Defense: Gutted like a fish
Second quarter. 1st and 10 at the Chicago 18-yard line. The Giants line up in a three-receiver set. QB Eli Manning is under center and RB Brandon Jacobs is alone in the backfield. A receiver is split wide to either side of the field, with WR Jacob Cruz in the right slot. The Bears counter with a nickel package. The four down linemen have linebackers Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach behind them. D.J. Moore is the nickelback, lined up across from Cruz. Before the snap, Cruz goes in motion left across the field. Moore starts to go with him, then returns to his originally spot on the right edge of the line – thus showing blitz. Roach slides out and lines up one-on-one with Cruz on the left side. Urlacher ends up behind left end Julius Peppers.
At the snap, Manning hands the ball to Jacobs running up the middle. Moore blitzes off the right edge and is picked up. DT Henry Melton gets penetration through the zero gap but runs past the ball carrier. On the left side, Peppers, Urlacher and DT Matt Toeaina all get sealed to the left side. This opens a huge hole in the middle of the line. Jacobs busts through untouched. S Major Wright comes up to make the tackle but takes an awful angle and doesn't break down. The runner uses a quick juke move to get around Wright then carries S Chris Harris into the end zone for a Giants touchdown.
As soon as Moore stopped following Cruz across the field, the Bears gave away their defense. Manning knew that, if Moore wasn't blitzing, he would have stayed with the receiver. Manning then calls a run audible. Urlacher, for some reason, shifts to the left edge, in the area vacated by Roach, leaving nobody backing the defensive line. Manning did a great job of reading the play, yet the Bears did nothing to hide what they were doing and did not adjust once the man in motion put the unit out of position. And while Wright was a sure tackler in the first preseason game, the missed tackle on this play was just horrible.
Offense: Additional protection
G Edwin Williams
Third quarter. 1st and 10 at the New York 18-yard line. The Bears line up in a power-right set, with two tight ends stacked on the right side of the line. QB Caleb Hanie is under center and RB Marion Barber is deep in the backfield. TE Kyle Adams is lined up in the fullback spot, off-set left. The Giants counter with a base 4-3, with CB Brian Witherspoon lined up in the box off the right edge. Before the snap, Adams motions right five yards until he is lined up off-set right.
At the snap, Hanie turns and fakes a handoff to Barber running right. LG Edwin Williams pulls right as if to lead block but then slows up after the play fake and stays in to block. The rest of the offensive line, including the two right-side tight ends, block straight up. Only Adams and the wide receiver release into pass patterns. Eventually, Barber slips through into the right flat, indicating a possible screen but at that point, the rush has already gotten to Hanie, who has to throw it at Barber's feet. The play goes for an incompletion.
This play may seem innocuous but it actually demonstrates a lot about what Martz's strategy may be this year. For run plays, Martz uses a lot of pull traps and lead blocks by pulling linemen. On almost every run, at least one lineman is sliding across the line behind his teammates. Williams slides right on this play but stops after a few yards and settles in to pass black. This, in essence, builds a second line for the defensive linemen to fight through. Martz did this all night, sometimes with two offensive linemen. When you include the tight ends, you not only have max protection but the play is set up to force opposing rushers through two waves of blockers. And everyone comes to their place using the same first steps they would use on a typical run play, adding another level of diguise. This looks to be one way that Martz is planning on providing additional protection for his signal callers in case the front five alone isn't getting the job done. This "double line" will more often than not give Bears passers the four seconds they need to execute a five-step drop and throw.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.