Adam Gase has popeyes and the scorn of the catty New York media, but apart from that, he’s just another erstwhile hotshot coordinator undone by the Peter Principle. Before he was sport of the internet, he was a successful OC for defensive-minded head coach John Fox. His greatest success came coaching Peyton Manning but Manning has always sorta been his own OC. I’m not sure what we can take from that. But in 2015 Gase coached Jay Cutler to his best season ever as measured by ANY/A. That’s an achievement. Let’s look at that.
Cutler reduced his sack and interception percentage dramatically. The Bears still sucked but for once Cutler was not the primary reason. It may shock and alarm you but in 2015 Cutler played an awful lot like Russell Wilson did in 2020.
Cutler 2015: 659 DYAR; 8.6% DVOA
Wilson 2020: 773 DYAR; 8.1% DVOA
Cutler and Wilson took different paths to the same basic outcome. Wilson was far more explosive and gained more of his value while the game was still in question, but Cutler took far fewer sacks. Because sacks rarely exceed 10 yards, I think we often underestimate their destructive power. Sacks destroy drives. Sacks are a big part of why Schotty’s offense was all or nothing.
For years now the Seahawks have endured incongruity between scoring offense and, shall we say, competent offense.
Scoring / Punts / 3 and outs
2020: 2.66 (7th) / .359 (20th) / .188 (19th)
2019: 2.14 (11th) / .411 (19th) / .233 (23rd)
2018: 2.36 (7th) / .443 (26th) / .278 (30th)
Which might explain why Seattle’s very wide net caught New York’s least favorite goldfish. Seattle has embarked on a fact-finding mission, and while Gase does not seem to know much about running a football team, he knows something about coaching a 30-something quarterback out of his worst habits.
Now let’s look at Cutler punishing KC’s blitz. I won’t call this play pretty but ... well, you’ll see.
If you know Cutler, this shouldn’t look surprising. He never looks away from trips on the left. When a blitzer comes free, he borks his form, relying on his great but waning arm talent. But it’s also pretty surprising too. The read is good. The placement is great. And the situational awareness is excellent.
Chicago was down 11 with 3:11 left in the fourth quarter against what turned out to be a top 3 defense. The Bears needed a score. A field goal would put them within eight. They could afford to lose yards taking a sack, but if you think about all of the cascading probabilities, lowering the chance of converting the field goal has grave implications.
Scoring the field goal was probably not enough, either. That, at best, would leave the Bears needing to maximize points in its likely last remaining drive. In 2015 Chicago scored a touchdown on 19.4% of drives. Which means (very) roughly speaking, if Chicago scores the field goal and regains possession with enough time on the clock, the Bears have a 19.4% chance of scoring a touchdown, a 9.7% chance to score the touchdown and the two point conversion to force overtime, and a 4.9% chance of scoring the touchdown, the two point conversion, and winning in overtime. Scoring the touchdown (and missing the two-point conversion and getting a touchback on the kickoff) gave the Bears a relatively robust 11.26% win probability. Convert the two, and that soars to a kitten’s whisker short of 20%. A risk must be taken.
This is a clutch play modestly well performed. If you know Russell Wilson, you probably know why I picked it. Cutler does not scramble. He throws with anticipation toward a nominally double covered receiver. The pass is downright gorgeous.
Wilson can do this but often it seems Wilson does not want to do this. Wanting to do this, anticipating that because of the design of the three routes emanating from trips and the positioning of the coverage, that the receiver will have uncontested space in the end zone despite being double covered; seeing that it’s a safe pass, that the play worked, may be Wilson’s biggest obstacle to greatness. He’s looking for gimmes. To the discerning eye, this is a gimme. I’m not saying Wilson never does this. I’m saying he doesn’t do this enough.
Cutler had to see this and throw with anticipation.
That’s even a little late, actually, but it contains the important info. Marcus Peters, the rightmost player in the above picture, has inside position. He won’t be able to defend passes thrown to Wilson’s outside shoulder. Former Seahawk Ron Parker, who recognizes the target and releases deep with impressive quickness, nevertheless has no chance of catching up—if the pass is thrown on time. Wilson is double covered, but the coverage is redundant. It’s doubly trailing him, doubly incapable of defending a pass deep and outside, doubly posterized when Cutler drops it in the bucket.
KC shan’t recover from this one. Chicago forced a three-and-out, strung together one more touchdown-scoring drive and won.
Adam Gase is unsexy. Adam Gase is never likely to be Seattle’s offensive coordinator. But Adam Gase probably has a fair amount left to contribute to the NFL. He seems ... dispositionally mismatched for the big chair, but not long ago, he knew a thing or two about coaching up a quarterback. Consulting him, listening to his impartial assessment and how he might tackle the opportunity of turning a great quarterback into an all-time great quarterback, is wise. I think.