Griese’s 2-minute drill vs. Philadelphia

I have to admit that I had given up on the Bears vs. Philly yesterday.  I watched the game up until the Bears punted the ball away in the 4th quarter with about 4 minutes left, down 16 – 12.  As a Bears fan, I was happily surprised to later learn that the Bears got the ball back, drove 97 yards, and scored.

And then I read that Griese called his own plays during that last drive because radio communications had gone out.  Hmmm… Bears had a stagnant offense all game, failed to score a touchdown, and then they suddenly can drive 97 yards and score without Turner calling the plays?  And Griese actually managed to use Devin Hester on that drive, too, on a play that wasn’t simply a go-route (he had a 21-yard reception on that drive)!

Why doesn’t Turner call simple slant passes to Hester?  I haven’t seen one yet.  Look at the Patriots offense: most of their passes are mid-range passes where the receiver crosses the middle of the field.  The receivers then turn them into big gains with their speed.  Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Stallworth are all fast guys, but none of them are as fast as Hester or even Bernard Berrian.  Can you imagine what Hester or Berrian might do in the Patriots scheme?

I’m not suggesting, by the way, making Hester go airborne in traffic over the middle; that’s Moose’s job.  I’m simply pointing out that doing something other than WR screen and go-route plays to Hester might be a good idea, and Turner is not doing it.  Hell, I think putting Hester in shotgun and hiking to him is a good idea, too. 

By the way, did you notice that Griese didn’t have the arm to get it to Hester in the first half, when Hester was about three steps ahead of the corner on a go-route?  Underthrew it.

why Griese succeeds where Grossman failed

I don’t believe in Brian Griese as a “playmaker”. I do, however, believe in Griese as a smart quarterback. I’m also sure that Grossman has better physical quarterbacking abilities, such as arm strength and a quick release, than Griese.

This is not to say that I don’t think Griese will win many games this year at the helm of the Chicago Bears. He will. But so would any journeyman QB who is smart enough to use his tight ends and check down receivers rather than go for the wideouts on every pass. It might be a mere coincidence, but recall the games that Grossman won last year and who his best receivers were. Almost inevitably, Desmond Clark pops into mind.

Gregg Easterbrook, in his weekly TMQ column, makes the case that winning teams seem to be those teams that feature the tight end (although he ignores some losing teams that also feature the tight end, such as the Cleveland Browns and Kellen Winslow, Jr.). His reasoning is sound: against the Tampa 2 defense, the tight end is often covered by a linebacker rather than a safety. Furthermore, the safeties usually stay deep to prevent big plays in the Tampa 2, so the tight end can take advantage of the seam or area between the zones of the corners and the safeties – if the quarterback is smart enough to take 5 to 10 yard passes instead of going for the 20+ yard options that wideout routes often offer.

Grossman is blessed and cursed with a strong arm and quick release. This led him to try to go for the big play more often than he should have; in those games where he utilized his tight end(s), the results were much better.

Griese, so far, has had similar results. In Griese’s two starts, he has targeted the tight end trio (Desmond Clark, Greg Olsen, and John Gilmore) a total of 23 times (14 for Clark, 7 for Olsen, and 2 for Gilmore). 14 of those passes were caught.

In Griese’s two starts, he has already thrown 14 passes Desmond Clark’s way, whereas Grossman targeted Clark a total of 12 times over the first 3 games of the season. Clark’s stats with Griese at QB have been: 7 receptions for 44 yards and 1 TD vs. the Lions and 3 receptions for 62 yards and 1 TD vs. the Packers.

On the other hand, Grossman targeted the tight end trio a total of 16 times over the first THREE games. 12 were caught.