I was just trying to quietly ride out the referee labor stoppage and enjoy the games as they are. But maybe – just maybe – things really had gotten out of hand. Links from The Onion and The Sports Pickle.
I suppose you know things had gotten bad when this happens. From Fred Mitchell at the Chicago Tribune:
“It was announced Tuesday that SportsBettingOnline.ag is granting all of its members a weekly “Replacement Refs Mulligan,” which can be used to refund any bet that lost because of a controversial call.
“’While we’re an online sportsbook, we’re sports fans first. And this NFL season is unbelievably painful to watch, mainly because of the incompetence of replacement refs,’ Dave Johnson, head oddsmaker at SportsBettingOnline.ag, said in a release. ‘We feel for sports bettors, so we’re giving every one of our members a Replacement Ref Mulligan that they can use once a week.’”