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Bears Tue Oct 28 2014

Bears Bye Week Press Conference Broken Down

Chicago BearsThe bye week press conference is essentially a mid-season state of the team address. The general manager and coach step up to the podium, and tell everyone that the timing couldn't be more perfect. Players are always injured, and a two-week stretch without playing football anytime during the season is a welcome sight.

The Bears are in a state of turmoil. 3-5 in the first half of a season with Super Bowl aspirations is an absolute nightmare considering they've had a healthy starting quarterback who happens to be the highest paid player this year. They've won games they should've lost, lost games they should've won, and capped that off by getting utterly embarrassed by Tom Brady and the Patriots on Sunday.

A lot was said during yesterday's presser. Some of it was still coach speak, but there were a few admissions of guilt after weeks of saying nothing is wrong. To get a sense of it all, here are tweets from the beat writers in attendance (in chronological order), along with a breakdown of what it all means.

The special teams mistakes have been atrocious, and though no staff changes are in store (more on that later), it's clear that Joe DeCamillis is done after this season. Sure, he doesn't have a lot of veteran aces out there every week, but there are plenty of coaches around the NFL that do just fine with young, inexperienced talent.

Special teams play has been minimized in the NFL anyway. Kickoffs are a mere exercise since they moved the ball up to the 35-yard line. Everyone complaining about Devin Hester leaving should look at his stats in Atlanta when it comes to returns. He's averaging just 22 yards on kickoff returns, and if you remove his record-setting punt return TD from earlier this year, he's averaging just eight yards on those. Plus, the Bears have forced a league-low 22 punts by their opponent, so it's not like having a dangerous returner would do them any good.

Just make sure that no more field goals get blocked, and Pat O'Donnell gets better at punting. Tress Way, the punter the Bears released in camp, leads the NFL in average at 49.7 yards per kick for Washington, and is ranked seventh in the all important net average. Pat O'Donnell is second to last in net average, partially due to some shanks and low punts, but also because of brutal coverage units. The bar is low for the special teams the remainder of the season, and DeCamillis will be looking for work in January.

Hopefully those evaluations are a lot more critical than what we hear in these press conferences on a weekly basis. Everyone is sick of hearing how well the team practices because they suck when it comes to the first quarter of games come Sunday.

Wilson was supposed to be the new weapon the offense would rely upon to keep defenders from swarming Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, but an injury during practice has ruined the redshirt freshman's season. The Bears could sure use another target because they've lacked any production from the third wide receiver spot this year, and it would give some hope that there are other weapons that can be trusted going into next season. Wilson is definitely the guy to keep an eye on during the second half.

The quote on Sunday from Marc Trestman only included the word "for." Trestman has to realize that players do respond when they are criticized, and Houston's situation was one of those times where it's perfectly fine to act and sound pissed off at a player. Houston was celebrating his first sack of the season in a blowout loss against a backup quarterback. It was stupid -- plain and simple. Being disappointed "for" him shows an incredible amount of weakness from a guy that claims to be a leader of men. That's a lot of guaranteed money that might not be ready for the start of 2015.

And there shouldn't be any changes. Firing coaches, unless it's the head coach, is silly to do during the season. Whomever you replace them with on your staff is going to either be short a coach at a key spot, or you have to bring someone in that's not up-to-speed on the material. Mel Tucker is toast after the season, and no candidate is available right now to take his spot anyway, so why fire him? Tucker's schemes are far too vanilla, as the players will attest, and his game plans are often head scratching. Free releases for Rob Gronkowski? Well that's a good way to lose quickly.

Matt Forte is, without question, a top three running back in the NFL. The Bears have used and abused him, but a good chunk of his work is coming in the passing game on dump offs. That's fine, but the lack of running plays is killing the offense. Why was Jay Cutler so successful in Atlanta? Play action passes -- a whole lot of them. Play action is based off running the ball, successful or not.

According to ESPN, the Bears are throwing the ball a league-high 63.9 percent of the time in the first three quarters with the score differential 10 points or less in either direction. The only two teams in the last decade to have higher pass percentages in those situations: the 2013 Saints, and the 2011 Packers. That's OK if your quarterback is Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers, but it's dangerous if it's Jay Cutler.

Despite losing last night, the Cowboys are the team the Bears should be looking at for an example of how to call plays. They've run DeMarco Murray into the ground this season, and though their offensive line is better than the Bears, play action is a dangerous weapon. Plus, it ensures that Cutler can't stare his receiver down from the moment the ball is snapped. That's a win win.

Ouch. Not even 10 months after guaranteeing him $54 million, a quote like that is pretty damning for the Emery and Trestman combination when it comes to player evaluation.

Part of the reason for signing Cutler long term was to take a larger cap hit this season when they had the space, and drop it for later seasons to allow the team to be flexible in filling holes on the roster. Cutler's cap number this season is $18.5 million (it was originally $22.5 million, but was lessened to free up space for Jared Allen). If he would've been franchised, his number would've been $16.192 million and the team would have no future commitments to him.

