Bears on Offense: Line? What Line?
At the snap, Cutler gives a token fake to Forte, then heads back to pass using a seven-step drop. Both Forte and Manumaleuna release into pass patterns, leaving only the front five to protect the quarterback. The Giants do not blitz and rush only the front four. C Olin Kreutz and RG Lance Louis double-team DT Barry Cofield, while Manumaleuna chips DE Osi Umenyiora on the left side and gives LT Frank Omiyale enough time to stay in front of the defender. This leaves LG Roberto Garza and RT Kevin Shaffer one on one with their opposing defenders. Garza takes a step back and sticks his hands out to block DT Chris Canty. He then quits moving his feet and drops his head. Canty uses a swim move and is around Garza immediately. On the right side, DE Justin Tuck uses a speed rush to the outside. Shaffer, like Garza, quits moving his feet and tries to push the defender. Tuck blasts right past him. After the play fake, Cutler looks to pass but is hit immediately by both defensive linemen. The play goes for a 9-yard loss.
With this group giving up 10 sacks, there were numerous opportunities to break down the offensive line's deficiencies. I chose this play because it demonstrates a complete dearth of technique by two players on the same play. A lack of talent can be partially made up for with technique and desire. On the technique side, the blame has to fall on offensive line coach Mike Tice. It's his job to make sure his linemen don't stop moving their feet, or flat-out drop their heads when making a block. These are basic fundamentals for offensive linemen, the lack of which resulted in a concussion for Cutler. Maybe the return of LT Chris Williams will help, but probably not enough to fix what's wrong with this unit.
Bears on Defense: Worn-Down Front Seven
At the snap, Manning turns and hands the ball off to Bradshaw running up the middle right. The entire O-line crashes hard left, taking out every D-lineman except for DE Julius Peppers, who is unblocked on the left side away from the play. As Boss crashes left, Urlacher blitzes hard to fill the hole, but Boss catches him and pushes the linebacker into the pile. Hedgecock then kicks out on Tinoisamoa. At the same time, LG Rich Seubert pulls right and lead blocks into the gaping hole. He picks up Briggs and drives him out of the play. Bradshaw is untouched coming through the point of attack. Pepper races down the line to meet the running back, but Bradshaw cuts back across the defender's face and races toward the sideline. CB Charles Tillman breaks away from the block by WR Hakeem Nicks and catches the runner along the sideline. He takes the ball carrier down at the 4- yard line. The play goes for a 24-yard gain.
At this point, the Bears were only down 3-0, even after the horrendous performance by the offense. This play was a backbreaker, as it led to the game-winning touchdown. The Giants executed a great counter-trey. The key was Urlacher, who was too quick to fill the gap but effectively ran himself out of the play. Had he held his ground for another second, he would have been in a better position to shed Boss's block and tackle the runner. Overall, though, this group performed admirably. Unfortunately, when the Bears offense has 11 three-and-outs and goes 0 for 13 on 3rd down, the defense has to defend 64 plays. For even the best unit, a few of those plays are going to hurt.
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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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