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Tag:Cornell Green
Posted on: November 16, 2011 3:40 pm
 

Film Room: Bears vs. Chargers preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


The Chargers have not won a game since we featured (and lauded) them in a Week 7 Film Room post. The Bears, on the other hand, are white-hot, having won four straight in taking over the NFC wild card lead.

Here’s a five-part breakdown of the two teams in this Sunday’s late afternoon showdown at Soldier Field.


1. Quarterback
It was not long ago that the preeminent strong-armed, interception-prone quarterback in his mid-twenties with an on-field demeanor that rubbed many the wrong way was Jay Cutler. This season, however, it’s Philip Rivers.

His league-leading 15 interceptions have been genuine turnovers – not the kind of cheap tipped picks that plagued Eli Manning last season. Rivers’ downfield accuracy has waffled. He also has been uncomfortable passing from a dirty pocket. That’s alarming given that his best trait in years past has been making strong throws in the face of pressure.

Cutler knows all about operating in the face of pressure. However, lately he’s been throwing from much cleaner platforms. Because he has the strongest raw arm in football, he does not necessarily need to set his feet in order to throw. He’s a solid athlete with underrated mobility that allows him to buy time. But it’s when the time is bestowed upon him and he is able to set his feet that he gets in rhythm.

It’s not quite a Brady/Brees/Rodgers-like rhythm – Cutler has too many fundamental flaws for that – but it’s a potent enough rhythm to carry a team to victory.

2. Offensive line
The reason Cutler has been more comfortable is he trusts his pass protection. Mike Martz knows that his unathletic offensive line cannot hold up long enough to consistently protect seven-step drops, so he’s built more three-and five-step drops into the gameplan (though the Bears did drift away from this just a bit against the Lions last week). As Cutler has said, he’s potent when he has room to throw.

To be fair, the Bears offensive linemen have elevated their play as of late. Guard Lance Louis has been particularly solid since becoming the new right tackle. Losing left guard Chris Williams (on I.R. with a wrist injury) hurts because, until Gabe Carimi returns from his knee problem (he’s missed seven games and underwent arthroscopic surgery last week), Frank Omiyale will likely play. Omiyale was a train wreck at right tackle earlier this season. He played guard earlier in his career, but if he were truly viable there, he never would have moved outside. Edwin Williams replaced Chris Williams last week, but the Bears have not named him the new starter. He could still be in the mix.

Either way, offensive line coach Mike Tice will have his hands full helping this group continue performing at an acceptable level.

Rivers has felt a lot of Cutler’s old pain as of late. Left tackle Marcus McNeill has fought injuries the past few weeks; after he left the Raiders game last Thursday night, backup Brandyn Dombrowski was eaten alive. Inside, backup left guard Cornell Green, filling in for All-Pro Kris Dielman (out since suffering a concussion-related seizure after the loss to the Jets), has struggled to move his feet in pass protection.

Even though Norv Turner’s playbook is heavy on slow-developing downfield passes, the Chargers did not give the left side of their line much help last Thursday. That should change going up against Julius Peppers.

3. Receivers
Once again, these two clubs are going in opposite directions. The Bears have recently gotten healthy outside, with Earl Bennett back and showing newfound quickness. Bennett is no longer just a plodding possession slot receiver – he’s Cutler’s go-to guy. His presence has eased the burdens on the unreliable Roy Williams and permanently raw Devin Hester.

Also, what can’t be understated is the brilliance of Matt Forte. His success on the ground has given the offense balance, which helps the passing attack. Forte is also one of the best receiving backs in the league.

The Chargers, on the other hand, are without Malcom Floyd (hip injury). His absence has been ameliorated by the flashes of athletic explosiveness from rookie Vincent Brown.

However, San Diego’s usual stars have disintegrated in recent weeks. Antonio Gates has looked heavy-footed and Vincent Jackson has consistently failed to separate against man coverage. Jackson had a three-touchdown outburst against Green Bay thanks in part to some coverage busts. But in the three games before that, he caught a total of seven balls for 98 yards. Last week against Oakland, he had just one reception for 22 yards.

4. Cornerbacks
It will be tough for Jackson to reignite at Soldier Field. Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is having arguably the best season of his stellar career. Tillman thoroughly won his one-on-one battle against Calvin Johnson last week, using a mixture of aggressive press coverage and well-timed post-reception physicality from off-coverage positions.

