Tales from the Tape: Offense

The Chicago Bears fell to 7-5 on Sunday after an ugly loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field. We emerge from the film room with a full analysis of Chicago's offensive performance.

First quarter

-3rd and 5. QB Caleb Hanie is under center with two receivers to the right of the formation and WR Johnny Knox split left. Before the snap, RB Matt Forte motions out of the backfield toward the left sideline. The free safety is shading to the play's right side. At the snap, Hanie drops back and looks to his right. LB Tamba Hali comes off the left edge, chucks LT J'Marcus Webb and then tosses him aside. Webb then reaches across the defenders chest, eliciting a holding penalty. Hanie feels the pressure and throws an off-target pass to Knox running a drag pattern. It falls incomplete and the Bears are forced to punt.

The Bears did everything right in setting up this play. They bunched two wideouts to the right, forcing the safety to shade that direction. Then they moved Forte out wide left, isolated man-to-man with LB Derrick Johnson, with no safety help over the top. This was the mismatch the team was trying to get, yet Hanie never even looked Forte's direction and threw a bad pass to a covered receiver. He has to become more aware of what's going on before and during the play. He should have exploited Forte's matchup on the outside.

Webb shows again on this play his lack of balance and footwork. It's becoming obvious that all a defender has to do is shove Webb in the chest and he'll lose his footing. He stands too tall and does not keep his legs spread as he hits the defender. He will then stumble and try to arm block the defender, which almost never works. For his efforts on this play, he was called for a holding penalty.


QB Caleb Hanie
Rob Grabowski/US Presswire

-2nd and 6. Hanie is under center with Forte in the backfield. Knox is split left. TE Kellen Davis is in a standing position a few yards outside of RT Lance Louis. WR Earl Bennett is a few yards behind Davis. At the snap, Davis runs a drag route. At the same time, Bennett streaks into the right flat. Both players are open right away, especially Davis, who runs right behind the two blitzing linebackers. Yet Hanie waits, allows the pressure to get to him, and finally finds Knox on drag to the right. After the catch, Knox runs sideways, instead of forward, and the play goes for just two yards.

Hanie fails to recognize the blitz on this play, even though it came right in his face. Had he been aware of the extra rushers, he would have seen Davis wide open in the middle of the field. He also had Bennett open in the flat. If he had hit either player, the Bears would have picked up an easy first down. Instead, he waits for Knox and makes the play much more difficult than it needed to be. For some reason, Hanie is obsessed with throwing to Knox. I can't explain it but he needs to realize that Bennett, who received half the targets Knox did on Sunday, is his best receiver.

-1st down. Forte runs up the left side. TE Matt Speath pulls from the right side and into the hole as the lead blocker. LB Derrick Johnson fills the gap and dives under the block of Spaeth and into the backfield. Forte sidesteps the tackle attempt and picks up three yards.

The very next play, Forte runs up the left side with Spaeth coming across the field as a lead blocker again. And, just like the play before, Spaeth allows Johnson to slide under the block. Only this time, the linebacker connects with Forte' right knee. The hit sprains Forte's MCL, forcing him to miss the remainder of the contest and, possibly, the rest of the regular season.

First off, did Spaeth not learn from the previous play that Johnson takes on lead blocks by diving under the blocker? Apparently not, because he tried to attack Johnson at his shoulders, allowing the defender to slide right under his arms and into the ball carrier. Also, considering how poorly Spaeth did the previous play, wouldn't you think coordinator Mike Martz would want to avoid calling the exact same play, with the same blocking scheme, on the very next down? Nope, run it again, only this time the missed block cost the team its best player.

-The following drive, the Bears run a similar play with RB Marion Barber, only this time it's Louis' turn to lead up the hole. Johnson again ducks right under the block of Louis and makes the tackle on Barber. You wonder, does anyone on the offense communicate?

-Throughout most of the contest, Hanie locked on and threw to his first receiver. No matter the coverage, no matter who else was open, Hanie would fire it to his first option. At the end of the Raiders game the previous week, he was starting to work through his receiver progressions. Yet against the Chiefs, he reverted back to his old ways. It was very disappointing to see such a regression.

Second quarter


FB Tyler Clutts
Rob Grabowski/US Presswire

-2nd and 6. Barber runs up-the-middle left. FB Tyler Clutts leads into the hole. Johnson again tries to dive under his block, yet Clutts is ready for it. He comes in low and drives the defender into the turf. This creates a big hole, through which Barber is able to pick up the first down.

