Miller: Reducing sacks on Cutler starts with short-step drops

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Miller: Reducing sacks on Cutler starts with short-step drops

Every die hard Bear fan knows the number 104. Its not the local radio dial number to the SCORE or ESPN, but plenty of Bear fans have heard 104 during many broadcasts. 104 is the number of sacks Bears quarterbacks have registered the last two seasons. Jay Cutler has felt the brunt of most of them, but 104 sacks is an astronomical number which does not even include the number of hits the quarterback position has received.
So whose fault is it? Is it the quarterback himself or the offensive line? How about the receivers not getting to the right spot on time or Mike Martzs play-calling, or maybe Lovie Smiths fault for hiring his buddy Martz?
There is plenty of blame to go around, but the Bears are committed learners, sustaining 104 lessons which they are destined never to repeat. There is a culprit for each and every one of those 104 sacks. When the answer is formulated, you make a change for a more positive result. The Bears have done just that by removing Martz from the equation.
My next few articles will focus on play calling and scheme giving you a clearer picture of Mike Tices game plan to create more positive plays. Positive plays allow an offense to stay on schedule creating more manageable down and distance situations. The probabilities and percentages for success are in the offenses favor when this occurs. Lets start with:
The Quick Passing Game
The quick passing game can be either one or three-step drops. They are quick hitters for modest gains of three to five yards, but if you have talented receivers they can take short routes the distance by making a defender miss a tackle.
One step drop: Normally are wide receiver screens, bubble screens, one-step slant routes or "no-look" passes. Essentially, the quarterback is taking a one-step drop (right handed quarterback's right foot) away from the center, creating separation from the line of scrimmage enabling a throw. The offensive line utilizes fire blocking rules, which is firing off the line of scrimmage at the defender with a good punch block. The punch block is the offensive lineman using both hands to pushpunch the defender square in his chest plate, preventing the defender the ability to get his arms up to knock down the pass.
Example: A run play maybe called in the huddle, but when the quarterback starts his cadence at the line of scrimmage, he may notice off coverage on his receivers, and that a safety has rotated down into the run box making running the football difficult for a positive play. The quarterback instead elects to utilize a no look pass to one of his receivers. The quarterback may then use a code word for fire blocking or say nothing at all because most run plays are fire blocking rules unless the quarterback knows he has an offensive lineman pulling. By using the code word he ensures all are on the same page and thus telling the offensive line, we are changing the play. The quarterback signals the receiver, letting him know, "Im throwing you the ball."The receiver then simply squares up to the quarterback to receive the throw. It is now up to the receiver to take advantage of the positive look situation presented by getting up field for three of four yards after the catch; potentially more if he makes the defender miss.
Three steps: Hitch routes, slant routes, quick out routes, tight end stick routes, and hot routes. More timing is involved, but these are quick-hitting plays that can have huge rewards. For example, if a slant route is hit with timing, a five yard pass can become ten yards hitting the receiver on the run. Fire blocking rules still apply for the offensive line. Tight end stick routes are an assured five yards versus almost every coverage, provided the tight end and quarterback read the coverage correctly. This crucial quick game tight end route was essentially non-existent along with the entire tight end position under Martz tenure. The Y stick route is a great route especially in the red zone.
Three-step routes are also perfect plays for max Protection (eight-man blocking) to ensure the pass gets off without the quarterback getting hit or sacked. They are great early down (1st2nd) calls for positive plays to stay on schedule, leading to more manageable 3rd and short or medium situations. Mike Tice is just playing the percentages where Martz did not. It is much easier to pick up a 3rd and 4 than a 3rd and 10, which Martz found himself in repeatedly due to a sack on second down from calling a seven step drop.
Next up, we will get into the intermediate passing game (five-step drops), deep pass game (seven-step drops), movement plays (200300 series which is roll out game for Jay Cutler), then run and play-action (100 series). They all can be great for the Bears with Tices new approach. It will then be up to the players how great of an offense they want to be.

Trevor van Riemsdyk on the move hours after being selected by Vegas in expansion draft

Trevor van Riemsdyk on the move hours after being selected by Vegas in expansion draft

Less than 14 hours after being taken by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft, Trevor van Riemsdyk is already on the move.

According to TSN's Frank Seravelli, the Golden Knights have traded the 25-year-old defenseman to the Carolina Hurricanes, where he will reunite with former Blackhawks teammates Scott Darling, Joakim Nordstrom and Teuvo Teravainen. Details are expected to trickle in soon along with a formal announcement.

Vegas general manager George McPhee made it known that he was going to draft "a lot" of defensemen Wednesday night, and he did just that with van Riemsdyk being one of 13 blue liners selected. Because of that, it makes players like van Riemsdyk expendable, giving McPhee the opportunity to collect assets by trading some of them and using the returns on other parts of the roster.

Van Riemsdyk joins an up-and-coming Hurricanes team that has a young, promising defensive corps featuring 25-year-old future All-Star Justin Faulk, 20-year-old Noah Hanifin, who was the No. 5 overall pick in 2015, and 23-year-old Jaccob Slavin, who has emerged into of their best defensemen.

Van Riemsdyk has one year left on a deal that carries a $825,000 cap hit, and is set to become a restricted free agent next summer.

Shakeup: Cubs planning to demote Kyle Schwarber to Triple-A Iowa and put Jason Heyward on DL

Shakeup: Cubs planning to demote Kyle Schwarber to Triple-A Iowa and put Jason Heyward on DL

MIAMI - The Cubs are preparing for a major shakeup that would send struggling World Series hero Kyle Schwarber to Triple-A Iowa and put Gold Glove outfielder Jason Heyward on the disabled list.

Stuck in a 36-35 pattern but still only 1.5 games out of first place, the Cubs are expected to add outfielder Mark Zagunis and reliever Dylan Floro from Iowa before Thursday night's game at Marlins Park.

Schwarber will try to regain his confidence on a Triple-A level he almost skipped while skyrocketing through the farm system as the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 draft. While still showing flashes of the power (12 homers) that made him a Wrigleyville favorite, his .171 batting average ranked last among qualified big-league hitters this season.

Unable to grip a bat, Heyward has been waiting for a nasty cut on his left hand to heal after trying to make a diving catch on Sunday in PNC Park's foul territory.

For a banged-up Cubs team, Heyward would join a World Series MVP (Ben Zobrist) and a Cy Young Award finalist (Kyle Hendricks) on the disabled list.