I wrote the below paragraph and sentence over a year ago but I wasn’t quite satisfied with it. I’m not exactly sure why – I tried tweaking it, editing it, and rewording it but nothing I did really grabbed me. I think, really, with the 2017 season ending with such a thud followed by the departure of John Fox all the motivation was drained right out of me.
Trick plays are great. I think that football has a certain rigidness in its structure that makes a trick play an interesting and welcome addition to the game. Add in the big play potential and the "Wow, what just happened?" double take and it makes a typical 1st and 10 play something worth watching again. If I were an NFL head coach, I’d have two or three trick plays per game. Maybe it’s a good idea that I am not one.
This year’s Bears, if nothing else, gave us a few neat trick plays to enjoy.
Am I prescient or am I just lucky? Coach Matt Nagy has the same kind of idea when it comes to trick plays: In every game, have one or two of them queued up and ready to go. With a little searching, you will be able to find articles with quotes from the likes of Akiem Hicks or Bradley Sowell on how the Bears coach would seek them out to have a role in a gadget play that’s being installed. The attitude with running these plays in 2018 seemed more "We’re going to run this play with these players and if you stop it, good for you," opposed to a desperate "It’s 4th and 5 and our offense isn’t working, we need something here."
Sometime during the 2017 season, I started chronicling* Chicago’s trick plays. Then I started looking for more trick plays. I am fairly certain that I don’t have them all (According to Pro Football reference, Matt Forte threw 2 passes but I only found one) but I got quite a few. So, without further ado, here is the Semi-Complete Video Chronicle of Chicago Bears Trick Plays.
O’Donnell Fake Punt. Down 10 to 2 on Monday Night Football, Bears Punter Pat O’Donnell throws to running back Benny Cunningham. Cunningham goes 38 yards for the TD. Unfortunately, Vikings kicked the game winning field goal with 16 seconds left.
Trubisky 2 point conversion. In the same game, the Bears are down 17 to 9, Mitch Trubisky’s first NFL TD throw is tipped by a Viking and caught by sure-handed Zach Miller. Bears tie the game with this hand-off, reverse, pitch back to Trubisky.
Cohen TD Pass. Human Joystick Tarik Cohen gets the pitch from Trubisky, settles in the backfield and throws deep to Miller. The Bears beat the Ravens in overtime with a field goal from Connor Barth.
Maynard to Urlacher TD reception. Playing against the Redskins in 2001, Bears are down by 3 in the 4th quarter. The Bears line up in field goal formation to tie the game, Brian Urlacher motions, and punter Brad Maynard takes the snap and throws deep to the middle linebacker for the touchdown. Bears win 20 – 15.
Who doesn't love a little trickeration? #TrickeryTuesday https://t.co/ummJlVvDgf— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 7, 2017
Podlesh 2 point conversion. Against the Vikings in 2012, the Bears go up 16 – 3 with a 1 yard TD run by Michael Bush. Punter Adam Podlesh makes a hot read during the PAT and takes in in for 2. Bears win 28 – 10.
Meredith TD pass. In 2016, the Bears had the precursor to the "Philly Special" with this play. In the 2nd Quarter and on the 2 yard line, quarterback Matt Barkley motions to the side and Jeremy Langford takes the direct snap, college QB turned NFL receiver Cameron Meredith gets the ball on a reverse and throws it to Barkley to get the Bears on the scoreboard. It’s not enough though as the Bears end up losing to the Vikings 38 – 10.
Trick punt return with Callahan. Final game of the season and the Bears are down by two touchdowns. When the defense forces a punt, Cohen drifts away from the punt’s trajectory and draws the coverage while Bryce Callahan makes a sliding catch, recovers and beats the Vikings for a 59 yard return touchdown. The Bears having trick-play success against the Vikings is an interesting trend here but unfortunately, the Bears losing in 2017 also continues as they go down 23 – 10.
The punt return that never was. This one still stings. In 2011, the Bears were down 27 – 17 against the Packers, the offense had been sputtering most of the game and needed a spark. With 1:09 left in the game, they force a punt, returner extraordinaire Devin Hester fakes to the right and Johnny Knox gets the ball on the other side of the field and takes it all the way. Unfortunately, a phantom holding call against Corey Graham negates the return.
Interestingly, the Seahawks ran this play against the Bears in 2015. The Bears were lucky to tackle Richard Sherman at the 19 and hold Seattle to only a field goal. This wasn’t a pretty game for Chicago and I won’t embed the video, but you can see it here.
Cohen direct snap. Cohen takes the snap and follows Adam Shaheen for a 29 yard gain. Bears beat the Bengals 33 – 7 in this 2017 game. Video.