Bears coaches and players had to know from the countless hours of film work they do each week that Johnson takes on blocks by diving around the contact. On this play, Clutts had it figured out. It makes you wonder why Spaeth had such a hard time the previous series. Had he been prepared like Clutts, Forte wouldn't now be hurt.

-3rd and 1 at the Kansas City 5-yard line. Barber carries on a stretch play to the right. Edwin Williams tries to lock up the linebacker on the backside but completely whiffs and falls flat on his face. Chris Spencer tries to block play-side LB Jovan Belcher at the second level, yet Belcher just tosses the lineman aside. Spencer also lands on his face. Pulling around the right side to lead block is Lance Louis, yet he decides not to block anyone and lets S Jon McGraw go right past him. At the point of attack, McGraw and Belcher crash into Barber, stopping him from picking up the first down. The Bears are forced to kick a field goal.

This was a crucial play that could have set up a first and goal. Instead, Williams, Spencer and Louis all miss their blocks and Chicago can only pick up three points – the extent of their scoring on Sunday. Williams in particular showed very poorly as a run blocker all day. He was consistently unable to find and lock up defenders at the second level. On pulls and leads, he doesn't show enough awareness and athletic ability to get the right guy blocked. He's solid as a pass protector but Williams is one of the main reasons Chicago's run game is struggling right now.

-2nd and 12. Hanie drops back to pass. Davis is lined up on the right edge of the line. At the snap, he releases down the seam, with LB Justin Houston trailing. Hanie throws a high pass over the linebacker's head, which Davis pulls down easily. The play goes for 28 yards.

I've been saying this all year: Why isn't this play a staple of the offense? Davis is so big it's nearly impossible for linebackers to cover him. Whenever he works the seam, he almost always produces. For an inexperienced quarterback, a tight end over the middle is his best friend. On every single pass play, Davis should release down the middle of the field, giving Hanie a huge target right in his line of vision.


WR Earl Bennett
Jonathan Daniel/Getty

-A few plays later, Hanie overthrows a wide-open Earl Bennett for a TD. The play was set up well but Hanie failed to execute – which pretty much sums up his entire afternoon.

Third quarter

-The Chiefs linebackers were challenging FB Tyler Clutts all day. They were filling the gaps and bringing contact to Clutts. On a number of occasions, Clutts reeled back from the blow, allowing the defender to make the play. This is the first bad film on Clutts this year, so he should be able to bounce back. Going forward, he needs to be the one blowing back defenders, not the other way around.

-1st down. Knox lines up one-on-one with CB Brandon Carr in his face wide left. Before the snap, FS Kendrick Lewis rolls toward the right side of the field. As he does this, Carr quickly backs off the receiver, giving Knox a cushion as the ball is snapped. Hanie sees Lewis slide to his right, so he knows Carr has no safety help over the top. He throws a jump ball to Knox 25 yards downfield, yet Carr outplays the receiver and times his jump perfectly, bringing in the interception.

I don't blame Hanie for this pass. He had isolation with Knox on Carr with no safety help. He took a shot downfield at the right time. Yet Knox is not a jump-ball receiver and was thoroughly outplayed by Carr going after the pass. Had Knox slowed up earlier and actually left his feet, he might have had a chance to at least knock the pass away.

-Some of Hanie's best throws came while he was rolling out of the pocket. Martz did a good job of getting his signal caller out in space where he could use his athleticism to make plays. Expect more rollouts and bootlegs going forward.

-I like the way Kahlil Bell runs. He's not an outstanding athlete but he runs with power and hits the hole hard. He'll be a nice complement to Barber during Forte's absence.

Fourth quarter

-1st down. Roy Williams motions from left to right, until he's lined up just outside of Knox in the right slot. No defensive player follows Williams, indicating zone coverage. At the snap, Hanie takes a seven-step drop, plants and fires in rhythm. Knox clears the first level of zone defenders then runs right at CB Brandon Flowers for two steps before breaking down and turning back to his quarterback. The pass is a bullet, thrown on time, right into Knox's stomach. The play goes for a first down.

This was the third of four straight passes Hanie completed on this late-game drive. He was given good protection, was finding the open targets and putting the ball on the money. It was a glimpse of Hanie's potential. If the Bears can find a way to harness this for a complete game, the season may not be lost just yet.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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