X-and-O Show: Bears vs. Dolphins

Jeremy Stoltz goes to the film room to break down one offensive snap and one defensive snap for the Chicago Bears from Thursday's dominant 16-0 win over the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium.

Bears on Offense: Not Your Father's Misdirection
First quarter. 1st and 10 at the Chicago 39-yard line. The Bears line up in a strong-left, two-receiver set, with QB Jay Cutler under center. TE Brandon Manumaleuna is on the left edge, with a receiver wide to either side. RB Matt Forte is deep in the backfield, with TE Greg Olsen lined up in the fullback spot, off-set right. The Dolphins counter with a 3-4 defense. Both outside linebackers are up on the line of scrimmage. The corners and safeties are showing soft coverage.

At the snap, Cutler turns and hands the ball to Forte running off-tackle right. The entire offensive line crashes hard right, swallowing up all five of the front-five defenders, as well as LB Karlos Dansby. Olsen is leading Forte into the hole, but, as he reaches the right side of the line, he quickly cuts left behind the wall of linemen, with Forte following. Olsen reaches the left edge and gets a piece of LB Channing Crowder. This allows Forte to get outside. WR Devin Aromashodu pushes CB Vontae Davis inside just enough to let Forte get around the edge. Davis makes a diving attempt but can't bring down the runner. Forte reaches the sidelines and rumbles 21 yards before being pushed out of bounds by S Yeremiah Bell.

This was the longest run of the game for the Bears, and the one that set the team up for its first score – the only one it needed. It was not your typical misdirection play, yet it worked beautifully. Normally, a counter trey or cutback play has the running back and fullback take one step in the wrong direction, then head the opposite way into the hole. It typically involves a pulling lineman as well. On this play, the entire line crashes right, and both Olsen and Forte run right up to the right side of the line. Only then do they both break hard left. In this design, the backs can sell the play all the way up to the last second, and it worked. The entire defensive front seven gets caught pursuing an off-tackle right run, allowing Forte to get around the left side and to the sideline. While offensive coordinator Mike Martz is known more for his acumen calling pass plays, this was one of the most well-designed run plays of the season so far.


LB Brian Urlacher
Ronald C. Modra/Getty

Bears on Defense: Team Defense at its Finest
Second quarter. 1st and 10 at the Chicago 48-yard line. The Dolphins line up in a five-receiver set, with QB Tyler Thigpen in the shotgun. Three receivers are to the right. Two are on the left side. The Bears counter with a nickel package: four down linemen and two linebackers. LB Lance Briggs is up on the left side of the line, just behind DE Julius Peppers. LB Brian Urlacher is five yards deep from the right edge of the line. The three cornerbacks are all giving four-yard cushions, with the safeties showing two-deep coverage.

At the snap, all five receivers release downfield. Urlacher picks up WR Davone Bess running a hitch pattern over the middle. In the right slot, TE Anthony Fasano is covered initially by CB D.J. Moore, before being passed to the safety. The right wide receiver is picked up by CB Tim Jennings. At the same time, DE Israel Idonije rushes from the right side and uses a swim move to get leverage and put pressure on the QB from the middle. This forces Thigpen to roll outside of the pocket to his right. Both defensive tackles, Tommie Harris and Matt Toeaina, slide down the line of scrimmage in chorus with the QB. As Thigpen gets closer to the line, Harris rushes upfield toward the QB, yet Toeiana hangs back as a second line of defense. On the backside, Peppers gets held up initially but is quickly around the offensive tackle and takes off after the QB. Harris reaches Thigpen, but the QB sidesteps the tackle. This allows Peppers enough time to run down the signal caller and bring him down for a sack.

This was one of the most cohesive plays of the game, with all 11 players working together to force a 1-yard loss. The secondary gobbled up the five receivers, with Briggs and Urlacher both doing a great job covering the inside routes. Idonije gets the initial pressure, forcing Thigpen to roll out. Toeaina and Harris both do a great job of staying in front of the QB, not allowing him to take off downfield. And, as usual, Peppers uses his outstanding speed and relentless pursuit to get to the QB from behind. When everyone is on the same page and performing at a high level, this defense is a thing of beauty. It was the perfect recipe for going on the road and shutting out the opponent.


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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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