It's not fair to judge the contract just eight games in, but suffice it to say that if he was on a one-year deal, we'd be staring significant changes in the face after the season. Cutler has had a bad year, but he's not alone. The warts of this team are far more plentiful than just one position, but when it's the most important position in professional sports, it's hard not to lay most of the blame on one guy.

On October 16th, Aaron Kromer said that Mills had played 20 good football games for the Bears. So if he's played so well, why would they move him inside to an easier position? Oh yeah, that's right, because he sucked at right tackle. Kromer's quote was silly when he made it, and it looks even dumber now since the team is planning a move inside not two weeks later.

Pro Football Focus rates Mills as one of the worst tackles in the NFL the past two seasons, so it makes sense to move Mills inside. He gets beat often by speed rushers who are able to knock Mills' hands down, and that shouldn't be as much of a problem if they try playing him inside. Michael Ola wasn't great at RT on Sunday, but he's shown enough at both tackle spots that he deserves a shot on the outside. Mills had plenty of time to get better, and he wasn't showing any signs of improvement. It's pretty ridiculous that it's taken this long to make the move, but give credit to the staff for finally owning up to what was pretty clear on tape.

Well then what is it that he's lacking? Allen has played exactly two good halves of football for the Bears, and he's on the books for a substantial amount of money this year and next. Allen himself admitted that he needs to find an extra half-step during the bye week.

Is he still not 100 percent after his bout with pneumonia? That excuse is a legitimate one, but we haven't heard anymore about it since he put back on all the weight he lost. Like Houston, Allen seemed to have a solid year in 2013 at pressuring the quarterback. For some reason, it just hasn't translated into being consistently good this year. Father Time remains undefeated, it appears.

If you eliminate drops and throwaways, Brady completed 97 percent of his passes on Sunday. That's absurd. This team was supposed to be deep at cornerback, but when the front four aren't getting pressure, and the safeties aren't any good, the corners get picked on an awful lot.

This was in response to a question about Tim Jennings, and whether or not the organization thinks he's played well this season.

He hasn't been nearly as good as he has in past years, and that's scary since he was just given a contract extension in January. He grades out 31st at cornerback according to PFF, and he's that high mainly because of his excellent help against the run (where he's fourth). He's given up a ton in the passing department though -- a 110.2 QB rating when teams throw to the guy (or zone) he's covering, and that's just too high. As mentioned before, some of that is because he's getting no help from the front four getting pressure, and the safeties are playing so deep that they're not in position to help in the areas they're supposed to.

One play that stood out on Sunday was an early completion to Brandon LaFell on a simple slant route. The throw was behind the receiver and high, but he was able to reel it in before Jennings was able to get there and make the play. It was man coverage and Jennings read the play perfectly, but didn't have the closing speed to knock the ball away or out of the hands of the receiver. A step slow all year is a theme along most of the Bears defense.

In-season trades in the NFL are rarely made, and if they are, rarely have a significant impact. I'm sure teams have called and inquired about guys like Lance Briggs and Stephen Paea, who are in the final years of their contracts, but the value is never really there when you think you still have a shot at the playoffs.

Nobody in the Bears organization has an ounce of control over Marshall. Cutler probably could, but he's too busy not caring about anything off the field to try and deal with his long-time friend. Marshall is another guy the Bears extended already, and it's disappointing that he's repaid that by not finishing plays (the comeback route on Sunday that Darrelle Revis knocked away was a complete lack of effort -- though the ball should've been thrown to Jeffery).

Marshall thought he was being funny by telling the media to get closer to the door after Sunday's blowout so they could hear what was going on in the locker room. It wasn't funny at all -- just tiresome that Mr. No Noise is the loudest guy spewing semi loads of BS.

Injuries happen, and they always are at inopportune times. McClellin's problem is that he's just not talented enough, and gets beat by basic misdirection plays that are specifically designed to fool him. Opposing offenses salivate when they see him on the field, and he's not even good enough to be a starter in the nickel package. Emery doesn't want to give up on the first guy he drafted in round one, but it's time to let someone else play the position. It'll be interesting to see if Bostic starts in the base defense in Green Bay in two weeks.

Chronicled more here, but the questions are legitimate. The field is an issue, and to pretend it doesn't affect the Bears negatively is garbage. Just put in synthetic turf, or synthetically lined turf already.

So much so that he's fumbled the ball nine times, thrown eight interceptions, and had to have line checks taken away from him against Miami because he kept moving to pass plays that ended up tanking when runs were called. That's a failure on Cutler's part, but also a failure on the play caller's. Trestman also says that Cutler's been an exemplary leader when it comes to work ethic, but there's no way anyone can call him out on that. What matters is the performance between the lines on Sunday, and atrocious comes to mind far sooner than exemplary.

I think we're seeing the last year of Briggs in a Bears uniform. Injuries have now derailed his last two seasons, and the inconsistent presence at linebacker has been a factor in the defensive failures. They like what they've seen out of Christian Jones so far, and with Briggs' contract expiring, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Bears move on.

The Bears aren't completely dead yet, but they're on life support. A loss to Green Bay after the bye week essentially ends their season, and the focus will then become what's best for the future of the team. If that happens, the future of the Bears could be a new head coach.

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