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redeyechicago.com

Quick someone tell Martz to Hanie-proof the Bears

Steve Rosenbloom

The RosenBlog

11:29 AM CST, December 6, 2011

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I love the job Mike Tice has done --- has usually done --- but the offensive line coach's blocking schemes and players are absolutely useless against 3-4 schemes.

Or if it's not the schemes, then it's the way they're taught because the linemen don't get it. Neither do the backs and tight ends. I mean, it looked like Matt Forte hobbled to the locker room with not just a majority of the Bears offense, but with the secret to blitz pickup, too.

The Bears blockers got torched by the worst pass rush in the league. The Chiefs sacked Bears interim quarterback Caleb Hanie seven times after coming into the game with a season total of just 13.

Tice's bunch and protection schemes looked lame enough to allow three sacks to a 3-4 defense from the Lingerie Football League.

The good news is, the Broncos don't play a 3-4 defense. The bad news is, the Broncos play better defense than the Chiefs. Can I get an "Uh-oh'' from the congregation before heading into Tim Tebow's manger?

Lovie Smith said the Bears' defense is set up to stop Tebow's read-option offense, but the real problem is what a good and opportunistic Denver defense might do to the Bears' junior varsity offense.

The Broncos have an aggressive pass rush, so if you thought Hanie and the offensive line stunk before ...

The Broncos also have actual cornerbacks who can cover man-to-man, so if you thought Roy Williams stunk before . . .

(Hanie to Williams --- probably not the first line on Jerry Angelo's resume.)

The Broncos are tied for fifth in the league in sacks and have forced 14 forced fumbles, as many as the Bears, who are much more celebrated for such things. If the Bears couldn't block a team that didn't know how to rush the passer last week, what happens now? Can I get another "Uh-oh'' from the congregation?

The day after choking against the Chiefs, Smith declared that "Caleb is our quarterback,'' which ought to get somebody fired.

Hanie's 23.8 quarterback rating prompted a lot of people to bring up Donovan McNabb's name. Hanie's second straight three-interception game also prompted Brett Favre to bring up Brett Favre's name.

Like the Jimmy Buffett song goes, Brett: If the phone doesn't ring, it's the Bears.

Smith declared the Bears wouldn't look outside Halas Hall for quarterbacks, not when they can't even find one inside, so it's on Hanie to ascend to, I don't know, Tyler Palko territory.

Hanie was supposed to make progress against the Chiefs. He was supposed to show us what he learned --- show us that he has learned how to learn in the NFL.

Nothing. He gave the Bears nothing to believe in.

Hanie overthrew Earl Bennett on a sure touchdown. Hanie threw a jump ball to itty-bitty Johnny Knox, who predictably got out-fought by a defensive back for an interception. Hanie ruined several drives by throwing short of the sticks.

Bad throws, bad responses, bad results --- the Hanie Hat Trick.

Some of the sacks were on Hanie, as well. He's so unfamiliar with taking snaps that he refuses to get rid of the ball. Pretty shiny thing. Neato. Look at that. Ooof!

Hanie could use some help from Mike Martz, too. The offensive coordinator must've ditched his Seven-Step Drop Anonymous meeting. What's more, Martz apparently was so scarred from criticism of that throwback screen that cost the Bears in Oakland that he never tried to slow the Chiefs with screens in a different kind of disaster.

This situation unfortunately combines the offensive line's inability to do its job with Martz's distaste for tight ends who catch the ball. Martz got the big bodies he wanted as extra blockers so he could call an offense that the Bears can't execute.

But Kellen Davis was open down the seam and Hanie found him. Once, anyway. Davis is about the biggest target the Bears could dare Hanie to overthrow.

Instead, Davis has to stay in to block as part of the max protect scheme.

But that gives Hanie fewer options, so he holds the ball until, well, really until Knox comes open, and it's usually short of the first-down marker in the standard Martz high-low routes.

Martz likes to say that all of his play-calls have an answer. Problem is, Hanie acts like it's an essay test and he's taking hours to fill the blue book. The answer, then, demands the Bears call plays that train Hanie --- force him --- to make the right decision, like it or not.

Start with the running game. Simpy let the minivan formerly known as Marion Barber pound on the fast and aggressive Broncos. Pound, pound, pound. It pays off late. Mommy, make it stop.

Three-step drops. Heck, one-step drops and throw the slant. Keep nine men in to block. Put one receiver in the pattern. Give Hanie no choice. Throw or die.

The out pattern to the tight end. It's simple, harmless even for a wild-high thrower like Hanie, and would instill a bit of confidence in the quarterbacks.

Screen plays. Hel-LO.

The ideal game plan for the Broncos involves Martz realizing who his quarterback is and showing some discipline with the playbook, two elements to which he rarely responds consistently. The ideal game plan also involves Hanie-proofing the offense. The Bears don't really know if Hanie can win in this league. Or, if they do know, the answer is no, and they're lighting candles in Lake Forest.

Point is, the Martz bravado about using the same, cumbersome playbook for Hanie that he used with Cutler is ridiculous. It's unfair to Hanie and the Bears. Whose side is Martz on, anyway? Show off your geniusness in your next job.

I'm not talking about dumbing it down. I'm talking about judicious use of the shots down the field. I know the Bears have to throw deep sometimes. They have to keep the defense honest. But as much as Martz might hate the idea, the plan must start and continue with punishing the defense as best as the Bears can.

Look, for all the crimes against offensive football the Bears committed last Sunday, Barber and Kahlil Bell still ran for 78 yards on 18 carries, an average of 4.3 yards --- an average that all but a lunatic offensive coordinator would embrace.

So, run at Elvis Dumervil. Run at him again. And again. It beats letting Dumervil give J'Marcus Webb windburn. It beats letting every Broncos defender make contract bonuses by rushing past Lance Louis. Most of all, it beats giving Hanie the chance to do something stupid.