Posts Tagged ‘Ron Turner’

Bears Offer Blue Print To Attack the 3-4 Defense

September 2, 2009

The current NFL fad that seems to have taken hold around the league is the 3-4 defense. With the recent success that the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots have had with the scheme, in a league of imitators, there is a lot of new teams running the scheme.

It also just so happens, that the Bears start the season against two 3-4 defensive scheme teams in the Packers and the Steelers. Both teams are early pre-season contenders for the playoffs, with the Steelers being defending Super Bowl champions and having one of the most dominant defenses in the league.

With this in mind what is the best way for the Bears to deal with the 3-4 defense? Fortunately the Bears likely have the best way to match up with a 3-4 right away and the versatility this offensive scheme offers is invaluable in attacking the 3-4. The two tight end set is ideal for attacking the 3-4 defense, as was shown in early returns against Broncos.

Yes the Broncos don’t have the ideal personnel to run the 3-4, but it does force the Bears to scheme for it. This is what the Bears were able to do with ease and they were effective in both running and passing against the defensive front. The Broncos tended to attack with a five man front against the Bears on rushing situations. The Bears attacked it well with the two-TE set. Olsen and Clark were able to take on the OLBs who they match up well with, and this allowed the Bears to double team the nose tackle.

As everyone knows the engine that makes a 3-4 successful is the NT. He needs to be able to square up on the center, and he’s responsible for two gaps on the defense. If you get a good double team block on him, usually you can negate his effectiveness. Even if it’s only an initial scrape block so that the center or guard can move on to the second level and attack a linebacker it gives the offense the advantage.

One of the main advantages is the versatility the TEs offer. They can attack the OLBs (which is the second key to the 3-4) in the run game, block them straight up in the pass game, or they can sprint out in passing game off of play-action fakes. Evidence the play-action pass to Desmond Clark that went for 25-yards on a third and one play. During that play the linebacker cheated up to stop the run, lined up head up on Clark. Clark threw a little scrape block and then took off on his route. Jay Cutler rolled out of the pocket away from where the lineman took their play-action run block steps to and negated the pass rush. From here it was a simple pass to a wide open Clark that just broke the back of the Broncos.

Since a two TE set also allows the offense to to dictate the game plan to the defense and make them adjust, it puts the offense at a consistent advantage. By utilizing the versatility of a two TE set the Bears can attack with two double teams on the NT and then one of the DEs or elsewhere.

Also the Bears don’t have to keep the two TEs lined up head up on the LBs, one of them can line up in the FB spot thus still giving them a different formation look. Either way the key here is negating the 3-4s versatility and forcing them to react to your set.

The Bears are able to do this better than any team in the NFL with their high versatile TEs. The question is when Desmond Clark gets long in the tooth do the Bears draft another TE that offers as much versatility? Do they keep the two TE set around with Olsen grooming his eventual replacement? I believe so long as the Bears are able to show consistent success against the 3-4 front with the two TE set they should continue to take advantage of it.

Prospect Preview WR Kenny Britt

April 9, 2009

Is it all possible that Kenny Britt will still be on the board when the Bears draft in the second round? The 49th pick overall is the first pick the Bears have in the draft, after the Jay Cutler trade. What is the potential that they would trade up to land a prospect like Britt at the back end of the first round or the front end of the second round?

We won’t have these questions answered until the day of the draft, but this much is certain based on Britt’s size, speed, athletic ability and his rising stock he may be one of the most intriguing prospects the Bears are scouting personally.

Ron Turner took in Kenny Britt’s pro-day personally, plus the Bears worked him out privately to even further evaluate this 6-foot-3 210-pound wide receiver prospect. Britt is intriguing because in everything he does, he does it well. At his pro-day he dropped one pass the entire workout session, and improved his 40-yard-dash time running a 4.48 and a 4.47. He showed solid hands the ability to keep the ball out in front of him instead of letting it get into his body. Plus he is a strong receiver a great prospect for his run after the catch ability and a player who is not afraid to go over the middle and bowl over CBs and safeties to get those tough extra yards. Perhaps the most underrated aspect of his game is his willingness to block in the run game.

Some of the negatives reported by scouts are that at times he drops passes from a lack of concentration and his route running is not as polished as scouts would like. The thing is you really have to dig deep to find negatives about Kenny Britt because he has shown to be productive and consistent. His production level doesn’t lie
rec yards avg TDs
2007 13 62 1,232 19.9 8
2008 12 87 1,371 15.8 7

Plus he is the all-time leading receiver in the Big East conference.

