X-and-O Show: Redskins vs. Bears

Jeremy Stoltz goes to the film room to break down one offensive snap and one defensive snap for the Chicago Bears from Sunday's demoralizing 17-14 defeat to the Redskins at Soldier Field.

Bears on Defense: Moore to the House
First quarter. 1st and 20 at the Chicago 32-yard line. The Redskins line up in a three-receiver set, with QB Donovan McNabb under center and RB Keiland Williams alone in the backfield. Two receivers are split left. One receiver is wide right. TE Chris Cooley is in the H-back right position. The Bears employ a nickel package. Four down linemen are supported by linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. The two cornerbacks are lined up seven yards across from the wide receivers. Nickel back D.J. Moore is positioned near the slot receiver on the left side, but, just before the snap, he sneaks up to the line until he's just outside of DE Israel Idonije.

At the snap, McNabb turns and fakes a handoff to Williams running a stretch-right. The entire offensive line blocks hard right, taking out the play-side linemen. At the same time, Cooley crosses behind the line and enters the left flat. On the back side, the left tackle smashes right, leaving Idonije unblocked. Moore blitzes off the left edge and is also unblocked. After McNabb makes the play fake, he turns back to his left and is immediately hit by Moore. The quarterback attempts to get the ball out to Cooley, but Idonije tips the pass straight in the air. Moore releases McNabb, makes the interception and returns the ball 54 yards for a touchdown.

Despite the loss, the Chicago defense played well in this game, giving up just 10 points to the Redskins' offense and forcing three turnovers. This was a well-designed play by Washington and most likely would have picked up decent yardage had Moore not blitzed. Cooley slipped behind the pile and was open in the flat, yet Moore did a great job of disguising and timing his blitz. It was the perfect defensive call and executed flawlessly. One has to wonder why the defense choose not to use these types of hidden blitzes more often, instead of lining everyone up on the line and showing blitz from the moment they break the huddle, as they are so wont to do. A little creativity goes a long way when it comes to confusing the opposing offense.


CB DeAngelo Hall
Jonathan Daniel/Getty

Bears on Offense: A Cutler Pick Six... Again
Third quarter. 3rd and 7 at the Washington 13-yard line. The Bears set up in a four-receiver set, with QB Jay Cutler in the shotgun and RB Chester Taylor to his left. Two receivers are bunched on both sides of the line, about four yards outside the offensive tackles. The Redskins counter with a nickel package. The front six players are all up on the line of scrimmage, with only two in a down position. The safeties are 10 yards deep of the slot receivers, and the corners are eight yards deep of the wide receivers. Nickel back Carlos Rogers is just outside of the left defensive end in a blitzing stance.

At the snap, Cutler drops back to pass. All six front defenders for the Redskins rush into the backfield, as does Rogers. The line and Taylor do a good job of picking up the front six, but Rogers comes through free. At the same time, the two slot receivers run flag patterns to the back corners of the end zone, and the two wide receivers run five-yard out patterns. Rogers is bearing down on Cutler, who throws off his back foot to WR Johnny Knox running an out-right pattern. CB DeAngelo Hall cuts underneath the route and intercepts the pass. He then returns the ball 92 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

Say what you will about Lovie Smith's refusal to pull the red flag out of his back pocket, but this play was the dagger that ended Chicago's bid for a 5-2 record. The Bears began this drive on their own 22-yard line and were moving the ball effortlessly. Yet it was a typical Martz third-down play that only left the struggling front five and a running back to protect the QB, while sending everyone out on pass patterns. The Redskins didn't even bother to disguise the blitz, and it had to have been obvious to everyone – the line, Cutler, Taylor and the receivers – that Washington was bringing the house. The best move then would have been to call an audible. But, alas, Martz won't allow Cutler that freedom. Apparently, it's his way or no way. A second option would have been for one of the slot receivers to run a hot route over the middle, giving the QB a quick, easy pass against an all-out blitz. And, finally, even though Rogers was bearing in on him, Cutler still had room to step into his throw. Yet he panicked, again, and threw a wobbly ball off his back foot. Hall could have finished a sandwich and still had enough time to make the interception. From start to finish, from the coaches to the receivers to the quarterback, this was an absolutely horrid play that not only cost the Bears the game but could potentially cost them a shot at the playoffs.


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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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