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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Mark Sanchez officially signs with Bears

On the latest edition of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Chris Emma, Seth Gruen and Danny Ecker join David Kaplan to discuss the Mark Sanchez signing. Does this mean the Bears won't draft a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft? 

Later, the White Sox named Jose Quintana their Opening Day starter, but lose Carlos Rodon and Todd Frazier to injuries. 

Finally, Robin Lopez is back after serving a one-game suspension. The panel looks at the Bulls matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below. 

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

The tumult around the Bears quarterback position this offseason – signing Mike Glennon, cutting Jay Cutler, not signing Brian Hoyer, now signing Mark Sanchez – was to be expected. (Well, not all the brouhaha around Sanchez; if there has ever been more hyperventilating around the arriving backup quarterback, it’s escaping my recollections of a quarter-century on the beat.)

All of that, and a lot of the noise around Mike Glennon is really missing a larger point. A couple, really.

GM Ryan Pace established fixing the quarterback situation as a top priority, something it has been just about since Jim McMahon left, with the exception of a few Jay Cutler years. Doing that to any meaningful degree with the castoff options available in free agency or via trades wasn’t ever going to happen. What Pace has done with the quarterback situation, however, is more than a little intriguing.

The quarterback additions and subtractions, coupled with also suggest a draft plan far from locked in on a quarterback. The signings of Glennon and Sanchez don’t mean the Bears have solved their quarterback position, but it does mean the Bears have positioned themselves with the distinct option of NOT taking a quarterback – this year.

But here’s the bigger point.

Even with the optimum quarterback solution unavailable – Pace arguably did go best-available in his and the coaches’ minds with Glennon and Sanchez, all derision aside – Pace’s goal needs to be building a team that can reach a high playoff level regardless of quarterback.

Meaning: defense. And while the 2017 free agent and draft classes did not offer must-have quarterbacks in most evaluations, there are those elite-level defensive talents, and every indication is that the Bears will look there, in the draft, and should be. It had that feeling when the Bears, with ample, money to spend, backed away from day one free-agency runs at a couple of pricey defensive backs. The Bears simply think they can do better for less in the draft.

A perspective: With a defense at its levels during the Brian Urlacher era, the Bears could reach the NFC championship game with what they have at quarterback now. They did, twice, with Rex Grossman and with Cutler. Sanchez got to AFC championship games in each of his first two seasons. The Bears reached a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as their quarterback. They went 13-3 in 2001 with a solid-but-unspectacular Jim Miller as their quarterback. They reached the 2005 playoffs with Kyle Orton as their starter most of that year, and should have been in the 2008 playoffs with him as well. The Bears reached the NFC championship game in 2010 with Cutler.

There is a common denominator in all of these situations, and it is within Pace’s grasp, and that was an elite defense. Rex Ryan had one with the Jets and Sanchez, Grossman and Orton and Cutler had theirs with Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Mike Brown, Tommie Harris, Charles Tillman, etc.

Forget the quarterback situation for now. Nothing anyone, including Pace, can really do anything about it (other than land possibly Deshaun Watson, based on their turnout at his Pro Day).

But if Pace and his personnel staff do this right, they can lay in the foundation for something elite on defense that will transcend the quarterback, or at least allow the Bears to play more than 16 games in a season even if they do not have a great quarterback. With the Urlacher core defense, the Bears went to postseasons with four different quarterbacks.

The prime directive now for Ryan Pace is to create precisely that model again.