Bears on Offense: Olsen the Blocker?
At the snap, Cutler hands the ball to Forte running off-tackle right. The offensive line uses a zone-blocking scheme. C Olin Kreutz, RG Roberto Garza and RT J'Marcus Webb all pick up the guys in front of them, while LG Chris Williams does a great job of getting to the second level and picking off LB David Harris. At the same time, Olsen leads into the hole and makes a huge block on Pool. This opens a crease for Forte to slip through. He reaches the secondary without being touched, then breaks a tackle from S Dwight Lowery and goes in for the 22-yard score.
The transformation of this offensive line has been amazing to watch all season. Position coach Mike Tice has been able to turn this group, which struggled mightily in the first half of the season, into a serviceable front five. The use of zone blocking has also made the line more productive, as they are able to work collectively instead of being forced to go one on one each play – a credit to coordinator Mike Martz. Yet it was the block of Olsen on this play that springs Forte for the TD. Olsen was drafted to catch balls, not block. Coming out of the University of Miami, he was known for his poor blocking skills. Now in his fourth season, Olsen is being shifted into the fullback position and able to lay crushing leads for his runner. To top it off, the Jets were in a run defense with nine players in the box, yet they still couldn't overcome the run blocking of this much-improved front.
Bears on Defense: Uh, What Are You Doing?
At the snap, Sanchez immediately fakes a handoff to Tomlinson, bringing both linebackers up toward the line of scrimmage. The three receivers all head downfield, with a defender running stride for stride with each, indicating man coverage. S Chris Harris creeps up toward the play and is in position to cover Keller, who released from the line. Yet as soon as Harris meets Keller, he stops and watches the tight end run right past him. Sanchez hits the tight end just after he passes Harris. Keller then rumbles for another 10 yards before being tackled by S Major Wright. The play goes for a 26-yard gain.
Harris is a hard hitter – a veteran who has a knack for making the big play. In fact, his interception late in this game sealed the win for Chicago. Yet he makes some of the most egregious mistakes of any Bears defender. What was he doing on this play? It was man coverage, and his man was the tight end, yet he just lets him run right by. He was in good position to cover Keller but then just stops moving, as if he forgot what he should have been doing. Harris has been making these types of mental gaffes since the preseason and, if they continue, could end up costing the Bears a playoff win.
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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