Originally posted on Midway Illustrated  |  Last updated 11/7/12
The Chicago Bears are struggling on offense, they're near the bottom of the league in efficiency and Mike Tice is struggling with his play calling on offense.  There was a bit of a theme developing in the Chicago Bears offense that I picked up on and wanted to see if I could get a statistical verification on, where is the play-action pass?   Part of what is lacking in the Bears' offense is the lack of consistency in the passing game adjustments or even creativity.   What was going to be a big part of the Bears offense behind the running game of Matt Forte would be the play-action pass.  Forte would set the table, slow up the pass rush with the running game and then the Bears could get the  play fake involved in the offense.   Instead what I've discovered is that the Bears not only fail to establish the running game, but they fail to implement the all-important play-action fake into their offense.  So based on my suspicion about the Bears offense failing to implement the play action I wanted to consider if there was a number.   As always when you need a metric or a statistical number to figure out something that isn't always tracked by regular stats you turn to ProFootballFocus.  I reached out to Nathan Jahnke and he came back with this tidbit of information.   "As for Cutler and play action, that's something we just started doing this year...but this year he does (run the offense out of the play action pass) 15.8% of the time, which is 10th lowest in the league." Hunch affirmed, the Bears should have a big chunk of their offense dedicated to the max protection, play-action pass part of an offense and instead they don't.  They are 22nd in the NFL in that category, a statistic they should likely be leading the league in to take the pressure off of Cutler.   So where does Cutler's percentage rate overall compared other QBs in the NFL, RGIII (Mike Shannahan the offense Cutler had 4,500 yards passing in) is at the high end while Tony Romo (currently leads the league in INTs) is at the low end.   "The most is RGIII at 35% where low end is Romo at 9%. 19 QBs are between 13 and 19%, and then there are 10 or so between 20 and 33."  Jahnke said.   So there you have it the rookie QB who is having some of the best success of any rookie QB or NFL QB in the league is coming out of play action 35% of the time.  Oh and RGIII has mobility and the ability to get out of the pocket and throws well on the run much like Cutler.   There is no better weapon for an offense than to establish the running game, and then parlay that into a good play action pass.  Pass-blocking problems can hamper an inclusion of that aspect of the offense, but it can also BENEFIT the pass protection.  Suddenly the defense doesn't know if it's keying on the run or if it's keying on the pass.  The linebackers and safeties get sucked up, and you can take a safe shot down the field often into single coverage.   Honestly I don't have to go into the nuances of this because it's a common sense approach that most fans understand.  Instead we're left to wonder why the Bears have such a strong running game they're failing to use on a consistent basis and a QB that is being limited.   Cutler would be one of the best play action QBs in the NFL because you can keep him in the pocket or you can roll him OUT of the pocket.   There are so many aspects of the play-action pass that the Bears can utilize successfully in this offense, and the fact that they're not is disconcerting.  The Bears need to make the move towards being a stronger play fake team.  Roll outs, boots, or straight drops that get receivers down the field where Cutler can take a shot down the field.  We saw the Bears run a perfect play-action in the Colts game with Alshon Jeffery.  Why they rate so low in the NFL in that category is perplexing.   At some point there has to be some accountability on offense and versatility.  The offense is struggled and a strong finger can be pointed strongly at Mike Tice.
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