Bears

Miller: Hanie's panic led to interception

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Miller: Hanie's panic led to interception

Yesterday we focused on Caleb Hanies first interception returned for a touchdown. I hit on some of the pre-snap clues Hanie should have been looking for and how those clues should have affected his reaction when dealing with the strong side linebacker blitz by Seattles K.J. Wright. Ultimately, if executed properly, there would have been enough separation if Hanie gets depth rather than width on the bootleg naked play allowing Hanie to hit a wide open tight end Kellen Davis in the flat for a big play. Unfortunately, this gaffe led to Hanie getting hit by Wright which caused the interception to defensive tackle Red Bryant for a Seattle touchdown.

Today lets focus on Hanies second pick six for a touchdown.

The situation on the field is: 1st and 10, ball on the Bears 30 yard line, 5:11 left on the clock in the 4th quarter, and the score is Seattle 31 Bears 14.

The Bears elect to go four wide receivers with Hanie going out of the shotgun with running back Kahlil Bell lined up just to the right of Hanie in the gun. Two are left with Roy Williams on the outside in the (X) position and Dane Sanzenbacher in the slot (Z) position.

Two receivers are to the right with Earl Bennett on the outside in the (W) position (W = identifies receiver who has substituted for fullback) and Davis (Y = tight end) in the slot. Here is how it looks in what I always referred to as Half Right formation.

X Z LT LG C RG RT Y W

QB RB

The play call in the huddle is: Half Right Counter 63 Y ReadAll Slant...On One...On One... Ready Break!

It is a simple play. Let me tell you what it means:

Half Right we already covered (formation shown above). Counter 63 is the protection called (63 = 6 man protection and just calling it left...i.e. if called to the right it would have been 62). 63 protection means the five offensive line have the four down defensive lineman plus the Mike (Mike = middle line backer). Counter 63 just means the sixth protector, the running back (RB), goes in front of the quarterback across the formation for protection to pick up the secondary blitzer (i.e. nickel back or 5th defensive back) before he gets out on a wide route.

Y ReadAll Slant - I dont want to get too complicated but offensively, route combinations are called from strong side to weak side. The tight end (Y) position always signals strength offensively. Hence, that side is called first. Y ReadAll Slant. Davis (Y) has the read route (basically an Out route, but he reads the leverage of the defender covering him) while Bennett (W) runs a clear out Go route on the outside. The weak-side is simple. It is just as it sounds All Slant. It means Williams (X) and Sanzenbacher (Z) both run slants.

Here we go from the line of scrimmage and what clues Hanie should have digested...Red Eighteen...

1. Seattle is in a four-man defensive line front

2. Seattle has gone to Nickle as the Bears went three wide receivers and are just extending Kellen Davis (Y) out. The nickel back is over Sanzenbacher and the SLB moves out to cover Davis.

3. Press coverage presented on all receivers. DingDing... Im thinking it might be Man to Man coverage.

4. The SLB over Davis is trying to bait me like hes blitzing, BUT I KNOW HE IS NOT! HE CANNOT!

5. I know this because the safety is walking down over the slot (Z) to Sanzenbachers side NOT to Kellens side. Seattle cannot blitz and be so unsound as to leave Kellen uncovered. If they did, Hanie would just throw it to him.

6. Now the nickle back is showing signs of blitzing over Sanzenbacher and I now know the safety is there to replace him. The other safety is now in the middle of the field and confirms they cannot blitz Kellens side and tells the quarterback it is Man Free coverage. It means it is just man coverage with a safety that is not assigned a particular man and is free in middle of field.

7. Im picked up in protection. Running Back Bell has the nickel back blitzing.
Red Eighteen. SET HUT

We know how it unfolded. Hanie panicked not trusting he was protected and throws the pick six to Brandon Browner. Hanie double clutched the throw because he was concerned about the MLB, when all he had to do was let Sanzenbacher clear him. He quickly went to his number two receiver Roy Williams on the outside slant that was clearly covered. Minimum, Hanie should have thrown it away if he was confused or pop his feet confidently knowing hes protected to see if Davis was uncovered along the other sideline. If hes not open then throw it away, ITs FIRST DOWN! Live to play another down. Hanie did not live to see another down as Josh McCown replaced Hanie the next series.

I originally thought Seattle brought a blitz zone the way the middle linebacker dropped, but he was just crossing the formation like Bell because the running back was his man. Seattle also had a stunt by the weak side defensive end and defensive tackle, but it was so slow developing that Bears left tackle J'Marcus Webb elected to block the most dangerous guy which was the nickel back blitzing. Bell recognized what Webb was doing and was getting in position to block the DT when he eventually came around the outside. That type of protection happens all the time and the Bears had it picked up. There was no need to panic by Hanie.

