Bears

15 on 12: Don't blame the coaches, Hanie should know better

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15 on 12: Don't blame the coaches, Hanie should know better

It was a pretty bad week for the Chicago Bears. Actually, its been a pretty bad month for the Bears while losing four consecutive games in excrutiating fashion. If you thought the loss to Denver was a horrific loss, yesterdays loss to Seattle stings even more because of no improvement or productivity after four weeks from the quarterback position. I wanted to break down two key plays from the game that at this point in Caleb Hanies career, he should know better. One will be done for todays blog and the other tomorrow due to length in order to break down properly. I cannot speak for how Hanie is coached or what is communicated to improve Hanies higher education and knowledge of defenses or his own effort when working his craft to become a better quarterback. I just know what I know from my experiences and great coaching during my career.

I would first like to preface for CSN viewers that each offensive play is its own entity which should be approached as such by every quarterback. There is a processchecklist every quarterback must go through or should go through once the play is received in the huddle. The neurotransmitters in your head better be firing at all times thinking about personnel, down and distance, or which opponent is substituting for clues (i.e. nickel, dime, regular defense). The quarterback should communicate any helpful reminders or heads up to any teammates in the huddle about the particular play called. If the quarterback is worried about a certain defensive look or blitz, he should let his teammates know to be prepared for it. It is what film study is for to prepare for these situations. Its also why quarterbacks get paid the big bucks because the quarterback runs the show!

The two plays I will break down are the two interceptions by Hanie that were returned for touchdowns. Both mistakes were all on Hanie, but it will give you a window into the processchecklist he should have been going through.
Looking for Clues

The first play call was, West Right Fake Counter 37 Bootleg Naked Right (How it was called when I was with the Bears). Let the thinking begin: 2nd and 7 ball on the Bears 28 yard line.

1. It was Detroit personnel deployed by the Bears, which means two tight ends for your knowledge and higher learning as well. West Right just means Matt Spaeth lines up just outside Kellen Davis one yard off the ball with Flanker (Z) split out to the right and the Split End (X) split out to the left. The lone running back seven yards deep behind the quarterback.

2. Detroit personnel will normally bring regular defense (For Seattle purposes, their Regular Defense = 4-3 defense. I.E. four defensive lineman, three linebackers, and four defensive backs) or Detroit personnel may force a defense to go to a 4-4 look (Four defensive lineman and four linebackers) if opponent is concerned about physically matching up. Minimum, the quarterback should know the defense most likely is going to rotate a safety down into the box because they are out-manned if both tight ends are attached to the line of scrimmage. It is just COMMON SENSE the defense will rotate a safety down. The threat is against the RUN, so why have two safeties back in coverage?
There are no hints to communicate to your teammates on this particular play in the huddle. It was all on Hanie.

Again, the huddle call is: West Right Fake Counter 37 Bootleg Naked Right...On ONE...On One... Ready Break!"

When Hanie gets under center it does not give him or any other quarterback the authority to stop thinking. Start getting clues when going through cadence.

Start your Cadence...RED EIGHTEEN...
Clues like:
1. It was press coverage by both Seattle corners on the 'Z' and 'X'. Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner were both up and solely looking at the receivers faced up eying them down. Hanie should know already it is man-to-man coverage. These are man-to-man techniques being displayed and both Sherman and Browners demeanor is telling the quarterback as much.

2. As Hanie continues his cadence, he should have noticed the strong safety rotating down to the two tight end side. The SS also displayed man-to-man techniques eying Spaeth and he even followed Spaeth at the snap of the ball by going backside with the fake to stay on Spaeth.

3. Hanie should have also noticed the strong side linebacker on the line of scrimmage during his cadence.

RED EIGHTEEN"...

This was a buyer beware situation for Hanie! The strong side linebacker was not showing blitz with his back leg kicked back like he was going to blitz, but it is called a Bootleg Naked for a reason (Naked = you are exposed)! The quarterback is responsible for the end man on the line of scrimmage, which was the strong side linebacker who blitzed. Hanie could have gotten one more clue when the ball was snapped while pulling away from center. PEEK OVER THERE! THAT WAS YOUR ONLY THREAT ON THIS PARTICULAR PLAY!

SET HUT"...

Minimum Hanie should have gotten depth (straight back) after the fake rather than coming flat (toward the sideline) out of the fake the way he did. It just proved to me Hanie did not have a clue. Depth would have given Hanie separation from the backer allowing him to get the ball off to Davis or minimum to throw the ball away. I personally would liked to have seen Hanie abort the fake altogether getting depth as fast as he could, but that would blow a gasket right now for Hanie with what he is going through. You have to always be thinking at the position of quarterback or you dont have a chance of starting in the NFL. I thought that was Hanies goal when he took over the role? My advice for him is to learn his craft. It is one thing to say it, but quite another to learn and apply it. When one can apply under pressure is when you really earn the big bucks! You have to be constantly thinking to even have a chance.

