X-and-O Show: Bears vs. Cowboys

Jeremy Stoltz goes to the film room to break down one offensive snap and one defensive snap for the Chicago Bears from Sunday's satisfying 27-20 win over Dallas at Cowboys Stadium.

Bears on Offense: Knox on the Fly
Second quarter. 3rd and 15 at the Chicago 21-yard line. The Bears line up in a three-receiver set, with QB Jay Cutler in the shotgun. In the backfield to his left is RB Chester Taylor. To his right is TE Greg Olsen. WR Johnny Knox is split left, with WR Devin Hester in the slot to his right. WR Earl Bennett is split right. The Cowboys counter with a nickel package. Four down linemen are supported by two linebackers. CBs Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick are playing six yards off the line, across from Knox and Hester. On the other side, CB Terence Newman is lined up six yards across from Bennett. But just before the snap, he gets right up in the receiver's face. No player is showing blitz.

At the snap, Cutler drops back to pass. LB Anthony Spencer, who lined up in the left defensive end position, gets a great jump off the line and is past RT Frank Omiyale's outside shoulder almost immediately. Yet Taylor steps up and puts a block on Spencer, which stops the defender in his tracks. On the other side, NT Jay Ratliff uses a quick swim move and flies past LG Lance Louis. The other two rushers are picked up well. Cutler sees Ratliff coming and steps up into the pocket at the right moment, forcing the defender to run past him. On the left side, Hester and Knox release downfield, one behind the other. Scandrick lets both go, indicating zone coverage. At 15 yards downfield, Hester breaks across the field, forcing S Gerald Sensabaugh to step up and cover him. Yet Knox is running a fly pattern and gets behind Jenkins and the safeties. Bennett is also running a fly pattern on the opposite side, thus occupying the other safety. Cutler steps up and throws a strike to Knox in stride. The receiver hauls in the pass and is taken down almost immediately. The play goes for a 59- yard gain.

This play erased any doubts as to Mike Martz's ability as an offensive coordinator. Hester's deep cross occupied one safety, while Bennett's opposite-field fly pattern occupied the other safety. All Knox then had to do was outrun the cornerback, which he did easily. The play's design left a gaping hole in the middle of the field, and all Cutler had to do was put the ball on the money. Additionally, Martz adjusted to the early pressure shown by the Dallas defensive line by using max protection and three-step drops. On this play, the only options for Cutler were the wide receivers, as everyone else stayed in to block – an absolute necessity considering the loss of LT Chris Williams in the first quarter and the overall ineptitude of the front five. Yet there was Knox, wide open deep. A good coordinator is able to change the game plan on the fly, something previous offensive coordinator Ron Turner was never able to do.


CB D.J. Moore
Sharon Ellman/AP

Bears on Defense: Tillman's Strip
Fourth quarter. 1st and 10 at the Chicago 37-yard line. The Cowboys line up in a three-receiver set, with QB Tony Romo in the shotgun. RB Felix Jones is in the backfield to his right. WR Miles Austin is wide right, while WR Dez Bryant is split left. WR Roy Williams is lined up in the left slot. The Bears employ a nickel package. Four down linemen are backed by LBs Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. All three receivers have a cornerback right in their face, indicating man coverage. The two safeties are both 15 yards deep.

At the snap, Romo drops back to pass. The defensive linemen are picked up well, but it's a two-step drop, so they really don't have a chance to get to the quarterback. Williams runs a 10-yard out pattern. Romo hits him between the numbers right after he makes his break. The receiver makes the catch and is jumped on right away by nickel back D.J. Moore. Yet Moore, instead of taking the receiver to the ground, holds Williams up. This allows CB Charles Tillman to come over in support. As the receiver gets spun around, Tillman sees the ball and punches it out of his hands. Urlacher then falls on it, completing the turnover.

Moore had an outstanding game, racking up two interceptions and playing an integral role in this fumble. Instead of trying to lay out Williams with a big hit, he held him up, allowing Tillman to come over and knock the ball out. Lovie Smith said he had been working with Moore one on one regarding his role as the nickel back. Apparently, it was time well spent. Chicago's defense shut down the opposing run game for the second week in a row, allowing just 36 rushing yards. The Bears made the Dallas offense one dimensional, which is a surefire way to create turnovers. They have won the turnover battle for two straight weeks and are now 2-0. That's not a coincidence.


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Jeremy Stoltz is the editor-in-chief of The Business Ledger, the business newspaper for suburban Chicago. He is a regular contributor to Bear Report and BearReport.com.


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