Chicago Sun-Times

Simms, Fencik weigh in on the struggles of Cutler

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They're weighing in from all corners now on Jay Cutler, and we'll hear ourselves from the Bears quarterback coming up at noon when he holds his weekly press conference at Halas Hall.

Phil Simms visited with Mully & Hanley this morning on the Score and weighed in on the quarterback and his problems as he leads the NFL with 17 interceptions through nine games, one short of the number he threw all last season in Denver when some people chalked up the statistic to playing for a team with a woeful defense.

"I've had this discussion with you guys and I had it with Bill Parcells over the years, and once I got done playing we'd talk about it,'' Simms said. "He would go up to me [and say], `Why do you think so and so threw that pass? And I said because he thought he could get in in there. And he laughs and says. Probably the biggest problem for Jay Cutler is there's no window that's too small. He believes he can fit it into the tight spots and it's gotten him in big trouble this year.''

Ex-Bears safety Gary Fencik, the franchise's all-time leader in interceptions with 38, said that the issue is the undersized wide receivers that he's working with.

"He has a bunch of smurfs at wide receiver and if you look at Brandon Marshall or Larry Fitzgerald or Randy Moss or even Calvin Johnson with the Lions, you know they're 6-3, 6-5, 220 [pounds] to 230, those are big targets.''

The only problem with that is that the Washington Redskins won a Super Bowl with a group of receivers that were dubbed the Smurfs. Dan Marino went from Miami to Canton, Ohio, zipping passes to Mark Clayton and Mark Duper for the majority of his career. Both of those guys were 5-9.

No, Cutler doesn't have a proven big target in Marshall like he did in Denver, but Greg Olsen has good size and size doesn't make every receiver. Just ask Lovie Smith and the Bears about Carolina's Steve Smith.

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Combination of all of the following:

1. No running game - teams playing nickel / dime

2. Small receivers

3. Cutler exercising bad judgement

4. Cutler throwing off his back foot

Here's a good sun-time(s) pool question; If you could have one guy (player or GM or Coach) from the Bears to build the future on, who would it be ? Briggs, Forte, Cutler, David Toub...etc

The last 4 years with Grossman, Orton, and Cutler, what is the constant? They all seem inept at getting the ball to receivers, they all seem to be out of sync, have timeing issues, or communication issues with receivers. The constant is the offensive coaching staff. I have seen far too many pass plays where the QB and the WR went with opposite options. Why? Where do the Bears rank in the last 4 years for total team INT's? It has to be pretty close to the top. Even without the picks how often do you see the QB and WR not on the same page? Very often if you look back at game tape. Why? They are not coached well, it's that simple, they are never in sync and do not prepare well enough. I'm tired of hearing about the receivers not being this or that. Yes they are currently nobody, but so was Brandon Marshal at one point. These guys are not, in my opinion, great receivers in this league yet, but they are not horrible either. They get open, make plays, and catch the ball like every other receiver in the league, when they execute together with the QB. They just have to execute together more often and they would be much better and Cutler would have less INT's.

Cutler has thrown lots of interceptions in two kinds of games this year:

-Where Chicago's defense fails to stop the opposing offense for it's first 5-7 drives of the game (Bengals, counterexamples, Seattle scored 3 times to open the game, Detroit twice. But Cutler only threw 2 picks in those games and had to have a big 2nd half to win)

-Where Chicago is playing good enough defense, keeping an opponent at 13 points or less but interceptions, especially in the red zone or when in field goal range, truly kill Chicago's chances to take and hold a lead.

I think Cutler won the games vs Pittsburgh and Seattle, but lost the game against San Francisco.

I'm willing to give Cutler the benefit of the doubt on his game vs Green Bay. He and his receivers were just getting used to each other, I think his receivers ran very poor routes that led to interceptions but at the same time Cutler clearly didn't know the capabilities of his targets and threw passes only great WRs would make the play on every time.

The San Fran game looked like it could have been in week 2, it looked so much like Green Bay. In the middle of the field, Bennett and Knox weren't getting open, and Hester was having a hard time himself. Hester averaged under 7 yards/catch and was the target on 2 interceptions where if Hester runs a good route, at worst the play is an incompletion. Kellen Davis apparently doesn't know how to use his size when somebody 70 lbs lighter jumps his route, that was inexcusable.

But once in the red zone, Cutler had no excuses. He knew the odds. He knows his WR's will never score the TD for him. The Bears need touchdowns in the red zone to win against good teams, so that's what Cutler's going for. But the Bears also need more scoring drives in general, whether that be touchdowns or field goals. That's a purpose that has been lost on Cutler I think. We expect to be in scoring range more often in a game with Cutler, and the rate at which we score TD's in the red zone isn't going to increase just because of Cutler so long as the Bears have a bad O-line and bad running game.

The Bears never needed higher efficiency in the red zone as much as they needed longer offensive drives that occurred more regularly when they start in deep in their own territory. If Cutler gets the Bears inside the 30 where last year Orton could only get us inside the 50, he has to recognize that the team that only got inside the 50 still won 9 games last year.

It's not bad judgment, small receivers, lack of running game, or even protection (although that is a real problem). It's the play design. This is an offense predicated on short routes and play action, with the occasional long pass that takes a lot of early success to set up. It doesn't work with this personnel, but it is not designed to produce lots of points with any personnel. It is designed to chew up yards and the clock, a strategy destined to fail in today's NFL.