Mike Mayock of the NFL network rates him as the fifth best WR prospect on the draft board which is about as high as I’ve seen him rated.

Areas of concern some scouts say his hands aren’t as consistent as you’d like. Plus there are rumors of attitude problems and a cocky attitude that may cause him to slide on some draft boards.

Personally I don’t think is a real lack of a problem from Britt when you see his level of production throughout his career. Not every prospect the Bears will be scouting will be an ideal top-5 prospect who comes in and makes an immediate impact on the level that a lot of fans are hoping for. Receiver is a very complicated position to learn and develop in, but you take probably the best positives you can find out of a prospect and make your draft decision based on that.

Britt fits that role almost ideally to what the Bears need, he is tall, long arms, big hands and again the willingness to block is what the Bears need in this offense in the first place.

Fans can come along and nitpick Britt for this or that, prospects at this point have been analyzed again and again. Negatives can be found on even the best of them. But for my money I am comfortable with any receiver the Bears go after that has the attributes that Britt brings to the table.

Phil Simms talks about the Jay Cutler trade

April 3, 2009

Beginning our extended wall to wall coverage of the Jay Cutler trade and getting expert opinion and analysis on the trade and it’s impact. We’ll gather opinions from around the league and multiple media sources and compile them all into this blog.

The first bit of information we get is from one of the most respected analysts in the league and on TV. Former New York Giants and CBS analyst Phil Simms. If anyone is going to give a fair assessment it will be Simms because he’s covered AFC games for CBS for quite a number of years now. Simms has seen Cutler first hand and dealt with the Broncos and Mike Shannahan .

Simms felt after seeing Cutler at Vanderbilt that he was the best player available in the draft. He still wonders to this day why people even argue this point between Leinart, Young and Cutler, because Cutler clearly had all the tools. Cutler has proven himself behind two QBs who came from two bigger programs and had a ton more respect coming out of college. Not coincidentally though the NFL always has a way of evening things out.

Simms brought up what has been talked about regarding Cutler’s nimbleness in the pocket, his athletic ability to extend the play and then how great he is at throwing on the run. This is one of Cutler’s advantages is that with his arm strength he can still make throws while on the run, he doesn’t need to reset his feet and then throw he can just flick his wrist to a receiver who make deek a CB who has his eyes on Cutler and then get open. This will be specifically beneficial to Devin Hester who will be able to use his speed and elusiveness to get open down the field if Cutler is flushed from the pocket.

Simms talked about how Cutler led a great offense with an awful defense and helped his team be successful. The offense the Broncos had was second in the league and none of that was a result of pure passing. Cutler’s passing helped by the running game was still averaging 4.5 yards a rush. When the Broncos’ defense gave up less than 21 points per game Cutler was 13-1 as the starter, and the Bears defense for all it’s shortcomings gave up less than 21 points eight times last season, translating to what would be eight wins for the Bears. From there that would translate to eight likely victories with Cutler possible pushing the Bears over the top in two to four more games, giving the Bears at least a Wild Card berth.

While Simms has not seen a lot of the Bears’ games (covering the AFC) the game he has seen he felt that the offense usually played well enough to win, but that it was the defense that struggled. Most Bears fans would agree with that assessment about the defense which struggled while on the field in pre-season too.

Simms went on to talk about whether or not his attitude would effect things coming into the Chicago Bears. All the drama coming from Denver to Chicago and the two week long soap opera, and Simms was just as adamant about Cutler’s make up as he was his talent. Simms stated that he was still on the Cutler band wagon and that this was a great trade for the Bears. He didn’t understand why anyone would give up a franchise QB. You draft a guy like Mathew Stafford, in hopes that he BECOMES Jay Cutler. Well with Cutler you already have a proven product, and talent. That proven commodity that you hope you get when you draft. Plus you look at the hit and miss parts of first round draft picks and it really opens your eyes.

Simms brought up his conversations with Mike Shannahan and Shannahan never had anything bad to say about his QB. He never had a private conversation that said something like “well yeah he’s a great talent, great arm, good production, but he’s not a leader or a team guy. None of the coaches in Denver, none of the players ever had anything bad to say about Cutler. He was the type of professional you want your QB to be, a leader who doesn’t flinch in the face of pressure.

