Bears on Offense: Bubble Magic
At the snap, Cutler turns and fakes a handoff to Hester running an end-around. On the right side, OT J'Marcus Webb crashes down on the defensive tackle, while RG Roberto Garza pulls around the right edge. Forte then drives straight ahead and blocks the right defensive end. Both linebackers bite on the fake and are immediately caught up on the right side of the field. At the same time, LT Frank Omiyale and LG Chris Williams let the tackle and end on the left side run right past them. They then take off to the left flat. Olsen sprints out to block CB Asher Allen, who was lined up across from Bennett. Bennett then slips underneath Olsen. After his play fake to Hester, Cutler spins around and fires a pass to Bennett on a bubble screen. Olsen clears out Allen, allowing his teammate to move upfield. Both Omiyale and Williams miss their blocks, but Bennett makes a couple of nice cuts before finally being tackled by LB E.J. Henderson after a 10-yard gain. He then fumbles the ball, but the Bears recover.
This was one of the most well-designed plays offensive coordinator Mike Martz has put together all season. It was a bubble screen that used an end-around as the play fake. Even Garza, Webb and Forte, in selling the fake to the right side, block as if it were an end-around. This freezes the linebackers and opens up space on the play side. The ball is then slung to the opposite side of the field, where Olsen makes a nice block to allow Bennett some room to maneuver. Unfortunately, both Williams and Omiyale miss their blocks, forcing Bennett to make a few defenders miss before being taken down by the trailing linebacker. Had the two linemen picked up their defenders, Bennett most likely would have been off to the races. While this play did not seriously affect the outcome of the game, it was the most creatively designed play called by Martz all night, showcasing his ability to mix things up and keep the opposing defense guessing. With his newfound acceptance of the run game, Martz will have some outstanding opportunities in the playoffs to show off his talent as a strategist.
Bears on Defense: Welcome to the NFL, Rook
At the snap, Favre hands the ball off to Gerhart running off-tackle left. The entire left side of the line crashes hard right, sealing off most of the defenders. On the right side, G Ryan Cook pulls behind the line as a lead blocker. Tahi also leads into the hole, but Tillman crashes into him at the point of attack, knocking down the fullback and creating a pile. Gerhart has to jump over the pile to get to the line of scrimmage, yet, as he leaves his feet, he is met by a crushing blow from Harris. The defender meets the runner a yard short of the first down and drives him into the ground. The play goes for a 1-yard gain and forces a fourth-down punt.
This was the hardest hit of any Bears defender in the game, and possibly all season. Harris uses picture-perfect form tackling to stop Gerhart – the former Stanford Cardinal who spent his college career running over people – from picking up the first down. It was an outstanding hit that partially made up for Harris' egregious missed tackle during the touchdown play on the Vikings' opening drive. Yet what made this hit possible was the action of Tillman, who takes on the fullback with reckless abandon. One of the best things a defender can do on a run play is bring down the lead blocker. This creates a pile of bodies that clogs up the hole. Since Tillman stuck his face in there and brought Tahi to his knees, Gerhart was force to leave his feet to get through the hole, opening his body up for a brutal hit.
Jeremy Stoltz is editor-in-chief of the Business Ledger, the business resource for suburban Chicago. He is a frequent contributor to both Bear Report and BearReport.com.
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