Cutler to Olsen: The play that changed the Momentum

The play that changed the entire feel of the Bears' day at Dallas actually had a precursor that got me all giddy in anticipation of the play that swung momentum.  Did you follow that, because I think I just confused myself?  And before those plays, there was an eyebrow raising moment that caught me off guard.  After Chris Williams went down, and Kevin Shaffer struggled, the Bears made a change.

I said to myself; 'Did I really just see the Bears offense make on the fly adjustments?'  Did someone actually make a decision to flip Frank Omiyale to the left side for the obvious over his head Shaffer?  Great decision.  After sitting and yelling at my TV for the last few years, it was nice to see someone take charge and do something.  Thank you Mike Tice.

First I'll touch on the play that really peaked my football senses.  With 2:02 left in the first quarter and the Bears with a 2nd and 10, they came out in a four WR package.  Dallas was showing a blitz by the DB that was nearest to Devin Hester.  Hester was on the line of scrimmage, but slotted inside Johnny Knox.  The DB, appearing to be responsible for Knox, was giving a 10-yard cushion.  On the snap the Cowboys did indeed blitz the DB, leaving Jay Cutler an opening to hit Hester on a quick hitter.  Cutler threw the ball as soon as he possibly could, 19-yard gain.

Tangent #1 - I noticed the Air Coryell influence in many of Cutler's drop backs.  His drop backs aren't like what we're accustomed to seeing in Chicago (or with most QBs for that matter) with the QB turning his shoulders and dropping back perpendicular to the line of scrimmage.  Many times he did a true backpedal while keeping his shoulders parallel with the line.  Watch some old Dan Fouts in San Diego footage to see that backpedal style on the QB drop backs.  The theory behind the QB dropping this way is to have a clearer vision of the entire field.

The big momentum changing play, in my opinion, was the touchdown throw to Greg Olsen.  It was the very next play on a 1st and 10 from the Dallas 39.  This time the Bears went with an empty backfield, 4 WR (2 spread to each side) with 1 TE (to the right).

Tangent #2 - Mike Martz did a great job in protecting Cutler by formation and by play calling.  Some shotgun was sprinkled in, he used plenty of motion, he would show one look then shift into another, he did some empty sets, and he all but abandoned the 7 step drop game in favor of the quicker passes. His various formations and looks helped Cutler see where the blitz may be coming from, and it allowed someone to be close for a chip block or a double team.

But back to the TD.  The Cowboys were showing a 7 man rush, and their DBs were again giving a big cushion (8-9 yards) and were lined up off the 4 Bears wide outs, and no one in the middle.  Cutler dropped back looking at Olsen all the way, if the LB came he knew he'd be wide open in space.  Dallas did bring the heat and Cutler dumped it to Olsen without even setting his feet.  It was the perfect read of the perfect play call.   What made it even better is that it was a sight adjustment made by Cutler and Olsen.  Olsen should have run a drag route, but when he saw the OLB up to blitz, and the ILB in tight, he changed his route.

Johnny Knox ran a deep sideline comeback route taking his man away from the play.  And Earl Bennett, who was lined up in the slot to the left (inside Knox) showed good football IQ with a good seam route occupying his man, then peeling off and just getting a hand on the defender trailing Olsen.

That play, well, those two plays, actually those two plays and the tackle switcheroo, told me all I needed to know about the Bears offense moving forward.  After the Olsen TD, the Cowboys had to back off and play a more standard defense.  They knew Martz had enough in his playbook to thwart some of their aggressiveness, and they knew the Bears took their best shot and weren't going away.

Tom Thayer on the Bears website breaks down the play right here.

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