Bears too cold when it comes to executing hot reads
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Lost in the criticism of the Bears' porous offensive line and Mike Martz's play-calling — both well deserved, by the way — has been the responsibility of Jay Cutler to get the ball to the "hot" receiver, and the responsibility of those receivers to defeat one-on-one coverage.
On almost half of the Bears' 52 pass plays the New Orleans Saints came with either six or seven pass rushers, meaning that most, if not all, of the Bears' receivers were facing single coverage. In those situations there is a designated "hot" receiver, and that's where the ball is supposed to go for the best chance of making the defense pay for gambling or for the Bears to avoid a sack.
Contrary to Sunday's performance, running back Matt Forte is not the "hot" receiver on every play; it just looked that way because Forte had 10 catches and was targeted by Cutler 14 times.
Of course, that was because Cutler had to dump the ball anywhere he could before he was inundated by players in black and gold jerseys.
For most of the game, undrafted rookie Dane Sanzenbacher was the slot receiver after Earl Bennett went out with a painful chest injury that may also include some internal damage. The rookie was targeted seven times and caught three balls for 33 yards, including an 8-yard TD and a drop.
Sanzenbacher played well enough for a rookie, but the Bears missed Bennett, who is their most reliable and sure-handed receiver even though he is often overlooked.
Other than those two, the Bears' wideouts didn't do much to help the offense. Devin Hester was targeted nine times and had just 1 catch. He also had at least 1 drop. Johnny Knox was targeted six times and caught 2 passes for 45 yards.
Part of their ineffectiveness was due to Cutler's inaccuracy, but that was partly the result of poor protection — and not just from the offensive line. Tight end Kellen Davis threw a "look out" block on Turk McBride. In other words, he whiffed on the defensive end and then should have yelled "look out," to Cutler, who was blindsided, fumbled and lost the ball at the Bears' 29-yard line.
The Saints scored to go up 23-13, and the Bears never got closer than that.
Getting back to Forte, he has accounted for 324 of the Bears' 623 net yards (52 percent) through two games. Whatever general manager Jerry Angelo was offering him as a signing bonus before their contract extension talks broke off in the preseason — best guess is around $12 million — he should throw in an extra couple million right now.
If Angelo doesn't get Forte signed soon, and the four-year veteran continues at his current pace, it's going to cost the Bears twice as much to sign him when he becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Or he will go to the highest bidder, which probably won't be the Bears.
Kicking to all corners:
• The $40,000 fine that the league slapped on Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson for his vicious hit on Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin Sunday night isn't enough.
As a repeat offender, he nearly decapitated Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson last season, and now Robinson should be suspended without pay.
There are more than enough injuries in the NFL that happen on legal plays. The illegal ones, especially such as Robinson's potentially career-ending hits, should be punished more severely.
• FOX-TV's admission that it used "misleading" headlines critical of Jay Cutler is shameful.
The Week One broadcast suggested the headlines appeared after last year's NFC title game. Two of the "headlines" read: "Cutler Lacks Courage" and "Cutler's No Leader". Neither headline ever was published in any newspaper.
"It was misleading," admitted FOX Sports spokesman Dan Bell.
Misleading my Astrodome.
It was blatantly libelous.
• Follow Bob's Bears reports via Twitter @BobLeGere and check out our Bear Essentials blog at dailyherald.com.
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