Simms then went on to speak of his experience of playing under Bill Parcell’s who said essentially you don’t have to be liked by everyone on the team. You don’t have to get along with everyone, your job is not to be the popular guy on the team and even if you try hard not everyone is going to like you. Your job is to be a leader of men and a leader on the field and Simms feels that Cutler has that.

Beyond the overall trade Simms spoke about the new dimension to the Bears offense Cutler brings. The play calling will change, the play design will change the receivers’ production will improve. Different scenarios will be handled better, and there will be a more open play book for the Bears to run. If the defense gets back to being extraordinary the Bears could go far into the playoffs. He already feels they are a playoff team (they were one game away from the playoffs last year).

Simms was also excited about Jerry Angelo and his statement that “if we were going to get into the Jay Cutler trade talks, we were in it to win it.” Angelo became adamant about getting a deal done and not letting this one pass him by. It’s one of the most unique situations in the history of the league when you have a franchise QB entering the prime of his career likely to be a multi-year Pro Bowl selection. Cutler is a proven QB and Simms felt that it’s going to work out great for the Bears and he didn’t really speak to any negatives coming in this deal.

It’s truly hard to argue with Simms’ assessment and I for one have a lot of respect for Simms as an analyst who does his homework knows his stuff and doesn’t run his mouth for the sake of having an opinion. The most important aspect is there is no guarantee the Bears were going to be able to get a great player from their next two draft picks.

You can find successful players in free agency and in the second to fifth rounds of the draft. Angelo has done this time and time again and has built a successful team around it. Plus with 2010 likely to be a non salary cap year the Bears could really be in a position to add to their franchise and solidify it for the next decade. We can sit here and look back at the first month of free agency (it was exactly a month of free agency before the trade happened) and be critical about Omiyale, Bullocks and Shaffer. But the bottom line is Jerry Angelo just made a move that instantly improves the Chicago Bears. He made a bold move that may go down as the most impressive trade in the history of the league.

Mini-Camp Position Breakdown: TEs

March 17, 2009

The only reason the Chicago Bears had an even remotely productive passing game last year was because of tight ends Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark’s level of play. They were essentially the only real threats in the passing game. They were at times under utilized but also at times completely taken out of the game.

Olsen is to date one of Jerry Angelo’s most successful first round draft picks. Which is really saying anything given the inconsistent level of player from Olsen. Why do I label Olsen as inconsistent? Because all to often last year teams were able to shut him down with their nickel back. Yes that is to say typically a CB or a safety shut Olsen down and kept him covered well enough that he wasn’t in a position to consistently be a threat within the offense. For the Chicago Bears’ offense to be successful and consistent in 2009 Greg Olsen is going to have to change that. Olsen needs to use his size to out muscle any player that is trying to make a play on the ball.

Mini-camp focus should almost primarily consist of Kevin Payne and Charles Tillman harassing Olsen on everyone of his passing routes in man to man coverage. Given Tillman’s physical play as a corner he would be the perfect guy to help develop his skills. Unfortunately neither Tillman or Payne will be participating in the mini-camp so the staff will have to find more ways to punish Olsen. The most important aspect of Olsen’s game is that he should be nearly unstoppable for a player of his size and athleticism. Olsen ran a 4.5 in the combine workout, he’s 6-foot-5 252-pounds so he should easily be dominating in this league. This will be his chance to show he’s taken his game to a new level in preparation for 2009.

Desmond Clark simply makes plays when called upon. Unfortunately Clark is not called upon all to often so his production is limited. Even though Clark is the past and Olsen the future there is still enough consistency in his game that he could be a weapon to help in the consistency in the passing game. Working both TEs into the rotation and offensive game plan at the same time should be given more consideration by Ron Turner. It adds another dimension to the offense and could give the Bears more consistency on third down.

Rookie Kellen Davis had a pretty remarkable first year. He wans’t expected to even make the team by most accounts. But he fought his way on to the team via his blocking ability and special teams play. What would be nice is Davis developing into a mildly consistent pass catching threat over the next couple of years. Davis is after all a TE that is supposed to catch passes. Though his role will never likely be on the level of Greg Olsen. Running a two TE set of the future with both Davis and Olsen being capable of blocking and catching passes would help in the even the Bears move on from the older Desmond Clark or Clark moves on wanting to seek a chance to start.