Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why This Could be the Year of the Bears

So a little intro is necessary here. I was involved in a back and forth with friend and reader Eric Laorr (that's your shout out, you don't get another one) and wrote him this novel about how I can see Jay Cutler and Lovie Smith hoisting the Lombardi trophy next season. Without further ado here it is.

This is our year if we do three things
1. Protect Cutler
2. Grab a #1 wideout
3. Improve Cutler's throwing technique
There's a lot of pretty good guys on the open market and some guys the Bears can reach in the draft. Much as I love the idea of Titus Young on the Bears I have to  retract my idea that he would be a great fit. The Bears need a tall wideout at the one spot so they can have Knox running streaks at the two and rotate Hester and Bennett in the slot with Olsen mving out in certain sets and attacking the middle of the field. This should also maximize Hester's punt return abilities while also giving Cutler a good target to work with. The only reason I'm taking back my hope that the Bears snag Kellen Moore's best buddy is because he has a similar skill set to Knox and I'm just not down for another Chester Taylor.

It's kind of a domino effect if you think about it, but first a small anecdote...
A football coach has one open spot on his roster and the choice is between two players, he has them run a 40 to make his decision. One player has perfect technique and runs a 4.3, the other has awful form and runs a 4.3.

Which should he choose?

If you've heard this anecdote before then your reaction is to say that he should pick the second kid because that kid has more potential and upside if you teach him perfect form. The first kid has hit his ceiling.

Incidentally the same thing applies to Jake Locker but that's something that I already discussed in my mock draft a couple of posts down. The real reason I told that story is that in this case the Bears are the second kid. The Bears made it all the way to the NFC championship game while not exactly playing the kind of football conducive to championship opportunities. The line play was about as sloppy as you will ever see (See New York Giants game), their wideout corp was unimpressive at time but lacked a dynamic go to playmaker a la Brandon Marshall that made Cutler so good in Denver, the defense was solid but also had its share of failures. So why do I think this is the Bears year? Because they made it to the gateway of the Super bowl and almost won that game with not their first string, not their second string (seriously? Todd Collins?), but their third string QB who almost beat the soon to be Super Bowl champions.

That's about as poor technique as it gets and yet they still made it. With a few tweaks and improvements along the offensive line (Pouncey, Solder, Carimi or Sherrod would be good starting points for a truly awful unit) Cutler will have the time that is so critical to his success and development in a Mike Martz offense that values time above all else. With the big #1 target we  talked about earlier Cutler can finally "just lay it up there" (Jonathan Baldwin I'm looking at you) Cutler has his go to guy and conversely this receiving core has a player who can distract a defense from the woefully under rated Johnny Knox and solid playmaker within the offense like Forte, Olsen, Hester or Bennett.

Finally it's time for the second year of the Cutler-Martz marriage to take on an important part of marriage, making the person you're bound to into a better person. Martz has to spend time hammering Cutler on the details of his footwork, stance and overall decision making. Cutler is a gun slinger, nothing is going to change that but somebody has to teach him to take an extra second (which he'll have thanks to his new linemen) to evaluate how fast he would have to sling the ball to fit it through that impossibly tight hole.

Cutler's formative years as a QB have been spent in the midst of two cardinal sins of QB development: Poor O-line play and inconsistent play calling. Cutler went to Vandy and while it is damned impressive in anybody to make it through SEC football Cutler is a special case. Trapped behind a line that couldn't hope to compare with the size and speed of most SEC D-lines Cutler had to count on fleet feet and a rocket arm to keep the season alive. The upside is Cutler can throw on the run just as well as Rodgers, but but he is prone to thinking he can make any play at any time and struggles at times to just give up on the play. Which is sometimes the smartest decision. He throws in all sorts of strange angles anc ontrotions of his body out of habit, some technique work would really improve his accuracy. Cutler must stay in Martz's system if he is to grow into an elite QB instead of just an elite talent. Otherwise the Bears run the risk of turning him into a MUCH more talented version of Alex Smith, who never realized any of his potential and will go down as a massive bust. WHile Smith will go down many other reasons, the constantly revolving doorat OC will be the dagger that nobody remembers.

So those are my three tips to a succesful Bear season. From the other side of the endzone this is Veintidos.

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