Chicago Bears Training Camp Report: Day 4

The fourth day of training camp provided a glimpse into what the Bears can expect with Jay Cutler behind center. Yes there was the inconsistency that a lot of people talked about, but that comes with the territory. But where Cutler shown through the most brightly was in the two-minute offensive drill that closed out practice. This is where QBs earn their money and where they need to be at their best to help teams win. All the great QBs of all-time rise up and take the game over and win it on any stage even the grandest stage of them all the Super Bowl.

We’re all familiar with Joe Montana’s drive in the 1988 Super Bowl where he drove the 49ers down in the final minutes and won the game with a touchdown pass to John Taylor. Montana was a two-minute drive king as were other greats like John Elway, Dan Marino, and even one not so great QB Jake Plummer was pretty clutch in crunch time (My ASU bias aside).

This is what the Bears can expect to see from Cutler sharp crisp passes that come like they’re fired out of a cannon. On target in between tight spaces, when there is an opening there will be no hesitation because the gun slinger that Cutler is will pull the trigger. As cliche as it sounds it’s precisely what the Bears need someone who can make plays in the two minute drive. While the Bears have seen this before with some of Kyle Orton’s success last year and Brian Griese’s success the year before against the Eagles, Bears fans want that consistency. They want a QB to step up and win games for them when the defense has a bad day. They want a commanding presence in the huddle that is going to get the job done in the face of adversity. This is what Cutler represents and what he showed in the two-minute offense.

The obvious exception is it comes in the fact that is was only during practice. Full pads practice yes, but when it will matter most is during the final six games of the season where the playoff pairings are most often decided.

While I may sound a bit over dramatic in my assessment given that it was ONLY fall camp it is a good sign that Cutler is starting to figure out the offense enough to run the two minute offense. Again I preach that yes it matters most that Cutler is successful when it matters in a game, I recognize that. However you want to see your QB picking up the complexities of a new offense quickly and to be able to run the offense without a huddle and under pressure. That is what the two-minute offensive drill is all about. Being able to make mistakes and then correct them, finding out that you didn’t know as much as you thought and being able to add to your tool box. The good news is Cutler knows enough to be successful at this point of training camp. This is what you hope for right now, that he can run the two-minute drill confidently and with a sense of charge. Cutler did that and we’ll see what happens going forward.

On the other side of the ball Brian Urlacher is starting to look like his old self. He’s healthy and a year removed from the neck surgery that slowed him throughout most of ’08. Urlacher is starting to make plays in the open field in zone coverage and is still fully in charge of the defense. Urlacher making plays and reverting to the form you come to expect from him is what all Bears fans want to see. He is in year 10 so you may not see the Urlacher that was on the same level as the defensive player of the year he was. But what you will get is someone capable of leading a revamped defense that can attack and make plays in coverage and from side line to side line. There are those signs that Urlacher is in better health now and can play at a high level.

Elsewhere on defense Tommie Harris is participating for the most part. While he’s not a full participant all of the time, he is a full participant MOST of the time. The Bears are obviously going to bring him along slowly much the same way they’re bringing along Matt Forte right now, but the good news is Harris is out there. He is making plays and he is being disruptive in the three-technique slot. He is not perfect and out there all the time, but there are more positive signs coming from Harris’ participation than there has been in the past. He is more healthy and he is in there practicing which is good news. While yes he may not be doing all the things the Windy City Nation is expecting, he is out there and playing. Some credit for Harris’ attendance is due, and he gets it from me in this case. Is it fair to slam on the Bears for bringing Matt Forte along slowly right now after his injury? No so it’s not fair to slam Tommie Harris who is doing more than he has in the past.

Also on defense the play of Jarron Gilbert is continuing to stand out. Gilbert right now is settling in at the three-technique DT spot in the Cover-2. The most important aspect that Gilbert is just the right type of player to get in and play the three-technique. He is naturally big, explosive and fast, he gets off the ball and attacks the gap. He has knifed through plenty of times and made plays behind the line of scrimmage. Showing the he can be the backup behind Tommie Harris this season and possibly be successful given the Bears rotate their DTs so often. Gilbert’s play is a great sign for the defense as the more defensive lineman the Bears have that can make plays behind the line of scrimmage the better it will be for them on defense as a whole.

Elsewhere Zack Bowman still is on top of his game making plays and being aggressive. There was a couple plays where he may have been flagged for interference, but you want to see that out of your CBs. Aggressiveness in coverage and in trying to make plays on the ball. Yes of course there will be times where you may get frustrated with a CB for making a penalty. But you prefer to have a CB who is aggressive first and foremost and make plays.

On the injury front Lance Briggs and Hunter Hillenmeyer were back in action after sitting on Sunday with “general soreness”. Veterans obviously get this chance to sit practices based on how long they’ve been with the Bears or how long they’ve been in the league.

Tyler Reed is a guard that is actually showing some impressive aspects to his game. Surprisingly he is having a good camp to this point. I wouldn’t say he’ll make the roster but he is going to make the decision hard on the coaches on who to keep and who is going to be cut.

Lastly DT Marcus Harrison who has been held out of camp this far due to his weight problem looks like he’ll be back and ready to go possibly by this Saturday. He hopes to be back on the field and in the fold at that time. Missing one week of practice while detrimental to his development isn’t the end of the world for the second year player. Harrison has been there for all of the meetings and film sessions so it’s not quite the same as being a hold out and missing time that way.

For more in-depth discussion on the Chicago Bears’ training camp go to Midway Illustrated

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