Tillman, like all Bears cornerbacks, used to only play one side of the field. It was part of Chicago’s strict Cover 2 scheme. But as this season has progressed, Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli have drifted away from Cover 2 and more towards single-high safety concepts with the corners playing both man and zone principles. This allows the other safety to roam the field as an extra run supporter or, more often, versatile pass defender.

Consequently, the corners have moved around based on matchups. Tillman defends the opposing team’s biggest (and often most dangerous) receiver, while Tim Jennings (who is having the best season of his career) follows the smaller-but-quicker No. 2 receiver. The commendable performance of these corners is the reason Chicago has been able to spice up its defensive scheme.

In sticking with our theme, San Diego’s secondary has been increasingly disappointing the past month. Left corner Quintin Jammer and slot corner Dante Hughes have been fine, but on the right side, Antoine Cason and rookie Marcus Gilchrest have taken turns replacing one another in the starting lineup. Free safety Eric Weddle moves well and has some interceptions, but he’s not a true stopper.



5. Defensive front
A feeble pass-rush doesn’t help matters for San Diego. The loss of Shaun Phillips (still out with a foot injury) and Larry English (injured reserve) leaves the Chargers with journeymen Antwan Barnes and Travis LaBoy on the edges. Barnes is fast and has actually been as impactful as his team-high six sacks suggest. LaBoy’s run defense compensates for his low sack total (1).

Still, the bottom line is the forces that once buttressed San Diego’s pass-rushing depth are now the forces that comprise San Diego’s pass-rush period.

If the Chargers want to generate consistent pressure on the quarterback, they have to blitz. Inside linebacker Victor Butler and slot corner Dante Hughes are the two best options for this. Blitzing is not preferable for defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, though.

It’s never been preferable for the Bears. They almost exclusively use a traditional four-man pass-rush, which works when you have a deep rotation, a highly-skilled No. 2 rusher like Israel Idonije and a monster like Peppers. In an effort to create matchup problems, Peppers has been lining up at both end positions and, lately, inside on certain passing downs.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 11 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: October 30, 2010 5:38 pm
 

Week 8 injury report analysis Part II

Posted by Andy Benoit

Bills @ Chiefs

Right tackle Cornell Green (knee) remains the only Bill who has battled a significant injury this season. That’s noteworthy considering this team has led the league in IR players two of the last three years. Buffalo defensive backs Terrence McGee (back) and Jairus Byrd (thigh) are both questionable, though both were full participants in practice this week.

Kansas City’s only injury of note is Dexter McCluster’s high ankle sprain. The budding multifaceted rookie is listed as questionable, though word is he’ll likely be out multiple weeks.

Redskins @ Lions

Of the 12 Redskins listed as questionable this week, only five had less than full participation in practice: offensive tackles Jammal Brown (hip) and Stephon Heyer (ankle), safeties LaRon Landry (Achilles) and Kareem Moore (knee) and fullback Mike Sellers (foot). The Skins are growing more and more concerned about Brown’s ailing right hip – the same hip that kept him out all of last season. If he can’t play, and if Heyer can’t play (well, it’s clear Heyer CAN’T play, but in this case, we mean if he can’t play because of his ankle) then guard Artis Hicks will slide over to tackle.

The Lions will get quarterback Matthew Stafford back from the shoulder injury he suffered on Opening Day. In fact, Stafford isn’t even listed on the injury report. Rookie RB Jahvid Best is. He’s probable with a toe (and he admits it has hindered him as of late). MLB DeAndre Levy is questionable with an ankle injury that has kept him out all but one game.

Panthers @ Rams

Don’t expect Carolina’s suddenly-stagnant running game to finally get rolling this week. The team is still without RT Jeff Otah (knee) and now, RB DeAngelo Williams is out (foot). St. Louis’ own star RB underwent finger surgery this week, though Steven Jackson vows he’s going to play.

Danario Alexander is the latest Rams wide receiver to hurt his knee. At least he’s only out a few weeks, though (cartilage). Defensive tackles Fred Robbins (toe) and Darell Scott (ankle) were both limited in practice. RT Jason Smith showed concussion-like symptoms after dinging his head in practice; he’ll be replaced Sunday by Renardo Foster. It’s worth noting that Smith missed the second half of last season with a concussion.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Posted on: October 15, 2010 3:41 pm
 

Hot Routes 10.15.10 (insert TGIF cliché here)

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

Mary Garrard told Jaguars offensive coaches that they need to call more plays that allow her husband to use his mobility.

