The Bears should re-sign Jay Cutler. That’s right I said it! Sure you’ve heard me have my doubts about him in the past (read my article “What To Do With Jay Cutler”). But I think that he proved on Sunday, in the NFC North Championship game against the Packers, that he, at age 30, has the right stuff to be our quarterback for the next four to five years, if not beyond. Sure we lost the game, but our offense put up 28 points. And in the days of old, if a Bears team could score 28 points, it was almost assuredly a win. The problem with this Bears team, is the defense. And no play could be more indicative of just how poorly this defense has played all year, than the one where Julius Peppers caused Aaron Rodgers to fumble, and no Bears player went for the ball. They ALL just thought or assumed it was a forward pass. I know longer think it’s crazy looking, when players pick up the ball, even when it’s sorta obvious, and run it back until they hear the refs whistle over and over again.
The Bears lost by 5 points, so that play right there was the difference. James Anderson and a few other Bears players had a chance to pick that ball up. Or at least stop the Packers Jarrett Boykin from doing so. I fumed on Facebook and Twitter immediately, that Mel Tucker needs to be fired, because obviously that is something that isn’t being taught! To scoop up the ball and try to score. To play until the whistle. Maybe that explains all the long runs against this Bears team. Players are not rallying to the ball, figuring it’s enough guys over there to make the tackle. And next thing you know, you see Eddie Lacy or some other running back, breaking out of the pile and bearing down on Chris Conte, who is unfortunately, our last line of defense. As one of my Facebook friends pointed out, to think we could have picked up Ed Reed. I wonder if that thought crossed Phil Emery or Mel Tucker’s mind.
I even wanted to create a “Fire Mel Tucker” fan page on Facebook. But since I wouldn’t ever want to be associated with encouraging someone to be fired, unless they obviously deserved it, I let go of that anger, and decided to see just why this year’s defense was so awful, other than the many injuries. When Mel Tucker was the Defensive Coordinator in Jacksonville, he ran a 3-4 scheme. The Bears have always, I said always ran a 4-3. Now why would you hire a 3-4 scheme coordinator, when your players are used to a 4-3, that was mistake number one. Mel Tucker came in and said, or it was decided, rather than the players adapt their way of playing for me, I will adapt my way of coaching for them. Now that sounded good in training camp, but now it appears it was a terrible mistake.
I’m all for giving Mel Tucker another year to potentially prove his worth. This time, I would want the Bears to do the 3-4 scheme which he is used to coaching. Put Julius Peppers and Corey Wooton on the ends, and Henry Melton in the middle, if he’s healthy. After the injuries to all the interior lineman, Wooton had to move inside, and played out of position, yet still had a very good year. He was always seen hustling to the ball, no matter how downfield it was. On draft night, many analysts questioned the Bears drafting Shea McClellin in the first round. One good thing they did have to say about Shea, is that he has a great motor. Perhaps he can be that 4th linebacker that stands up sometimes and provides an outside rush. Getting a running start, may help him get to the quarterback more. My other criticism of Mel Tucker, is that every pass rush was basic. There was no stunting by the lineman, and even when he blitzed, never were any delayed. You’re making the offensive line’s job easy, as the Bears rarely got to the quarterback this year.
As for Jay Cutler and his contract, I would think, that with Josh McCown’s great play, his bargaining position with the Bears, has been greatly diminished. Every team is always looking for a franchise quarterback. And with a spectacular season, Jay Cutler would have easily been worth $15 million per year, which is what the Lions Matthew Stafford makes. But now, I would say he is worth $12 million, which is Matt Ryan money. It’s only a $2 million per year increase over his previous contract, and I’m sure it’s not what he’s looking for. But it’s the price he pays for the injuries and inconsistencies the team has had to experience with him. Now he is a free-agent, and therefore is free to shop his services to other teams. But if he wants to take a couple million more per year to go someplace else, and start all over again, I wish him well, and the Bears will go on with Josh McCown at a much cheaper rate. I’m thinking less than $5 million.
I don’t know much about salary caps, and I won’t pretend to. But I do know, that whether the Bears re-sign Jay Cutler or not, there will be some money to spend in free-agency. And at the top of my list is a new safety. A veteran safety is what the Bears need, whether it be free or a strong one. They can then, possibly draft the other one. I’ve heard good things about Buffalo Bills free safety Jairus Byrd. So that leaves strong safety. And drafting someone, I would say in the mold of Seattle’s Kam Chancellor, a 6’3″ 232 lb. beast of a man, would go a long way in improving the Bears horrible rush defense. One mock draft that I looked at, has the Bears taking a cornerback in the first round. Soon to be 33, I don’t think the Bears will be re-signing Charles Tillman. Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo will also be a free-agent. He had 10 sacks last year, and that is something the Bears sorely missed. Even though I have every confidence in Jonathan “Boom” Bostic, getting a player of Orakpo’s status, and he’s only 27, couldn’t do anything but help this defense. And as evidenced by this year, they need all the help they can get.
So these are my thoughts on the Bears going forward. And head coach Marc Tressman has some things to learn too. He wasted a 2nd half timeout challenging whether Alshon Jeffery scored on that long pass play, when you got three downs to punch it in from the half-yard line. Maybe Mel Tucker and the rest of the defense should watch some game film of the ’85 Bears. Not so much for scheme, but to get an idea of the ferociousness and intensity that you must bring, on every play, when playing defense in the NFL. And teaching “The Peanut Punch” wouldn’t hurt.
Written by Pennie Beasley
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