Bears on Offense: Field-Goal Range No More
At the snap, Cutler drops back to pass. Brock stunts inside and sweeps around NT Craig Terrill. RT J'Marcus Webb sees Brock move inside and inexplicably follows him. RG Edwin Williams and C Olin Kreutz both pick up Terrill, yet they allow Brock to slide right behind and through the line. At the same time, Milloy blitzes off the edge. Because Webb had followed the defensive end inside, Milloy has a free run at the quarterback. He hits Cutler and hangs on long enough for Brock, who came through the line unblocked, to finish the tackle. The play goes for an 11-yard loss.
This play was crucial, as it knocked the Bears out of field-goal range. Had the play gone for any gain, or even no gain, Gould could have kicked a field goal. In a 23-20 loss, taking a sack here basically cost the team an opportunity for the win. Recently, much of the analysis in this column regarding the offensive line has been technique-based. But in this situation, it is assignment-based. This was the second time Webb allowed a blitzing defender to run right past him. For some reason, on both occasions he felt the need to follow the defensive end inside. Even though he's a rookie, Webb should know it is his job is to protect the edge. Additionally, LG Chris Williams did not notice Brock coming through on the stunt and left him a lane to the QB. When an offensive line is re-shuffled weekly, continuity can never develop, especially when players are lining up in positions of unfamiliarity. Until the coaching staff establishes an every-week front five, missed assignments like these will be the norm.
Bears on Defense: Bowman Gaffe
At the snap, Hasselbeck drops back to pass. The two bunched receivers both run inside patterns, taking Manning and Moore with them. Butler fakes as if he's running a crossing pattern, but then he turns and breaks to the outside. At the same time, Bowman continues running toward the middle of the field and gets caught up behind Moore. When Butler makes his break, Bowman is five yards down the field from the receiver. Hasselbeck hits the wide-open Butler at the 42-yard line. The receiver then breaks toward the sideline before Bowman finally catches up to him and pushes him out of bounds. The play goes for a 15-yard gain.
This was the only third-down play on a touchdown drive the Seahawks began at their own 8-yard line. A stop here keeps them out of field-goal range. Instead, Seattle converts the third down and goes on for the game-winning touchdown. Bowman needed to keep his eye on his man. Instead, he looks briefly across the field, apparently thinking Butler was going to motion completely to the other side. In the process, he loses sight of the receiver and ends up five yards deep and behind his own player. On a 3rd and 4, being caught that far off a receiver is just giving the opponent the first down. This was a well-designed play that just ate Bowman up. One has to wonder why Chicago's offense didn't run quick-hit plays like this in order to convert at least one of their 12 third-down attempts.
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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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