Conveniently, here is another story about an important woman in the life of another mobile AFC South quarterback who, like Garrard, is playing on Monday.

The Falcons are getting exactly what we thought they’d get in Dunta Robinson: a top cover corner who doesn’t make interceptions but improves an entire secondary.

Thanks to the Mark Clayton injury, confident (cocky?) Rams rookie Mardy Gilyard will get a chance to shine.

Deuce Lutui is not as fat as he once was.

The Bills offensive line may actually get worse in the next few weeks. Veteran right tackle Cornell Green is going to miss some time with a knee that has been problematic since late summer. Rookie Cord Howard relieved Green late against Jacksonville last week.

Ron Greene of the Charlotte Observer points out that the Panthers will go a week without a loss…thanks to the bye.

Linebacker Brian Iwuh is prepared to start Sunday for the Bears if Pro Bowler Lance Briggs (sprained ankle) is unable to go.

The Broncos want fans to get in on the fun when the team wears its orange jerseys against the Jets this Sunday. (Yes, those orange jerseys that should probably replace the blue jerseys because, let’s face it, the orange looks 10 times better.)

Mike Ditka has zero sympathy for Jenn Sterger in this whole sordid affair.

Just a formality, but Nick Barnett was placed on I.R. (Also, the Packers brought back DE Mike Montgomery.)

Why can’t more sportswriters have this kind of humility? Props to Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times.


For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow  @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

 

Posted on: August 29, 2010 11:00 am
Edited on: August 29, 2010 11:19 am
 

Hot Routes 8.29.10: Just a big ole hot mess

Posted by Will Brinson

In hindsight, yes, I'm beyond furious that I didn't use the Jay Cutler - Matt Leinart bro pic for this. Dagnabbit.

Got a link for the Hot Routes? Follow us on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL) or send an email to will [dot] brinson [at] cbs [dot] com.
  • The headline of the day pretty much has to be this one from Sean Jensen of the Sun-Times on the Bears: 'Saturday night summary: Hot mess." Yes, that makes me giggle. Almost as much as Jay Cutler getting sacked four times, throwing two picks and finishing the night with a QB rating of THIRTY ONE. Bwah. Meanwhile, in Arizona, the quarterback competition is going to come down to "chemistry with the team ." Really.
  • The fellas at The Wayne Fontes Experience make a good point: Willie Young has sacked the quarterback two weeks in a row. I have no earthly idea how he lasted until the SEVENTH round, but he'll be good. Also, guys, I'm the one driving the Jahvid Best bandwagon. You can hitch your wagon by calling 555-BEST. Also, Steve Schroder is right : why aren't they locking Detroit/Cleveland in for Thanksgiving? It's consistently more awesome than whatever else beatdown we're watching.
  • The score of the Panthers - Titans game might lead you to believe that it's the, you know, preseason. It also might lead you to believe that the Panthers defense is pretty good. As Jaxon writes at Cat Scratch Reader , that's not too far off. Offense, Tom Sorensen says at the Charlotte Observer , is "at a premium," which means that the failure/success of this season might actually hinge on the quarterback position for Carolina (once again). NO PRESSURE, Matt Moore.
  • I actually landed C.J. Spiller in a fantasy draft (for the first time) last night. I'm not upset but this news -- he is, as right tackle Cornell Green put it, "something else. " The guys at Buffalo Rumblings think the offense was "efficient and the defense was "lacking" -- if that's the biggest issue facing the Bills heading into the season, I think they take it and run.
  • Mike Tomlin has yet to announce a starting quarterback, but Ryan Wilson of Steelers' Lounge makes an excellent note : the two-headed quarterback monster of Dennis Dixon and Byron Leftwich is probably the smartest move. Or the only move. Whatever.
  • Dave Halprin of Blogging the Boys makes an astute point: this IS the preseason and all, but you still can't "wash away the stink that was the Cowboys on Saturday night." The good news is that Jerry Jones isn't that concerned ; pretty sure t that won't last if the shoddy play continues through into the regular season.
  • Not that anyone actually roots for failure, but it's kind of funny when a New York team stinks, it usually results in fun headline-writing. "Giants still 'a ways' away from being good " and "Nothing goes right for Giants " are two examples. Basically, the point that you should be getting from this is that the Giants are an "at-risk" team for 2010. On the bright side, Joe Flacco is definitely the starter in Baltimore. Which is, um, unsurprising?
 
 
 
 
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