Is Marcus Mariota the most logical QB target for the Bears?

Is Marcus Mariota the most logical QB target for the Bears?

Chicago Bears fans are sick and tired of the quarterback conversation surrounding this team as we enter the most important two month stretch of the offseason. My Twitter timeline (and vicious replies) are evidence of that. 

Duly noted.

That said, it's an unavoidable truth that GM Ryan Pace has no choice but to do something at quarterback in free agency or the NFL Draft. The most diehard Mitch Trubisky fan has to admit that. The former second overall pick hasn't developed into a franchise player through three seasons under center, and while the optimist would argue there's still time for him to become that guy, the realist is who must prevail when it comes to roster construction.

Marcus Mariota may be the perfect compromise. He doesn't have a resume that will immediately threaten Trubisky in 2020, but his sneaky upside combined with his youth and overall skill set is an ideal combination that could make him a long-term answer if Trubisky fails in the short-term.

According to Sports Illustrated, Chicago -- and coach Matt Nagy -- would be an ideal destination for Mariota, even if there's an inherent conflict of interest because both Mariota and Trubisky are represented by the same agent.

There are coaches out there—cough, Chicago, cough—who could slide him in easily under the guise that Mariota is a high-quality backup and develop him into a weapon under center who could take over when the starter falters.

Mariota, like Trubisky, hasn't lived up to the hype that he entered the NFL with back in 2015 when he was the second overall pick of the Titans. He's logged 61 starts and a career record of 29-32. He's completed just under 63% of his 1,110 career pass attempts and has 76 touchdown passes to 44 interceptions.

His stat sheet isn't impressive. His on-field play, at times, hasn't been, either. But he'd be an ideal reclamation project that the Bears can sell as the perfect backup even if the hope is for him to emerge as a starter.

There’s an advantage for QB-needy teams here who don’t want to deal with the public courting of Tom Brady, who don’t want to sacrifice mobility by signing Philip Rivers, who don’t want to roll the dice on every snap by signing Jameis Winston, and who don’t have the trade capital or cap space to go after someone like Nick Foles or Derek Carr.

Chicago won't be able to get into a bidding war for the bigger names like Tom Brady or even Teddy Bridgewater because of their limited cap space. Mariota won't command nearly as much to sign, and he's likely to get nothing more than a one-year commitment from a team hoping he can be like the guy who replaced him, Ryan Tannehill.

Of all the quarterbacks who've been pegged as a possible option for the Bears, Mariota feels like the most logical and, more importantly, cheaper targets who realistically could be lining up as the Chicago's starter by Week 4 of the 2020 season.

Bears should pay close attention to TE Cole Kmet at NFL Combine

Bears should pay close attention to TE Cole Kmet at NFL Combine

The 2020 NFL Combine kicks off on February 23, and the Bears will be one of 32 teams in attendance poking and prodding the 337 prospects who will try to run, jump and lift their way to a higher NFL draft grade.

General manager Ryan Pace will do his due diligence on all the players participating, but the Bears are without a first-round pick (again) and as a result, Pace's focus will be tailored to the cluster of prospects who are most likely to slide into Day 2. Chicago has two second-rounders and can upgrade the roster with two potential starters.

One player who should be at or near the top of the Bears' wish list is Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet. According to former NFL general manager Charley Casserly, Kmet would be a perfect fit for Chicago in the second round and the prospect they should pay the closest attention to at the combine.

The Bears' biggest need on offense is tight end. There are several guys who would fit well in Matt Nagy's scheme, including Purdue's Brycen Hopkins, but why not aim for the best TE in his class in Kmet?

Kmet certainly checks most of the boxes for an NFL starting tight end. He ended 2019 with 43 receptions for 515 yards and six touchdowns, numbers that aren't a true reflection of his upside as a receiver in the pros. He'll be a classic case of a player who has a more productive NFL career than he had in college.  He's a good athlete who has upside as an inline blocker, too, even though he needs to get stronger to be a truly reliable player in the run game.

Even with some of the deficiencies in Kmet's game, he'd be a massive upgrade over the tight ends currently on the Bears roster like Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen and Jesper Horsted. He's a virtual lock to come off the board in the second round, so if Pace wants him in Chicago next season, he won't be able to wait long to draft him. In fact, it could require using the Bears' first pick -- No. 43 overall -- to lock him up.