On the other 20, the Chicago Bears are 3-2 (2-1 home) and led by their own “Franchise” quarterback in Jay Cutler, who is having one of his best seasons. Jay is currently ranked 8th in QBR, 5th most in TDs, 8th highest completion % (65.7), and has only been sacked 9 times – 25th lowest.
So why is the 2x Super Bowl champion Eli Manning having such a hard time in 2013, and Jay Cutler flourishing?
For the past 3/4 years Jay Cutler’s potential has been hindered by a defensive minded Head Coach in Lovie Smith; dinosaur like offensive coordinators in Ron Turner, Mike Martz and Mike Tice; and one of the worst pass blocking offensive lines in football. When the Bears decided to part ways with Lovie Smith and bring in Marc Trestman, the landscape of the Bears offense would change for the forever better.
Most fans think of Marc Trestman as this very successful CFL head coach, who had a system that may not work in the NFL, but Trestman has been in the NFL since 1985. Trestman was the offensive coordinator and called plays for some of the best offenses and QBs in NFL History. Trestman called plays for the 1995 San Francisco 49ers led by Steve Young that went 11-5. He also called plays for the 2002 Oakland Raiders led by Rich Gannon, who also went 11-5 and got to the Super Bowl. Trestman has been in the NFL from 1985-2004, before a 1-year college football stint, and then went to the Montreal Alouettes and completely revolutionized Canadian Football forever, winning back to back Grey Cups.
For the first time in Cutler’s career he has a Head Coach in Marc Trestman, who is going to work on Jay every minute of every practice and game. Trestman preaches throwing the football downfield via a “Read It, Throw It” west coast philosophy. He preaches throwing the football where the defense isn’t, and when you take enough of those chances, you will eventually be rewarded with big plays. He can deal with turnovers, as long as the big plays offset them (perfect for Jay huh?). Trestman is the perfect fit for Jay on the passing end, and with the Trestman hire of Saints pass blocking guru, Aaron Kromer … YOU GOT A SICK PLAN YO.
Aaron Kromer was hired by the Chicago Bears this offseason as the Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line coach. He had recently served with the New Orleans Saints over the past 5 seasons, and last year was the intern head coach after bounty gate. Now although the Saints did not have such a great season in 2012 with Kromer as the interim Head Coach (6-10), they did finish 2nd in offense, 3rd in scoring, & 3rd in fewest sacks allowed. Kramer was also part of the Super Bowl winning Saints team that led the NFL in total offense and points.
Kramer and Trestman go back to that 2002 Oakland Raiders Super Bowl team, when both were on staff for that #1 offense that lead the league in yards.
Kramer’s expertise comes in offensive line protection, and his 4 years coaching the offensive line in New Orleans proved just that: Kromer sent “five linemen to a combined nine Pro Bowls and tied for the fewest sacks allowed in the NFL with 96. The all-stars included tackles Jermon Bushrod (2012) and Jon Stinchcomb (2010), guards Jahri Evans (2010-13) and Carl Nicks (2011-12) and center Jonathan Goodwin (2010)” (ChicagoBears.com). This is perfect for a Bears team that over the past 3 years have given up the 8th, 5th and 1st most sacks in the NFL.
When you combine a QB guru like Trestman, a pass blocking guru like Kromer, and a QB in Cutler … you are going to flirt with greatness!
Now how do we know we can trust Jay Cutler? Well first, Jay for sure has the star QB like potential. If you recall before Chicago, Cutler had a 2008 season where he had 4,526 yards with the 4th highest QBR in league at 72.1, which is just jaw dropping - especially for a QB's third year. To put that 72.1 QBR in perspective that is more than Brees/Kaepernick had last year, Matt Ryan had in his stellar 2011, Peyton/Rodgers/Brees in 2010, Favre (Min)/Rodgers/Brady in 2009 etc…
So then the question comes up about Jay’s mental makeup and ability to win the big games… because we have all head these hundreds of time… “Jay always throws the late pick, always makes that bad read, isn’t much a leader, isn’t clutch etc…” But weren’t people saying that about Eli Manning before his 2007 Super Bowl run? My rule is don’t judge a QB UNTIL you put them in the RIGHT SPOT, not just a BIG SPOT. Cutler is in his RIGHT SPOT NOW…so judge him NOW. I think he will be easily be considered a top 10 quarterback after a couple Trestman season.
Here are two main reasons Eli and co are dying with this Giants offense. (1) They are not efficient being pass happy and can’t run through the pass which you need to be pass happy…and (2) they have no premiere running back to scare anyone.
The Giants have caught the pass happy virus like many teams have in the NFL. It’s the new hot thing to do, so let’s all do it. I mean the Giants have ELI MANNING, ya know? The Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins, and Baltimore Ravens all did the same thing. I mean they have Big Ben, RGIII and Super Bowl Joe. All once run heavy teams have ditched the run game, and now want their QBs to do everything like they did at points last year. BAD CALL ALERT. This year all those QB I just named are having awful season with tons of turnovers.
