CCS Film Room: Bears Three Red Zone Passes
Early in the 3rd Quarter of the Bears victory over the Lions, they found themselves down inside the five yard line. However, to the dismay of many, they elected to not run the ball with RB Michael Bush or RB Matt Forte, and instead attempt three straight passing plays (all were incomplete). There has been some discussion over whether or not these passes were all called by Tice, or whether or not QB Jay Cutler audibled to them. Let’s show some stills of the end results of these plays, and at the bottom is a video of them created by CCS Forum Member 94SupraTT. I apologize in advance for the quality of the still-shots; it’s the best available video.
On this first still, you see the end of the play that got the Bears inside the 5-yard line. WR Earl Bennett ran a post, and WR Brandon Marshall slid underneath him in order to catch a low pass and stretched to the three yard line. The Bears would try a similar pattern with Marshall on the next play.
On the next play, 1st and goal from the 3-yard line, Marshall was again running a quick slant. Jon Gruden called it a “Bullet Slant” in the broadcast, in which Cutler was to take 1-2 steps back, and fire the ball. The play was read well, however, and Marshall had a defender on top of him immediately. Cutler made a good decision on this throw, as the position of the ball gave Marshall a chance at catching it, while not giving the defender any chance at all. It’s the definition of a low-risk, low-reward pass.
On 2nd and goal, Marshall again had a 1-v-1 match-up, and Cutler’s tendencies were understood by the defense. This back-shoulder throw was broken up by a linebacker who assumed Cutler was going to Marshall, and made an excellent play in jumping up and knocking the pass down.
Here’s another look of the same play from the endzone.
On 3rd and goal, it sounds like Cutler audibled out of a run. You can hear him yelling what sounds like “KILL KILL” to both sides of the offense before throwing another back-shoulder pass to WR Earl Bennett that, again, is broken up by the defense. The Lions crowded the line of scrimmage on this play, and prompted Cutler to change the play. Cutler was forced to throw this one off of his back foot.
Whether or not any runs were called inside the 5-yard line, we can only speculate. Given the end result, it’s fair to expect the Bears to attempt a run or two next time they’re in this position. Though they didn’t come away with a touchdown on this drive, they did manage to score three points on a Robbie Gould field goal, but that won’t be enough against tougher opponents.
(This article is written for ChiCitySports.com. Like the article? Like talking Chicago Sports? Sign up here!)