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.

Bears cut 10 players, trim roster to 80

Bears cut 10 players, trim roster to 80

The Bears have until Tuesday to move their roster down to 75, and they began Sunday by cutting 10 players.

The following players were waived: DL Keith Browner, WR Kieran Duncan, WR Derek Keaton, OL John Kling, RB Senorise Perry, WR Darrin Peterson, DB Joel Ross, TE Gannon Sinclair, OL Martin Wallace, FB Darrell Young

The Bears' roster currently sits at 80 players. After getting the roster down to 75 on Tuesday, the team will then cut down to 53 for the start of the regular season.

The Bears open their regular season on Sept. 4 in Houston against the Texans.

For the Bears, defense can’t pick up all the pieces from broken offense

For the Bears, defense can’t pick up all the pieces from broken offense

The current state of affairs for the 2016 Bears is seriously concerning when, after adding multiple starting players and investing high draft choices, the best that can be said about the Bears defense is that it isn’t as bad as the Bears offense.

A unit predicted to contend for a spot among the NFL’s top 10 this year was pushed around for 378 yards and 23 points in a 23-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. To push all of it off onto the fact that it was a preseason game won’t work, if only because the No. 1 defense allowed 239 of those yards and 20 of those points in the first half.

One mitigating fact is that the Bears offense hit a new preseason low and was coming back off the field before most members of the defense had had time to look at photos and to hydrate. Five of the Bears’ first seven possessions lasted less than 1 minute 30 seconds. Defensive players usually had time to get water or get with their coaches; not both.

And the defense did stiffen in the red zone, forcing the Chiefs twice to settle for field goals with the ball inside the Chicago 10 and a third time at the 23. And players at least bristled at the suggestion that the Bears are soft. “I take that personally,” said safety Harold Jones-Quartey. "I have never heard that word… . The first time I’ve ever heard anybody call us ‘soft’ is [now].”

Coach John Fox found some good in “the way our defense improved. We got a couple turnovers down in the lower-red area.”

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But those were scant positives in a game that saw Kansas City put together drives of 50 yards or longer five of the first six times it had the football, and those were against the supposed front liners.

The Chiefs drove 53 and 62 yards on their first two possessions, which included conversions of third-and-5 and third-and-14, part of the Chiefs converting six of 10 third downs in the first half. (“Obviously our third-and-long defense wasn’t real sufficient,” Fox allowed.)

Kansas City piled up 106 yards in the first quarter and what defensive “stops” there were might just as easily be credited to Kansas City execution as Bears playmaking. The Chiefs arguably had their initial drive stopped as much by tailback Spencer Ware colliding with blocking back Darrin Reaves on a third-and-short (2) for no gain. A fourth long drive of the half ended only when the Chiefs had a Bears blitz blocked, only to have Smith miss wide open wideout Albert Wilson inside the Chicago 10.

Special teams did the defense few favors. Kansas City punt returns of 18 and 15 yards put the ball at the KC 36 and the 50. The Bears did well to leave those possessions giving up only 3 points.

The game, in which starters and first-alternates play the longest of the preseason, had its points of player evaluation. Rookie cornerback Deiondre’ Hall, whose preseason has been marked by impact plays (not all of them good, of course), did generate another in the third quarter with an interception that thwarted a Kansas City scoring drive deep in the Chicago end. This was, however, after he had lost the ball and the receiver on a 58-yard completion the previous Chiefs possession.

And rookie defensive end Jonathan Bullard, after missing practice last week to attend to family matters, collected two quarterback hits, a sack and two tackles for loss among his three solo stops, according to initial game stats.

But rookie linebacker Leonard Floyd, who has missed practice time with three different health issues since the start of training camp, was limited in practice this week with a hamstring strain, and missed an important opportunity for much-needed work against unfamiliar competition.

“We got a chance to look at some young guys and make evaluations,” Fox said, “and that’s what preseason’s for.”

Best thing about Bears’ preseason loss to Chiefs: 'It wasn’t all bad'

Best thing about Bears’ preseason loss to Chiefs: 'It wasn’t all bad'

John Fox’s hopes for this preseason game No. 3 actually were fairly modest: show improvement. The Bears gave their coach pretty much the exact opposite in a dismal 23-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, which wasn’t really even as close as that score.

Tellingly perhaps, Fox was moderately damning with faint praise: “I don’t think it was all bad,” Fox said. “It might have looked like that but so do a lot of preseason games.”

And any presumed correlation between Saturday’s woeful performance and how the season may be a stretch. Five of the last six times the Bears have lost their third preseason game, they finished .500 or better, last year’s 34-6 drubbing at Cincinnati being the lone time the game-three result foreshadowed the course of the season.

But Fox was accurate in how the 2016 game-three loss looked. With quarterback Jay Cutler and the No. 1 one offense – or what was healthy of it – played into the third quarter, by which time the Chiefs were leading 20-0, had out-gained the Bears 331-94 and had allowed the Bears into plus-territory just once in seven possessions and with the Bears picking up zero first downs on five of the seven “drives.”

“It was good and bad, like anything else,” Cutler said.

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Concerning perhaps, while not easily quantifiable from a distance, the play by too many players looked lethargic and disinterested, whether it was the cause or the result of repeated breakdowns that killed Chicago drives and extended Kansas City ones. Whether success grows out of confidence or confidence follows from success is a relevant question but one that really doesn’t matter until the Bears have at least one or the other.

“I’ve never had a problem, whether it was all of last year or this year, as far as effort,” Fox said. “Our guys try hard and work hard. Now it’s just crossing that gap to having it happen under pressure. I think with young people sometimes that’s the growing pains. We’ve got the talent to do it. Now we’ve just got to execute better."

Cutler appeared frustrated on more than one occasion, which in the past has been a source of problems. Some of it clearly was with teammates and failed assignments. But this is a young Bears team still in a molten state and frustration, even when justified, can be an accelerant for tension.

This is still only preseason, but the critical trust relationship between Cutler and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is still a work in progress. The No. 1 offense has done less than nothing – 29 total points from 12 quarters of work – other than a brief burst early in New England. History suggests that Cutler is among those who need success to believe in his chief architect, and if Cutler’s attitude is fraying even a little bit, the danger is that it spread without something positive.

“We’ve got a great attitude,” Cutler insisted. “We’ve got a good team. Coach Fox put together a heck of a staff. Dowell and his staff are doing everything possible. Vic [Fangio, defensive coordinator] is a proven vet… . It’s just up to the guys.”

[RELATED: Bears No. 1 offense moving in wrong direction after three preseason games]

The game was one of the poorer examples of complementary football, with no phase of the Bears – offense, defense, special teams – doing anything remotely setting up another in field position, momentum or whatever. That is unsettling, since it is unusual for a game to be marked by none of a team’s units performing well.

The offense went without a first down on its final four possessions going into halftime. That was capped off by an abysmal final three trips to the line of scrimmage that produced a false-start penalty, incomplete pass to a wide-open receiver and a sack.

The defense, which wasn’t getting much recovery time from those brief series, failed to stop any of the Chiefs’ possessions through three quarters without at least one first down. The Chiefs had six drives of 40 yards or longer and had the ball approaching 30 minutes to the Bears’ 15 through three quarters.

Special teams did the defense few favors. Kansas City punt returns of 18 and 15 yards put the ball at the KC 36 and the 50. The Bears did well to leave those possessions giving up only 3 points, but the Chiefs had three different punt returners with at least one runback of 10 yards or longer.

As far as what might be positive in all of that: “It IS preseason,” Fox stated.