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The Openfaced Mako Quarter

The third quarter was full of bad football. Not, good defense but low scoring, I judge my football by the frequency of points, bad football. That is often good football, just an unpopular style of good football. No, this was sloppy, slow, poorly orchestrated, and, particularly, poorly orchestrated by the quarterback, football.

The difference between Jay Cutler and Matt Hasselbeck, besides tools and age and surrounding talent, is that Cutler ceases to look down field when under pressure and Hasselbeck keeps his nerve. Cutler also, and I don't know if this started with Martz but it fits the stereotype, will not pass underneath even to wide open receivers. It's odd, kind of Rex Grossman-esque, and leads to sacks, scrambles, mistake passes into coverage, and stalled drives.

Anyway, this isn't comprehensive. It is, to be blunt, what I feel like writing about.

  • The first drive started with Marshawn Lynch battling Matt Toeaina in the backfield and wound down with back-to-back drops by John Carlson and Golden Tate.
  • Carlson's drop was made possible, so to speak, by two linebackers biting on a rather weakly executed play action.
  • Between the beginning and the end, the Seahawks did something they did throughout the game: run a quick slant against pressure. On the third play of the drive, the Bears rushed six and Mike Williams slanted in front of Charles Tillman for seven and the first.

Here's how the safety happened. As with most of the good things in life, it was equal parts preparation and execution.

  • Step one: Jon Ryan pins the Bears at their ten.
  • Step two: Red Bryant and David Hawthorne stop a run off right end. Seattle was swapping its strong side and weak side personnel in ways I have not previously seen.
  • Step three: Chicago runs a play action, seven step drop. The play action forces Matt Forte out of position to block Jordan Babineaux and the seven step drop puts Cutler in the end zone when the nickel blitz arrives.
  • Step four: Babineaux comes unblocked off left end and catches Cutler from behind, forces a fumble and Cutler recovers in the end zone for the safety.

The ensuing Seahawks drive was: stuff, good coverage on Lynch by Brian Urlacher, and then a double clutched screen pass that Matt backhanded incomplete just before Henry Melton could close and wrap. There was some controversy over whether this was a fumble or grounding, but it was neither. It was an incomplete pass with negative style points.

Not really the way you want to take advantage of a free possession.

Bears ball.

  • Cutler completes to Devin Hester in front of Walter Thurmond and behind Lofa Tatupu in what looks like a no pressure/well negotiated zone. Seahawks rush five.
  • Timeout.
  • Seahawks rush five, Chris Clemons attempts an edge rush around left end and Will Herring attempts and edge rush around right end, but both are pushed clear and Cutler steps up into a good looking pocket.
  • Except
  • He freaks the fuck out, and not for any evident reason.
  • He steps up, begins to move right, turns around completely, sees Clemons recovering and running up behind him, pinballs often backwards and surely around with not intention of passing, and finally throws the ball away.
  • Hawthorne shoots off right end, knocks back a lead blocker and strings the Forte rush wide right. Lofa Tatupu and Jordan Babineaux close to complete the tackle for a loss.
  • Freak Out No. 2: Seahawks rush five. Cutler stops looking down field and opts to scramble madly to and fro. Milloy puts down the rabid Bear.
  • Punt.

Seahawks ball.

  • Linebackers stay inside to contain the run. Matt finds Williams on a slant for six.
  • Bears sell out run and are rewarded with a run. Lynch pushes forward for two.
  • Toeaina slaps away a pass intended for Justin Forsett aaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnndddddddddd we punt.

Bears ball.

  • Freak Out No. 3: Seahawks rush five. Cutler rushes up the right sideline for 14.
  • Menacing looking screen develops offensive left, like a slowly organizing cyclone. Ten Seahawks are not prepared. Marcus Trufant is. He runs an arc from the right flat over the middle of the field and almost into the left flat and shoots in and drops Chester Taylor after four. This is one of those no one saw it highlights that I love to find. Just an incredible play by Tru.
  • Knox drop.
  • Seahawks rush four, including Milloy and Milloy comes untouched off right end and chases down and sacks Cutler.

This next drive is pretty good actually, if, uh, only comparatively.

  • Toeaina knocks back Chris Spencer, Peppers does likewise to Sean Locklear, but Lynch battles for three.
  • Play action, seven step drop, Williams catches a deep dig route and continues his one-man assault on the man called Peanut.
  • Very similar looking play, right down to Beck's drop step and William's route. The spacing is a little different and the Seahawks opt out of running play action, which is smart, because the Bears rush six and Justin Forsett makes a critical block on an otherwise free blitzer.
  • Tate drops another pass, but this time, the suckiness of dropping the pass is a component of Tate's inability to gain separation. He runs up to and curls in front of Tillman and Tillman is on him like a DEA dog. Peanut closes and slaps it away incomplete.
  • Force runs for six on an inside zone behind right guard. Locklear turns the left defensive end, Spencer controls the left defensive tackle and Stacy Andrews pulls into the second level and takes on a linebacker. Forsett runs behind his blockers and takes what's given.
  • Butler motions into a kind of loose trips and then runs a whip route in and then towards the left sideline. The combined action of motioning in and then slanting in and then running out, the whip route, fools Bowman and he is lost on the inside, sort of doubling Brandon Stokley with D.J. Moore, sort of in no man's land. Hass finds him for 15.
  • Remember that failed play action in which Matt outstretched the ball towards Lynch but Lynch was running a hard angle right and was clearly too far to receive the hand off? Well, that happens again and this time, Israel Idonije closes on Matt and forces a hurried outlet towards Lynch. Who, in his lovable, kind of bumbling way, catches, spins around Chris Harris and turns up field for five. Gotta love it when talent trumps execution.
  • The line pulls right, Carlson loops around and seals the left end (by blocking Peppers) and Forsett runs between Carlson and Okung off left end for 13.

We'll pick this up a bit later tonight.