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Why the Chicago Bears should have run the ball on 3rd and 1

Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears went deep to Alshon Jeffery on a 3rd and 1 in the first quarter when most agree they should have just tried to get enough for the 1st down. A short pass would have been OK, but here's why I believe they should have ran the ball.

Jonathan Daniel

You know the situation. The Chicago Bears' defense just held the Miami Dolphins on the game's opening drive to a quick three and out. Miami's punter kicked a 34 yard punt out of bounds, giving the Bears good field position on their own 38.

Jay Cutler threw to Alshon Jeffery on first down over the middle for a 5 yard gain, then hit him again on 2nd down for a 4 yarder, setting up a 3rd and 1(ish) from their own 47 yard line. Technically it was closer to two yards needed, but it was definitely a makeable 3rd down for Chicago's O.

Here's what Jay Cutler saw presnap from the Dolphins. Picture from Kevin Fishbain of

Fishbain wrote about Miami's defensive look, "so you can see why they had a pass on," but I disagree that this look automatically makes a pass play the obvious call. I see blocking angles all over the place for a well coached offensive line. Fishbain goes on to point out in his All-22 slideshow that tight end Martellus Bennett was wide open over the middle for the first down and an easier throw, which I would have been OK with.

But back to explaining why I believe this could have been a run play.

Even if it was closer to a 3rd and 2 than a 3rd and 1, the opportunity to run for a 1st down was there, and here are three ways the Bears could have done it. I'll use Kevin's pic above that spotlights the eight-in-the-box that Miami showed, but I'll add my own coaching points.

In this first pic, I showed the Bears blocking in their zone blocking scheme. I talked about the ZBS in this article from a few years ago.

Basically this would be an inside zone play to the right. All the Bears blockers take a step to the right and then block what ever crosses their face. If that Miami defensive tackle between left guard Matt Slauson and center Roberto Garza stays in that gap, he would be taken by Slauson. If the stacked linebacker over that DT steps up, he'd get picked up by Garza. If that DT slants hard into Garza, then he'd get double teamed* with whoever has leverage working up to the 2nd level for the LB.

Right guard Kyle Long, right tackle Jordan Mills and extra blocker/tight end Eben Britton would all step right and work upfield blocking whoever they came across. Matt Forte would take the handoff and look to take the play right off Long's butt. If the defensive flow is clogging things up, he'd have the option to cut back to the left and run to daylight.

In pic #2 I'm showing man blocking with a combo block from Slauson and Garza. Combo block's are often used in the ZBS, and it's what I described above with the double team*. In this instance I'm wanting a specific combo to be executed by the Bears.

Garza and Slauson will fire out at the DT, staying as hip to hip as possible. Each will take half of the DT, but Garza is setting the DT up so Slauson can seal him off from the play. Garza will move up to the linebacker after popping the DT. Long has an easy angle on his block to give Forte a crease.

Mills would work up to the 2nd level, possibly helping Britton out before he goes upfield (a technique I show down in pic #3). Britton would execute reach block, which entails him making a hard step with his left foot, to cut off the defender, then working his body around so he's between the ball carrier and his man.

Left tackle Jermon Bushrod would only have to chip the defensive end before working up to the second level. That DE isn't making the play on a quick hitter up the gut to Forte, nor will the DE on the play side of the formation, which you'll notice I've left unblocked.

If you remember last week -- Dissecting the Play: Matt Forte's 9 yard touchdown -- I talked about how a blocking scheme can attack an eight-in-the-box front. Sometimes there's just no need to block the end guys.

Picture #3 is similar to the one above. The big difference is the block I have Garza and Slauson doing.

I have Garza blocking down hard on the DT, with Slauson pulling around through the hole. In last week's "Dissecting the Play" I talked about Kyle Long's trap block, in which he pulls down the line to block an unsuspecting defender. This pull block is a different type of pull, in which Slauson is moving around Garza, staying as tight to him as possible, and then working up through the hole looking "inside/out" for a defender. Inside/out just means he's looking to the inside (left) of the play for a white jersey before looking out (to his right), and then ultimately just running upfield if no one presents themselves to block.

When you hear commentators talking about Power O, it usually means the backside guard is pulling. This could be considered a power play since Slauson is pulling.

When I coached I had a Power series, but I also had another term for this block. I called this a "chicken" block, I'll explain in a moment. I gave my linemen the ability to block certain plays differently depending on the defensive front they saw. It's always easier to block when you have angles, so if a defense was head up on my line, I wanted to give them an advantage.

We had three types of blocks named after fowls. Chicken, Goose and Turkey. Notice the first letter in each word corresponds with center, guard and tackle? The chicken block means the center blocks down with the guard looping around. So my center would tell the guard chicken, the guard would respond, then they would execute the block.

The goose block means the guard goes first, then whoever he called goose with (either the center or guard depending on the look), would go around the guard's block. The turkey block means... you guessed it, tackle goes first with the guard going around him.

I can definitely understand why the Bears had a pass play called here, but going deep on 3rd and 1 in that situation was a no-no in my opinion. On a 2nd and 1, fine, take a shot, but at this point get the first down by either throwing short or by running the ball.

Running the ball being my preference...