Check back tomorrow as I will break down Hanies other pick six vs. blitz zone. As CSNChicago.com's John 'Moon' Mullin wrote about not blaming Jerry Angelo for signing Sam Hurd, I think the same methodology applies here for Hanie. If quarterbacks coach Shane Day and offensive coordinator Mike Martz are not teaching Hanie these core principles then shame on the Bears, but I just find that hard to believe.

2017 Bears position grades: Management

2017 Bears position grades: Management

2017 grade: D+

For these purposes, “management” encompasses the coaching staff and front office. We don’t need a lengthy re-litigation of the failures of the John Fox era, so briefly: The offense was unimaginative, predictable and unsuccessful; there were too many head-scratching coaching decisions, punctuated by that backfiring challenge flag against Green Bay; the defense was solid but not spectacular; special teams had plenty of highs (three touchdowns) and lows (Marcus Cooper’s gaffe against Pittsburgh, Connor Barth’s missed field goal against Detroit). Fox didn’t win enough games to justify a fourth year, even if he left the Bears in a better place than he found them back in 2015. But that 5-11 record drags the management grade down. 

But the larger thing we’re going to focus on here is the hits and misses for Ryan Pace in the 2017 league year. The hits: 

-- Drafting Mitchell Trubisky. Will this be a long-term success? That’s another question. But Pace hitched his future in Chicago to a quarterback last April. For a franchise that hasn’t had a “franchise” quarterback in ages, what more can you ask for? If Trubisky pans out, nobody should care that Pace traded up one spot -- effectively losing a third-round pick for his conviction in his guy -- to make the move. 

-- Moving quickly to hire Matt Nagy. As with Trubisky, Pace identified his guy and made sure he got him. The Bears hired Nagy just two days after the Kansas City Chiefs’ season ended with that playoff collapse against the Tennessee Titans, and with the Indianapolis Colts -- who eventually got burned by Josh McDaniels -- sniffing around Nagy, Pace made his move to hire a young, energetic, offensive-minded coach to pair with Trubisky. It’s tough to argue with any of the coaching hires made by Nagy, who had a head start on the competition: He retained defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and that entire defensive staff, kept Dave Ragone to be Trubisky’s quarterbacks coach and hired Mark Helfrich to bring some different concepts as offensive coordinator, and hired a special teams coach in Chris Tabor who must’ve been doing something right to survive seven years and a bunch of coaching changes in Cleveland. Like with Trubisky, it’s too early to say if Nagy will or won’t work out long-term, but it stands out that Pace had conviction in getting a franchise quarterback and a head coach who will make or break his tenure in Chicago. 

-- Drafting Tarik Cohen and Eddie Jackson in the fourth round. In Cohen, the Bears found an offensive spark (who was nonetheless under-utilized) who also was a key contributor on special teams. In Jackson, the Bears added a plug-and-play 16-game starter at safety who looks to have some upside after a solid rookie year. Both picks here were a triumph for the Bears’ amateur scouting department: Cohen wasn’t on everyone’s radar (special teams coach Chris Tabor, who previously was with the Browns, said Cohen’s name never came across his desk in Cleveland), while Jackson was coming off a broken leg that prematurely ended a solid career at Alabama. These were assuredly two hits. 

-- Signing Akiem Hicks to a four-year contract extension. The Bears rewarded Hicks a day before the season began; Hicks rewarded them with a Pro Bowl-caliber season (despite him only being a fourth alternate) and was the best player on the team in 2017. 

-- Signing Charles Leno to a four-year contract extension. Leno may not be an elite tackle, and still has some things to clean up in his game, but he’s 26 and his four-year, $37 million contract is the 14th-largest among left tackles (for what it’s worth, Bleacher Report ranked Leno as the 20th best left tackle in the NFL). The Bears believe Leno is still improving, and could turn that contract into a bargain in the future. But this is important to note, too: Players notice when a team rewards one of its own, especially when that guy is a well-respected former seventh-round draft pick. 

-- Signing Mark Sanchez to a one-year deal. This wasn’t a miss, certainly, and while it’s not much of a “hit,” Sanchez was exactly what the Bears wanted: A veteran mentor to Trubisky. While Sanchez was inactive for all 16 games, he and the No. 2 overall pick struck up a good relationship that makes him a candidate to return in 2018 as a true backup. 

-- Releasing Josh Sitton when he did. Whether or not the Bears offensive line is better off in 2018 is a different question, but file cutting Sitton on Feb. 20 -- when the team had until mid-March to make a decision on him -- as one of those things that gets noticed by players around the league. 

-- Announcing the expansion to Halas Hall. The plan has Pace’s fingerprints on it, and should help make the Bears a more attractive destination to free agents in 2018 and beyond. 

And now, for the misses:

-- Signing Mike Glennon. That completely bombed out. While the Bears weren’t hurting for cap space a year ago, and Glennon’s contract essentially was a one-year prove-it deal, his play was so poor that he was benched after only four games -- when the initial plan was for him to start the entire season to give Trubisky time to develop. The wheels came off for Glennon on his seventh pass in Week 2, when after completing his first six he threw the ball right to Tampa Bay’s Kwon Alexander for an interception from which he never seemed to recover. He’ll be cut sometime soon. 

