- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune talks to Carolina cornerback Captain Munnerlyn about last week’s final drive. Since the Bears have gotten much good press for coming through in the clutch there, I thought the comments about the poor Carolina defense were revealing:
“I asked Munnerlyn if the Panthers were sitting in a Cover-2 shell.
“‘I wish it was Cover-2,’ he said. ‘We played a Cover-4 look. They kind of ran double slants on my side and forced me to squeeze No. 2 and … (outside cornerback Josh Norman) can’t play that. You tell a guy to jump that and if he jumps that and Brandon Marshall does a double move, it’s a touchdown. We’ve just got to do better. Even though Coach gave us that call, we’ve got to execute. We tried and we fell short.'”
“‘They were playing one coverage and we just kept hitting them and hitting them and hitting them,’ [Bears quarterback Jay] Cutler said. ‘That’s pretty much it.’
“Said Panthers coach Ron Rivera: ‘In the last couple of plays, we tried getting into one of our Cover-2s, and we didn’t get off in time and Cutler completed the throws.'”
- Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune quotes Brandon Marshall on Cutler’s leadership Sunday:
“Cutler’s throws might not have been as impressive as his leadership late in the game. More than anything, it is leadership that wins games like this one.
“Asked what was different on the last drive, receiver Brandon Marshall said, ‘Cutler.’
He recalled watching Justin Medlock kick a field goal with 2:27 remaining that put the Panthers up by two points.
“‘I’m sitting here shaking, a little bit of the cold weather, a little bit nervous,’ Marshall said. ‘And (Cutler) just starts smiling. … It just put me at ease right away. The guys feel that vibe and they play off it. So Jay definitely led that whole drive and made us pick up our game.'”
Its nice to hear this and I’d like to believe it. But it would be nice if just once I heard it from someone other than Marshall who is really Cutler’s cheerleader lately.
“On if he feels he could have avoided some of the sacks:
“’I always feel like I can avoid them. Didn’t move as well as I thought I wanted to. I need to take a look at the film and see where the holes were. I kept asking JB (Jeremy Bates) and J-Cam (Jason Campbell) if I was staying in there too long or what the deal is. We just have to take a look at offensive film and talk to the offensive line to see their take on it and fix it on Tuesday.'”
I heard the complait that Cutler was holding the ball too long several times from fans. In my view this frequently was not the case. Cutler was dropping back, his first read wasn’t there and the Panthers defense was on him. They came at him from all sides and there was nowhere to go. That’s a protection and coverage issue not a quarterback issue.
If Cutler had a fault in those plays it was in not pulling the ball down and not protecting it better in giving up two fumbles. It fairly evident that he doesn’t often give up on plays even when he really should.
- How good has Marshall been? I’d totally forgotten about this chronic issue he’s had throughout his career. Via Pompei:
“When I asked Brandon Marshall during training camp about how reliable his hands were, given the number of drops he had in his career, he said, “It won’t be a problem.”
“He was right.”
I got pretty tired of reading articles this week about Jay Cutler (both positive and negative). I’m pretty much at the point of skipping them. But as worried as I was and am about Marshall off the field, this one from Pompei praising him was definitely warranted. You just couldn’t ask for anything more from a player through the first half of the season.
- Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times thinks the Bears need to develop develop a better screen game. They certainly haven’t run it very well lately.
- For a national perspective on the Bears we have Judy Batista at The New York Times answering your questions:
“The Chicago Bears–that good, or the beneficiary of soft scheduling to start the year?–AC, Fox Point, Wis.
“The defense is for real, without question. All those turnovers (14 interceptions, five returned for touchdowns) are not an accident. We will probably get a better read soon on how much the schedule has helped them because in November they have back-to-back games against Houston and at San Francisco, which have two terrific defenses themselves.”
- Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune and I see eye-to-eye:
- Potash quotes Rod Marinelli on stopping Titans running back Chris Johnson:
“‘Gap control is essential, but there’s going to be a free hitter that has to tackle,’ Marinelli said. ‘We usually funnel the ball to a certain area, and guys have to make tackles in space. That’s tough because he can make you miss. And if we’re not hustling, it can be a big play.'”
- I thought this quote from D.J. Moore via Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times was interesting. He’s got a point.
“[Titans quarterback Matt] Hasselbeck noted that the Bears have been great at generating turnovers but suggested that Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings are ‘jumping routes.’
“Not so, Bears cornerback D.J. Moore said.
“‘I don’t think he understands what he’s saying when he says they’re jumping routes because they’re really not,’ Moore said. ‘If you jump routes, you’re going to be sitting on the bench.
“‘That’s pretty much 100 percent. You just play your technique, and if [the quarterback] happens to make a mistake, and I’m playing my technique, then I have a chance to make a play.'”
- There’s a small message for Bears president Ted Phillips in this Audible from Pro Football Weekly:
“The problem that I am seeing across the league is that there are not enough good football people in positions of power. Look at the GMs now — how many have cap backgrounds? There are a lot of smart people in front offices — a lot of team owners and presidents didn’t get where they are without earning it. But you better have some good football people to sort through decisions. Head coaches have their own job to do. They need a strong support structure.”
I’ve heard that Phillips is getting more involved with running the organization. That’s fine and you could argue that its called for given the poor job former GM Jerry Angelo did in terms of administration and management. But I hope Phillips never forgets who the football people are or never makes the mistake of making his decisions based upon anything but their judgment.
- As frustrating as Jay Cutler’s almost oblivious attitude and the resulting poor leadership he shows can be, all Bear fans should remember the alternative as highlighted in this Audible from Pro Football Weekly:
“‘The fan base in Cleveland is going to go nuts if they cannot find a quarterback. What you have with Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy is a serviceable No. 2 and a good No. 3. There’s not a starting quarterback on the roster. That’s the first piece that needs to be fixed. They have to get their quarterback.'”
One Final Thought
This was an interesting thought from Batista:
“The 1 percent (N.F.L. owners) are keen to allow only the 3 percent (Green Bay) to own their own team. When will the time of the 97 percent arrive? In New Orleans we, the State of Louisiana and therefore the citizens of Louisiana, give and give to Tom Benson. He cuts deal after deal with the state, taking more and more of our money. By nature of the deals we, the people, basically own the team, but do not have our name(s) over the door. Allowing only the Green Bay Packers to have this arrangement is wrong in so many ways when the fans and citizens pay for the tickets, stadiums and anything else the 1 percent can dream. Asking you to get out the crystal ball– when and where is the lawsuit filed to right this wrong and get the 97 percent in on the action?–Hebert, New Orleans
“Have never heard a clamor for this, to be honest. I wouldn’t hold your breath. But also keep this in mind: the “public owners” of the Green Bay Packers buy shares to give money to the team. There are no dividends paid and they get no say in how the team is run. They are essentially giving the team their money for an honorary title. To think that somehow a team would be run by a committee of citizens is unrealistic.”
Though I have to say that the Saints rooters are incredibly and willfully blind when it comes to the culpability of people like Sean Payton in the bounty scandal (i.e. typical fans), I will give them this: they are stuck with one of the lowest class owners in sports. So, unrealistic as the suggestion might be, I sympathize completely with tenor of this question.