Caleb Hanie will have a few weeks to audition for a starting gig in 2012.
What is a Sackwatch without any sacks? For the second time this season the Bears didn't allow a sack, and since I don't have any offensive line play to breakdown, I'll go over to the defensive side of the ball and look at the sacks that the Bears picked up... but they didn't get any of those either. So, I suppose I could simply post the running season comparison between the sacks from this and last season and call it a day, but that's not why you read WCG. You want more, you expect more. So I'll also look at some stuff that the Bears should do in this Sunday's game to keep the sacks to a minimum. Jump I say!
First things first, lets get this out of the way:
Sackwatch after 10 games
2010 - 37
2011 - 23
Last year the Bears traveled to Miami for a Thursday Night affair and even though they shut out the Fins 16-0, they allowed 3 sacks. But with nada being added to the '11 total, the Sackwatch is looking pretty good. The Bears are now tied at 17 for most sacks allowed, and even though they've been trending upwards in that category, I'm afraid they could start to go the other direction with Caleb Hanie at QB.
One of the big bugaboos of inexperienced quarterbacks is they hold onto the ball too long. That's usually due to them being unsure of what they are seeing from a defense, and from them second guessing their own offense. Even though Hanie isn't a rookie, he's had limited real game experience. It wouldn't surprise me to see him take a few coverage sacks by hanging in the pocket too long trying to make a play. The flip side is that he could be a little quick to take off, he's a good athlete and he may feel a need to move around a bit. Mike Martz will have to take what he's been doing with his offense of late, more running more max protects, and do that even more. Here's a few thing I'd like to see him do to help out Hanie.
The screen game is obvious. Nice short passes that help a QB get some confidence and a rhythm, but I'd like to see them take the screen to another level. The Raiders will be focusing on the screen all week in practice. They'll be keying on the Bears offensive linemen looking for their pulls. I think a double screen would be a good play call this week. The double screen is just what it sounds like, they set a screen up to both sides of the field. For example, they give the look of a traditional screen to the right with Matt Forte and a couple pulling linemen, but then they slow play a screen to the left to the full back or a tight end. Get the defensive flow going right then drop the ball off to the left. If the initial screen is there Hanie could hit Forte, but if Oakland sniffs it out he has an option to go the other way.
Another play off a running back screen is to hit the back side TE on a delayed curl. Again they get the flow going one way with a screen look, then have a TE, that blocks for a count or two, release over the middle and sit down. If the screen is there hit it, if not come back to the TE. The draw back with both these plays that is they take a little more time to develop, but if a defense is very keen on the screen even the defensive linemen will start flowing to the running back looking for the interception. If the d-line is flowing that'll give the QB the extra tick he needs to look back side.
I'd look for Martz to call some bubble and/or slip screens on Sunday also. But, I hope the Bears have the draw in their playbook off the bubble/slip screen look. It's a very effective play, because you get the safeties and linebackers fast flowing to the wide receiver, then you pivot around and give to the running back on the draw.
I'd expect plenty of the run game, screens, three step drops, early playaction, and max protects. I don't think Martz will call as many of the deep dig routes that he usually does, but I do think he'll let Hanie air it out a couple times. He dosen't have the arm of Jay Sizzle, but he has above average arm strength. I'm excited to see what adjustments the Bears will make, and I'm excited to see Hanie play.