-- Signing Markus Wheaton. After signing a two-year, $11 million deal in the spring, Wheaton struggled to stay healthy, with an appendectomy and finger injury limiting him in training camp and the early part of the season, and then a groin injury knocking out a few weeks in the middle of the season. When Wheaton was healthy, he was ineffective, catching only three of his 17 targets. That places him with eight other players since 1992 who’ve been targeted at least 15 times and and caught fewer than 20 percent of their targets. He’s another one of Pace’s 2017 free agent signings who’s likely to be cut. 

-- Signing Marcus Cooper. The Bears thought they were signing an ascending player who picked off four passes in 2016 and would be a better scheme fit in Chicago than he was in Arizona. Instead, Cooper was a liability when he was on the field and didn’t live up to his three-year, $16 million contract (with $8 million guaranteed). Dropping the ball before he got in the end zone Week 3 against Pittsburgh was a lowlight. The Bears can net $4.5 million in cap savings if he’s cut, per Spotrac. 

-- Signing Dion Sims. Sims isn’t as likely to be cut as Glennon and Wheaton, and even Cooper, but his poor production in the passing game (15 catches, 29 targets, 180 yards, one touchdown) puts a spotlight on how the Bears evaluate how he was as a run blocker in 2017. If that grade was high, the Bears could justify keeping him and not garnering a little more than $5.5 million in cap savings. If it was low, and the Bears are confident in Adam Shaheen’s ability to improve, then Sims could be cut as well. 

-- Signing Quintin Demps. The loss here was mitigated by the strong play of Adrian Amos, but Demps didn’t make much of an impact on the field before his Week 3 injury besides getting plowed over by Falcons tight end Austin Hooper in Week 1. He’d be a decent guy to have back as a reserve given his veteran leadership -- he was a captain in 2017 -- but given how well Amos and Eddie Jackson worked together last year, he’s unlikely to get his starting spot back in 2018. 

-- The wide receiver position as a whole. Kendall Wright led the Bears in receptions and yards, but his numbers would’ve looked a lot better had he been surrounded by better players. The cupboard was bare at this position, and after the worst-case scenario happened -- Cameron Meredith tearing his ACL in August, and Kevin White breaking his collarbone in Week 1 -- the Bears were left with an overmatched and underperforming group of receivers. For Trubisky’s sake, Pace has to work to make sure 2018 isn’t a repeat of 2017. 

-- The kicker position as a whole. Since we’re focusing solely on Pace’s 2017 moves, the decision to release Robbie Gould and replace him with Connor Barth doesn’t fall into this grade. But Barth had struggled with consistency prior to this season, and Roberto Aguayo didn’t provide much competition in his short-lived stint in training camp. The Bears eventually released Barth after he missed a game-tying kick against Detroit in November, then replaced him with a guy in Cairo Santos who was coming off an injury and, as it turned out, wasn’t completely healthy yet. So the Bears then had to move on from Santos and sign Mike Nugent to get them through the rest of the season. Better consistency from this position will be important to find in 2018. 

A couple moves fall into the neither hits nor misses category:

-- Drafting Adam Shaheen. Tight ends rarely make a significant impact as rookies, but Shaheen was only targeted 14 times last year. He did catch three touchdowns and flash some good chemistry with Trubisky before suffering an injury against Cincinnati that wound up ending his season. The gains he makes with a year of experience under his belt and during his first full offseason as a pro will be critical in determining his success in Year 2, and whether or not taking him 45th overall was a hit or a miss. 

-- Signing Prince Amukamara. This was neither good nor bad, with Amukamara playing solidly in coverage but not making enough plays on the ball and committing a few too many penalties. 

Pace still has decisions to make on a few other potential cuts, including right tackle Bobby Massie ($5.584 million cap savings per Spotrac) and linebackers Willie Young ($4.5 million cap savings) and Pernell McPhee ($7.075 million cap savings). Whether or not to place the franchise tag on Kyle Fuller and potentially pay him $15 million in 2018 is another call Pace has to make before the official end of the 2017 league year. 

But for Pace, did the hits out-weigh the misses in 2017? The Glennon signing imploded, but Trubisky showed signs of promise during an average season for a rookie quarterback. Cooper was a bust, but Fuller emerged as a potential long-term option to cover for that. The most glaring misses, then, were at wide receiver and tight end where, after injuries sapped those units of Cameron Meredith and Zach Miller, there weren’t reliable targets for Trubisky. 

We’ll probably need more time to determine if Pace’s “hits” on Trubisky and Nagy truly are “hits.” But if they are, the misses of 2017 -- Glennon, Wheaton, Cooper, etc. -- will be nothing more than amusing footnotes to a successful era of Bears football.
 

Under Center Podcast: What should the Bears do at guard and cornerback?

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: What should the Bears do at guard and cornerback?

With the Bears releasing Josh Sitton and having the option to franchise Kyle Fuller, JJ Stankevitz and John “Moon” Mullin look at two of the first big decisions for Ryan Pace’s offseason plan.

Listen to the full episode at this link (iOS users can go here) or in the embedded player below. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.