Can the Bears fix their pass protection issues?

Ten sacks. The Bears’ looked vulnerable and confused Sunday night in their pass protection schemes in the 17-3 loss to the Giants. Is it correctable? Of course, but that only happens if the Bears can make those corrections from a technique and scheme perspective going forward. When an offense is exposed, there is no hiding from the film—the same film that is now being passed around the entire NFL. Let’s take a look at where the Bears are struggling and how they can make the proper adjustments before they head down to Carolina this Sunday.

Jay CutlerICONChicago's Jay Cutler.

Cutler’s reads: Have to be quicker. Any time a QB pats the ball in the pocket vs. a good front four, he is done. Every defense I played on in the NFL was taught to make the QB double clutch in the pocket. Use coverage to put the QB in a compromised position—and then let your front four go to work. Exactly what we saw last night. The Giants played a ton of Cover 2, made Cutler go through his entire route progression and then collapsed the line of scrimmage. Cutler needs to be more decisive and the ball must come out quickly when the pocket breaks down.

The O-Line: For starters, they look slow-footed. Whenever you see an offensive lineman get beat to his inside, it is a technique issue. Plant that inside foot, get back off of the ball and protect any inside move. No different than punt protection—you cut off the easiest path to the ball. The second issue: basic twist stunts. We saw a lot of that last night from Perry Fewell’s defense in New York. Versus a four-man rush, you have to expect the defensive line to stunt up front. For example the “Tex” stunt (DT and DE). Pass them off, and know where your help is. These are correctable situations for Bears’ O-Line coach Mike Tice, because they come down to basic fundamentals, techniques and simple reads at the snap of the ball.

Six/ Seven-man protection schemes: We should get used to seeing the Bears use 6-man protection with the RB scanning to pick up extra pressure or to chip before he releases out of the backfield. But, the backs—and the TEs—who stay in for protection have to be productive in their blitz pickups. Plus, to get the ball down the field, Chicago may have to max protect (7-man protection) and use 2-man routes until they prove they can protect Cutler.

Mike MartzICONMartz may have to adapt how he calls plays this Sunday at Carolina.

Scheme changes: Mike Martz’s offensive system in Chicago has a wide variety of five and seven step drops. That isn’t going to sell vs. front four pressure or blitz pressure from the secondary. Install more 3-step routes into the game plan against the Panthers. Get the ball in the hands of Johnny Knox, Devin Hester and Greg Olsen with inside breaking routes. Yes, the deep 15-yard dig, the post, and the double-moves down the field are a big part of what Martz wants to do as a play caller. But, when the situation presents itself, you have to adapt as a coach. Limit the amount of times your QB is going to take a hit.

The running game: Chicago had to establish some sense of a ground game. We will see some examples when they run out of their Ace personnel (2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB) and their base Pro personnel (2 WR, 1 TE, 2 RB), but there has to be more running schemes built into the game plan. Right now, defenses can stop the run game of the Bears and then sit in coverage in third and long situations. That is not going to lead to points. Establish the running game and the entire play book expands.

Follow me on Twitter: MattBowen41

Want to work in the NFL? Click here to register for the NFP’s “Chalk Talk” seminar in Chicago on October 22nd.

Upcoming Games