Are these receivers too small? No. They're catching balls running toward the line of scrimmage, not away from the defenders who just sit on every route with nothing to fear. Spread them out and get them running vertically or across the field, and they'll get separation, catch in stride, and look a lot more talented than they do now. Look at any effective passing offense in the league and you'll see that comebacks and outs are set up by slants, crosses, posts, and fades; they're not the bread and butter but the option that works when you need it because defenders have to respect the other stuff.

Briggs I love your work. But one thing I want to quibble with you about:

Seriuosly, Dan Marino was one of the best QB's ever to play the game. Ever. If Cutler has to be Dan Marino to get production out of 5'9 WR's doesn't that tell you something??? You're setting yourself up for failure.

People are good enough in the NFL that games are won and lost on the margins. Don't you think having 6'5 WR's vs. 5'9 is something that is likely to be a huge factor in where a QB can and cannot put the ball?

It's like the Bears are trying to make this a challenge for Cutler. Not only does he have no Oline, no running game, but now let's throw in small-ish WR's.

In this case, those are more than just the margins. The job of the front office is to put players in the absolute best possible position to succeed. Did the Bears put Cutler in a situation it's impossible to succeed in? No. Did they do a really crappy job giving him a situation to thrive in? Absolutely.

Considering that all they do 24/7 as their job is to put their players in the best position to succeed long-term and short-term, Jerry Angelo has been nothing short of an abysmal failure for the last 4 years. After drafting Harris, he hasn't had a single great pick on the Defensive side of the ball; he can find players that play above their value, but what good is a team of 7th rounders playing like 3rd and 4th rounders when you have nobody playing like a 1st rounder???

It's just not good enough. J.A. needs to be fired. Too bad he got that extension, because now we're going to waste Cutler's talent. The only hope is that Cutler is young enough to be around for the next, next major overhaul when the next G.M. comes to town.

Maybe then we can get serious about building a solid long-term franchise.

The only problem with that is that the Washington Redskins won a Super Bowl with a group of receivers that were dubbed the Smurfs. Dan Marino went from Miami to Canton, Ohio, zipping passes to Mark Clayton and Mark Duper for the majority of his career. Both of those guys were 5-9.

No, Cutler doesn't have a proven big target in Marshall like he did in Denver, but Greg Olsen has good size and size doesn't make every receiver. Just ask Lovie Smith and the Bears about Carolina's Steve Smith.

"The only problem with that is that the Washington Redskins won a Super Bowl with a group of receivers that were dubbed the Smurfs. Dan Marino went from Miami to Canton, Ohio, zipping passes to Mark Clayton and Mark Duper for the majority of his career. Both of those guys were 5-9".

Yeah, and the Redskins also had a HUGE O-line dubbed the Hogs, who were great at pass protection. Marino, didn't get much pressure either (ask the SuperBown winning '85 Bears).

Steve Smith is a smurf who goes after the ball, is a "go get it guy" none of our receivers are "go get it guys". It obviously matters to Cutler since he has mentioned it more than once. Way to dismiss a valid point.

theres nothing wrong with cutler, hes made a few bad plays like any other QB in the league would make. the problem i think is the bears offensive scheme. almost every play they run, theyre in a tight formation. well, how hard would that be to cover if the defense doesnt have to move around very much to cover? why shouldnt teams stuff the middle everytime on a run play, thats where the bears run it EVERY FRIGGIN TIME!!!! you never see turner calling any slant plays on 3rd and medium. why? other teams call them all the time and they work. i dont know which one of the people from here wrote the bears should come off the bus throwing in a spread offense with 4 WR's. i agree with that guy. i think they have come off the bus passing this year, but they need to spread it out by putting in 4 WR's, i think that would give jay more time to pass the ball. i also think forte would be more wide open for a little dump off pass too. but you all know turner will do the same ole crap hes been doing his whole life, and wont even consider differing from it, kinda reminds me of lovie. they do make a hell of a pair, huhhh?

I agree that there really isn't anything wrong with Cutler. He had one game against SF where he made two really bad throws. That's it.

Why is everything so much about Jay? I mean, the defenses performance against Cincinnati and Arizona was one of the worst I have EVER seen. Not to mention they let Seneca Wallace pick them apart in Seattle. Seneca Wallace? - Jesus.

Quit comparing Jay Cutler to Jeff George. That's ridiculous. Different teams, different people, different situations.

If you have eyes, you can see that the receivers and Jay are not on the same page - and in San Francisco - that was mostly on the receivers.

Ron Turner's "scheme", to quote Michael Wilbon, is "...the same junky offense they've always had." I think that's a little harsh - BUT - I am really starting to question Lovie and Ron's ability to coordinate these units.

The D hasn't been the same since Ron Rivera was fired by Lovie.
The O hasn't been the same since Thomas Jones was run out by Jerry.

I know there are injuries. Matt's hurt, Olin's hurt, Tommie's hurt (depending on who you talk to) Urlacher's out, Pisa's out. But still, I don't think Chicago should be letting the Bengals roll up 50-burgers (or 48 even) on them.

Let's face it - Cincy and Arizona may be better teams, but the Bears have enough talent to prevent 30-40 points in a HALF. That's on the coaching staff and IMO, worse than Jay throwing a red zone pick in San Francisco.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on November 18, 2009 10:56 AM.

Bears turned to Omiyale at key point in San Francisco game was the previous entry in this blog.

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