X-and-O Show: Bears vs. Bills

Jeremy Stoltz goes to the film room to break down one offensive snap and one defensive snap for the Chicago Bears from Sunday's much-needed 22-19 win over those pesky Bills at Rogers Centre.

Bears on Defense: Jennings Does it Again
Fourth quarter. 1st and 10 at the Buffalo 29-yard line. The Bills line up in a two-receiver set, with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. RB Fred Jackson is deep in the backfield, with FB Corey McIntyre offset to his left. WR Steve Johnson is wide right, outside of TE David Martin, and WR Lee Evans is split left. The Bears counter with a base 4-3. CB Tim Jennings is two yards across from Johnson. CB Charles Tillman is two yards across from Evans. Both safeties are 15 yards deep. As the Bills approach the line, S Danieal Manning creeps up into the box, yet shifts back to his deep position just before the snap.

At the snap, Fitzpatrick takes a five-step drop and looks to pass. LB Brian Urlacher blitzes up the middle, yet the rush is picked up well. Martin releases from the line and runs an eight-yard hitch. Fitzpatrick looks his way but sees the tight end is covered by Manning. At the same time, Johnson runs a five-yard hitch, then immediately takes off deep. Jennings bites on the hitch but is able to recover and trail just behind the receiver. Fitzpatrick lets fly a deep pass to Johnson. S Chris Harris comes over the top as the ball is in the air, yet it is underthrown and Jennings is able to tip the pass to himself and make the interception. He then returns the ball 39 yards, giving the Bears first down at the Buffalo 23-yard line.

The Bears used the ensuing field position to score the game-winning touchdown, making this the biggest defensive play of the game. This was a Cover-1 defense, with man coverage and one safety over the top. The corners both played up on the receivers, taking away the short pass. Jennings bit on the stop move, but he knew he had help deep. Because Fitzpatrick never looked left, Harris slid all the way across the field and would have been able to make a play on Johnson had the ball been on the mark. Additionally, Jennings was in a great trail position for the underthrown pass and made an outstanding interception. On top of that, he led the Bears in tackles and passes defensed in the game. It's safe to say former starting corner Zack Bowman is an afterthought at this point and that Jennings will be lined up across the field from Tillman for the foreseeable future.


RB Matt Forte
Rick Stewart/Getty

Bears on Offense: Forte's Jaunt
Third quarter. 2nd and 3 at the Buffalo 26-yard line. The Bears line up in a strong-right, three-tight end set, with QB Jay Cutler under center. Two tight ends are stacked on the right side of the line, with a receiver split left. RB Matt Forte is deep in the backfield, with TE Brandon Manumaleuna offset to his left. The Bills line up in a 4-4 defense, with eight men in the box. Four down linemen are being bookended by a linebacker on each side. Two linebackers are also backing the line, with two deep safeties behind.

At the snap, Cutler turns and hands the ball to Forte running off-tackle left. The entire offensive line uses zone-blocking technique. C Olin Kreutz locks up DT Torell Troup. LG Chris Williams and LT Frank Omiyale double-team DE Dwan Edwards initially, then Williams scrapes off and heads for LB Reggie Torbor. Manumaleuna leads into the hole and seals off Troup, as well as LB Akin Ayodele. As Forte hits the hole, he uses a quick stutter step. This brings Edwards inside of Williams. Forte then cuts outside, just behind Williams, who is able to seal Edwards to the inside. Forte then breaks toward the sideline and scampers 22 yards to the Buffalo 4-yard line, leading to Chicago's second touchdown.

It's amazing what can happen when the five guys up front aren't being shifted around constantly. In zone blocking, it is crucial each lineman works together, or else the play has no chance. This can only happen when all five guys can get enough reps together on the practice field. On this play, the front five and Manumaleuna are in synch, leaving Forte a nice hole through which to run. The left side of the line was especially cohesive, with Williams and Omiyale able to decipher which defenders to block as the play developed. Yet what made the play work was Forte's cut at the line of scrimmage. He drew Edwards in, waited for the defender to move inside and then broke to the outside. Forte has always had the field vision and shiftiness to be top-notch runner. If this line can develop any sort of chemistry together, he could reach that potential.


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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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