Since the game two debacle in Wisconsin, Mike Tice has gotten plenty of heat from Bears fans for his lack of play-calling knowledge. While I, too, questioned his ability to call an offensive game from start to finish, I was also quick to point out that it takes several weeks for an offense with so many new toys to gel. One of those new toys is Brandon Marshall, and on his 4th quarter TD against Dallas, Tice new something we didn’t.
First, let me set the play up for you. The score is 27-10, Chicago, with 6:35 left in the game. Its 3rd and 6 from the Dallas 31 yard line. The Bears have the luxury of passing, or simply running up the gut and trying a long field goal. Every fiber in me was hoping we just ran the ball here, kicked the field goal and went up by 20, and forced Dallas to score 3 touchdowns in the next 6 minutes, but Tice may have seen some tendencies in the Dallas defense that I had not.
On this first still-frame, You see Dallas with 6 men on the line, the cornerback on the top of the screen looking in, as well as the stationary linebacker. Those two players will rush with the other 6 already on the line, meaning only three Cowboys will be in coverage. When Marshall is put in motion, Dallas CB Brandon Carr follows Marshall across the line, indicating man coverage on him. Kellen Davis is at the front of the screen on the LOS, and TE Matt Spaeth actually lines up in the Full Back position, also on the right side of Cutler. This play is designed to look like a power run.
In this next shot, notice the chain of events that happened. The play-action bought Cutler a tad of extra time, and Kellen Davis never tried to block the man across from him (by design). Davis (yellow circle) went straight up the field to the Safety while Marshall (orange circle) runs just behind Davis to cross behind him.
These next two shots will show you that the team has worked on this play multiple times in practice. This play is completely set up on timing. The play has to be called vs. the correct defense, and the most important player on this play, Davis, has to execute his job perfectly, at the perfect time.
Davis comes straight up the field to bump the Safety and cross his face. The Bears TE is the Safety’s responsibility on this play. As he crosses the safety’s face, Cutler throws a quick pass off of his back foot.
As the ball is in the process of being caught by Marshall, Davis then shifts his focus immediately to Carr, the CB that has the responsibility of covering Marshall on this play. The other safety is hand-fighting with Jeffery off the screen to your right.
Notice that the safety has turned his hips AWAY from Marshall to cover Davis, and Davis has rendered Carr a non-factor on this play. Davis does make contact just a tad early on this play, but in real-time the timing appears nearly perfect. Had Davis made contact any sooner on this play, Offensive PI would have most likely been called. Since the timing was nearly perfect, Marshall coasted in for the easiest TD reception he’ll have all season.
And when a perfectly called, perfectly timed play is executed to perfection, this is your result:
Ladies and Gentlemen, this offense has a chance to be far-removed from the Ron Turner “Run, Run, Pass, Punt” and the Mike Martz 7-step drops. And let me tell ya, it’s something I could get use to.
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