15 on 6: Bears Beat Themselves in Red Zone

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15 on 6: Bears Beat Themselves in Red Zone

Sunday, October 18th
Bears Let One Get Away

Literally, the Bears two years in a row let the Falcons get the best of them. They were not beaten physically, they were not out schemed offensively or defensively, they beat themselves with critical mistakes at key moments. They dominated all statistics, just not the one that matters.

Red Zone Efficiency

What did I last write in the Detroit Lions Blog? When you have an opportunity to score in the Red Zone, you have to make it count. The Bears failed in this area of the field and were only 25 in Red Zone efficiency. An interception, a fumble, and a crucial off sides penalty were the main reasons the score was not 28-21 and the Bears walk away with a 4-1 record.

It started rocky for Jay in the first half with two interceptions. I want to break down the first interception on the Bears opening drive as it directly affected the Bears ability to score. It could have been an easy completion and the Bears at minimum walk away with three points. The Bears team I was a part of called the play "772 Z Drive". The Flanker or called the "Z" (Devin Hester) runs a shallow cross or is driving across the field at five to seven yards depth. His responsibly is to run away from man coverage or hook up in zone coverage on the far hash while occupying the middle and weak linebackers. The tight end (Greg Olsen on this play) drives up the field 10 to 12 yards depth and runs an "in cut". If Devin influences the LB's and Greg beats the front side safety, he will get the ball as the number two receiver in the read. The running back (Matt Forte) checks protection to the strong side (TE side) for the SLB. If he does not come, he hooks up two yards up field and two yards outside the tight ends original alignment on the line of scrimmage. He is your number three.

The coverage was a zone, "quarters look", typically seen in the NFL in the Red Zone. The four defensive backs occupy a 14 of the field. It was 3rd and nine situation for the Bears and no one is designed to occupy the back side safety. In this case, it was Thomas Decoup of the Falcons. As a quarterback, you are trying to work this inside triangle between the flanker, tight end, and the running back. That is your progression. Jay thought he could squeeze it in to Devin, when if he simply moves on in his read, his number three receiver was wide open for a completion.

The old clich holds true. "Never beg a receiver to get open!" Jay has completed a throw like that to Devin many times in Denver versus the exact same coverage. But when windows to throw get tighter down in the Red Zone, if it is at all "harry", move on in your read. Especially, on the road and it's the opening drive. If the Bears walk away with three points, everyone is feeling pretty good and it silences the crowd early.

The last two points are what quarterbacking is all about. We forget Jay is still young in his quarterbacking career. We expect miracles because he is so talented. If he harnesses the mental part of the game and weighing the risks and rewards, he will truly be a multi time Pro Bowler. There is much to learn young Jedi. I believe Jay is up for the task.

2017 Bears Draft class and remaining picks

2017 Bears Draft class and remaining picks

The Bears made some waves just 10 minutes into the 2017 NFL Draft, sending four picks to the San Francisco 49ers to move up one spot and select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky second overall.

That package included two picks from Friday's Day 2 of the draft — the 67th overall pick and the 111th selection.

So what do the Bears have remaining?

Ryan Pace and Co. can still trade down in the second round — something they did twice last spring. But as of Friday afternoon, this is where things stand:

Round 2: Pick 4 (36th overall)
Round 4: Pick 10 (117th)
Round 5: Pick 3 (147th)
Round 7: Pick 3 (221)

The Bears will also be short a third-round pick in 2018 as part of the deal for Trubisky.

On second thoughts: Looking deeper at Bears gamble on Mitch Trubisky

On second thoughts: Looking deeper at Bears gamble on Mitch Trubisky

Upon further review and in the light of day, some observations and perspectives on the Bears’ epic trade of multiple meaningful draft choices to move up one spot in the 2017 first round to select quarterback Mitch Trubisky….

…So much for expert analysis. Maybe the 2017 quarterback draft class wasn’t as bad as its advance reviews. Three quarterbacks went in the Top 12 picks, and all three teams selecting them (Bears, Kansas City, Houston) traded, not down, but up to grab their guys (Trubisky, Pat Mahomes, DeShaun Watson).

Meaning: Pace didn’t panic in making the jump; he’d gotten calls from those teams looking to deal up for a quarterback, so he didn’t get bamboozled by 49ers GM John Lynch. When Pace didn’t want to deal with the Browns, Chiefs or Texans, he rightly figured he wasn’t their last call, in fact probably was their first.

And the coaches involved the Chiefs’ and Texans’ know something about good quarterbacks. Andy Reid mentored Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb. Bill O’Brien followed Josh McDaniels as Tom Brady’s quarterbacks coach in New England, then was offensive coordinator before leaving to rebuild the Penn State program.

As a footnote, for as voluminous as the positives were on Watson (including those of this reporter), Reid thought Mahomes was better.

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…He doesn’t have a third-rounder this year, but what Pace does with the Bears’ second-round pick will worth serious watching, based on his history. His hit rate at that level is superb; Eddie Goldman in ’15, then trading down a couple times in ’16 and still landing Cody Whitehair, one of the top O-line nuggets from last year’s draft.

And Pace didn’t entirely gut his ’17 draft portfolio. As things stand at this moment, he still goes into Day 3 with a fourth-rounder – one of what he picked up last year in one of those trade-down’s in the second round on the way to Whitehair.

Pace’s tone and demeanor Thursday after Round 1 was noteworthy: He sounded anything but done being draft-aggressive: “There’s avenues, maybe we can acquire more picks, like we did last year. So you’re kind of weighing all that.”

*                 *                 *

… No, the Bears didn’t overpay for moving from No. 3 to No. 2. A one-slot move inside the Top 10 is always pricey, and inside the Top 5 carries a huge premium. As I mentioned Thursday night, Cleveland gave Minnesota three later picks in the 2012 draft to switch places, the Browns going to No. 3 and the Vikings down one to No. 4. The picks (a four, a five, a seven) were less than the Bears paid (two threes, a four), but the Bears were going from 3 to 2, and it involved a quarterback, always a situation with a premium.

Also, and not intended as any slight of the players, but just using the results from Pace’s own draft history: The Bears traded Hroniss Grasu (third round, 2015), Jeremy Langford (fourth round, 2015) and Jonathan Bullard (third round, 2016) to improve their 2017 draft position and secure what they believe will be a franchise quarterback.

Picks in the 3-4 range can be huge hits: Olin Kreutz, Lance Briggs, Alex Brown. They can also be Juaquin Iglesias, Jarron Gilbert or Brock Vereen. Pace didn’t mortgage the future in a wild swing for a franchise QB by trading away, say, a No. 1 (Rick Mirer) or maybe two No. 1’s (Jay Cutler).

*                 *                 *

…The Trubisky move doesn’t dislodge Mike Glennon from his berth as the starter, as long as Glennon is better than Trubisky. But for those hyperventilating with outrage over the signing of Mark Sanchez as a backup, the prospects for Sanchez just dimmed mightily if not all the way to black. Connor Shaw, who has a future, arguably has a better shot at a roster spot than Sanchez, who was insurance.

*                 *                 *

…Were the Bears masking their real intentions with the mass migrations of staff to scout DeShaun Watson, DeShone Kizer and a couple other prospects? Don’t think so. There are less expensive and cumbersome ways to blow smoke and create misperceptions.

More likely, the closer they looked at the Kizers and Watsons, the more doubts they had and the more they liked what they’d seen with Trubisky. Pace personally scouted a handful of his games (a Tarheel buddy in North Carolina text’ed me early last fall and said, “Hey, just FYI: Your GM is here scouting our quarterback”), and the more he saw, the more he liked.

Apparently not so with the other guys.