Devin Hester wildcat article. Devin Hester was ridiculous but I couldn’t find videos of him rushing (there’s plenty of them featuring his returns though). The Bears tried different ways to get him the ball and in this 2008 game, he got 32 yards on an end around and a rush from the wildcat formation. Article.
Walter Payton TD Passes. A compilation of Sweetness throwing touchdowns from the halfback option to Bears teammates including a couple to Jim McMahon.
Walter Payton Single Wing. In 1984, with injuries to QBs McMahon and Steve Fuller, Bears had Rusty Lisch in as signal caller. Lisch was ineffective and coach Mike Ditka inserted Payton in his place. Payton completed 1 out of 4 passes with a TD to Matt Suhey and an interception (as well as 35 rushing attempts for 175 yards and a TD). Bears lose to the Packers 20 – 14.
NFL 3 Bears trick plays. Spoiler alert! Marty Booker to Marcus Robinson, Payton to Brian Baschnagel, and Payton to Willie Gault. Nothing from Leon Johnson? Disappointed! Video.
First play of 2018, Papa Bear Left. Coach Matt Nagy shows his appreciation for Bears history and the first offense play of 2018 was a toss to Cohen from the T-Formation.
Just like Papa Bear drew it up. #Respect pic.twitter.com/xBiV6xT3iD— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 11, 2018
Walter Camp invented the T Formation in 1882.— Danny Schaechter (@CoachDShack) September 10, 2018
Chris Collinsworth called it creative In 2018. pic.twitter.com/ws69bPJ20U
Trey Burton takes the snap. Bears have 3rd and 1 in the red zone and tight end Trey Burton lines up as the QB flanked by Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard. At the snap, Burton fakes the handoff and bulls forward – he doesn’t get many yards, but he gets enough for the first down. Bears get a field goal on the drive and go on to beat the Seahawks 24 – 17.
Two Quarterbacks for the price of one, aka Willy Wonka. Bears are up 28 – 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On 2nd and goal, the offense lines up with both Mitch Trubisky and Chase Daniel in the backfield. At the snap, Taylor Gabriel runs back behind the formation and takes a quick flip for the TD. Bears go on to win 48 – 10.
Nagy comes back to it in the same Quarter 2 drives later. Best part of this play is the run fake to Chase ! pic.twitter.com/7qXsKgtAbM— Olin kreutz (@olin_kreutz) October 3, 2018
Oompa Loompa. Bears are down by a TD and with 3 seconds left go with a pass from Cohen to Anthony Miller for the TD. Unfortunately, the Giants go on to win in overtime.
@TarikCohen to @AnthonyMiller_3 for six! #CHIvsNYG | #DaBears pic.twitter.com/F7d9f1kuBE— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) December 2, 2018
Freezer Left. It’s 4th and goal and how do the Bears guarantee they get it in? Put it in a big guy’s gut and have him dive forward. Using the same formation from 1985, the Bears give it to Hicks evoking a comparison to William "The Refrigerator" Perry.
Akiem Hicks (332 pounds) is the first @ChicagoBears defender to score a rushing TD since...— NFL Throwback (@nflthrowback) December 2, 2018
William "The Refrigerator" Perry (335 pounds) in Super Bowl XX. @The_Dream99 pic.twitter.com/xF4V81A1hR
Santa’s Sleigh. Who wouldn’t want to see another big guy touchdown? Trubisky fakes the handoff to Hicks and throws it to eligible tackle Bradley Sowell. It’s the only TD of the game and the Bears beat the Rams 15 – 6.
Another big man TD for #DaBears!@Mtrubisky10 finds OT Bradley Sowell for SIX.— NFL (@NFL) December 10, 2018
: #LARvsCHI on NBC pic.twitter.com/KNP71AlBbG
Lollipop. In the 4th quarter against the Vikings (who else?) the Bears go up 19 -10 with a rush from Cohen. In this 2 point attempt, cornerback Prince Amukamara goes in motion, Trubisky feigns the hand-off and then throws it to linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski.
So that’s it for the Semi-Complete Video Chronicle of Chicago Bears Trick Plays. I know that there are many plays that I missed; with the exception of the Freezer Left play, I don’t have any of Refrigerator Perry’s touchdowns, defensive tackle Jim Flanigan also has some touchdowns coming out of the backfield, and I don’t think that I want to even touch the plays from the Run-and-Shoop era. All that being said, I am looking forward to seeing what kind of trick plays Nagy and the Bears will show us in the future.
*Chronicling means saving links in a Word Doc.