Problem with these quarterbacks is; Eli especially, they are not equipped to run pass heavy offenses because they are not dependent on the short field (10 yards and in). Combined with the fact that their head coaches and offensive coordinators do not understand how to put together an efficient pass happy philosophy .. these guys are committing turnovers at will…trying to make a simple 5 yard completion on a 1 and 10 into an attempt at 25 yards and a PICK. Most of these QBs, and Eli in particular have big arms made for the PA, & do not have the necessary touch and mindset to be able to put together an efficient passing offense that utilizes the short field without a high turnover rate. They are looking deep all the time, and the offensive coordinators are many times dialing it up like that. Remember the deeper you look/throw the higher the turnover rate. Drop backs take longer = high fumble risk. Throw is in the air longer = less accurate = easier for DBs to make a play on it.
To be pass happy you must run through the pass. Running through the pass means a QB will throw a high amount of passes, many of them short (slants, quick hitches, quick outs, WR screens/bubbles), and pick up small chunks of yards that move the chains 5/6 yards with a very minimal turnover rate, like a running back would on first down. Similar to what Tom Brady has lived off, Alex Smith, and even Drew Brees. To be successful in this run through pass, one must not only complete a high % of balls, but hit WRs on the numbers so they can get immediately run up field without the slightest of catch extensions, which take up time to get up field and put def players in bad positions.
Eli Manning and the Giants offensive philosophy is not understanding of how to piece together an efficient pass happy offense, and even if they could; I don’t think Eli is right for it.
What the Giants used to do and it worked great, was run on first down and get some sort of positive yardage (4ish yards), then on second down you have the run option with a PA bomb threat, and then 3rd down becomes manageable (or short) … and that is ELI TIME … 3rd and manageable/short. That is when the Giants can throw short, long, or even run. Remember how many times the Giants would give Bradshaw a shotgun handoff on 3rd down, and he’d pick up the first. Having that run threat on all downs, especially third down, was what made Eli so good on 3rd down.
Now the Giants get NOTHING on 1st down. When they try to run RBs are not getting anything because not good enough/O line weak, and when they throw it is ineffective because a run on 1st is not scary and Giants aren’t passing efficiently w/no run threat. Short passes are even inaccurate causing short gains. Then 2nd down becomes a long down, and Giants literally have no threat of a run, so DBs just play deep. This forces tough throws into vulture coverages, and this eventually sets stage for 3rd and longs or PICKS. The RB is never even the slightest threat when you play the Giants. Now if they had an elite/premiere running back they could get away with this, even with a bad O line, since great RBs can make bad O lines look good. But that is not the case.
Funny because looking back on the numbers and teams, Tom Coughlin has always had 1 or 2 premier runningbacks during any of his successful (winning) seasons ...
Coughlin’s Winning Teams & Rushing Attacks
- JAGS 1996 (9-7): Stewart + Means = 1,230 yards, 10 TDs
- JAGS 1997 (11-5): Stewart + Means = 1,378 yards, 17 TDs
- JAGS 1998 (11-5): Taylor = 1,223 yards, 14 TDs
- JAGS 1999 (14-2): Taylor + Stewart = 1,663 yards, 19 TDs
- GIANTS 2005 (11-5): Barber = 1,860 yards, 9 TDs
- GIANTS 2007 (10-6): Jacobs + Ward = 1,611 yards, 7 TDs
- GIANTS 2008 (11-5): Jacobs + Ward = 2,114 yards, 17 TDs
- GIANTS 2010 (10-6): Bradshaw + Jacobs = 2,059 yards, 17 TDs
- GIANTS 2011 (9-7): Bradshaw + Jacobs = 1,230 yards, 16 TDs
- GIANTS 2012 (9-7): Bradshaw + Brown = 1,400 yards, 14 TDs.
Kevin Gilbride has been the Giants offensive coordinator since 2007 | Eli since 2004*
This year the New York Giants top rusher is David Wilson, who is on pace for 467 yards FOR THE SEASON, and their top 2 rushers (David Wilson + Brandon Jacobs) for a combined 620.8 yards. WOW. This year the Giants have 284 rushing yards, 31st in the NFL, which is their worst total in the Eli era. They’re previous low was 419 total yards in 2011. Next lowest is 2005’s 534 yards.” (Newsday.com). That is shockingly bad.
David Wilson is just not good enough to be a primary back, and if he is the number one/two back you need somebody more elite. Andre Brown could have been that, but he got hurt, unfortunately.
What it comes down to is that Kevin Gilbride, Tom Coughlin, Jerry Reece and even Eli to some extent need to realize that they need to get away from this pass happy system and find a RUNNING BACK. Do what they did in 2007 and 2011, when they won the Super Bowl…and RAN THE FOOTBALL ON FIRST, SECOND, AND EVEN THRID DOWN. They have put way too many eggs in Eli’s basket, and he is NOT THE ELITE QB we all thought he was.
Elite QBs are guys that even in iffy systems get those 350+ yards, 4TDs with 0 turnovers. Those are Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers … guys who do not need a good game plan or a run threat to throw for 350+ yards, 4TDs and commit 0 turnovers.
At the end of the day the Giants need to get a running back to depend on heavily. Even if Kevin Gilbride’s is fired, and you put in an OC who understands the pass happy culture and running through the pass… I don’t think Eli is the QB you want for that. On the other end all the Bears have to do is wait. Greatness with Jay is coming. Can’t wait for tonight’s game!
*Interesting statistical note: Eli Manning and Jay Cutler share the same TD% (percentage of TDs when attempting a Pass) at 4.7; and a .1 difference in INT% (percentage of INTs when Attempting a Pass) Eli at 3.3, Jay at 3.4.*