Tales from the Tape: Defense

It was a lopsided loss for the Bears in the team's second preseason game. Some units performed poorly, while others showed significant progress. JS goes to the film room and breaks down what the tape reveals.

First quarter

-First play of the game. Giants fake a handoff to the fullback up the middle and QB Eli Manning pitches to RB Ahmad Bradshaw running wide left. WLB Nick Roach bites on the fake initially, taking a few steps inside, and is unable to recover, as does DE Julius Peppers, allowing Bradshaw the edge. Great play-call by N.Y. anticipating a jacked-up Bears defense that was surely going to over-pursue on the game's first play. Peppers (6-7, 283) is such an athletic freak that he's able to chase down and tackle Bradshaw (5-10, 214) before the first down marker.

-Next play, Bradshaw runs left out of I-formation. DT Matt Toeaina gets leverage on C David Baas and drives him right into the ball carrier. Urlacher fills well and sheds the lead blocker. Bradshaw has to slow down and cut back but both CB Tim Jennings and S Chris Harris, who had crept into the box just before the snap, were there to take him down. This was an outstanding play, top to bottom, from the defense, especially Toeaina. Unfortunately this was about as good as it got.

-On the Bears second punt of the night, S Chris Conte is the first player to reach the runner. He breaks down under control, doesn't bite on any of the returner's moves and takes the ball carrier down. It's always good to see a rookie making a play on special teams.

-2nd and 10, Peppers explodes into RT Kareem McKenzie and uses his hands to push the blocker aside. Manning is rushed out of the pocket and the pass is incomplete. Going against Peppers every day in practice is the reason T Gabe Carimi has been solid in the pass protection the first two games.

CB D.J. Moore
Al Bello/Getty

-1st and 10. New York runs a stretch play right. DE Israel Idonije slips inside the block of TE Bear Pascoe and gets to RB Brandon Jacobs behind the line of scrimmage, yet can't take the runner down. It's a tackle he has to make. Yet even worse on this play was the effort of DT Henry Melton, who gets sealed off by T Kareem McKenzie and is never able to separate. Toeaina is able to separate and he chases down the play from the opposite side for the tackle.

-4th and 4. Manning throws a lob pass on a wheel route to WR Victor Cruz. It's man coverage and nickelback D.J. Moore never turns his head around, allowing Cruz to go up for the ball uncontested. The play goes for 21 yards. To me, the backup cornerbacks are the weakest group on the team. Bowman is hurt, Jennings is wildly inconsistent and as shown here, D.J. Moore can be a liability in coverage. Neither Corey Graham nor Joshua Moore has distinguished himself either. If the front office is going to upgrade the personnel through another move in free agency or via trade, it needs to be at cornerback.

Second quarter

-View this week's X-and-O-Show for an in-depth breakdown of Jacobs' touchdown run.

-1st and 10. The Giant line up in a power set with two tight ends and Bradshaw alone in the backfield. Off the left edge, DE Nick Reed gets a good jump and uses a quick stutter step to go around Pascoe's outside shoulder. Reed is in the backfield immediately and forces an incompletion. With Corey Wootton out, Reed is making a bid for the fourth defensive end spot. He's lacking size but he's far quicker than Vernon Gholston.

-2nd and 10. Giants run a counter trey left with two pulling linemen. Melton sidesteps his blocker and is in the backfield quick enough to disrupt the first pulling lineman. This leaves a lane open for LB Brian Iwuh to fill and make the nice tackle. Melton didn't fill up the stat sheet but his penetration often helps him makes plays like these; plays which end up making the linebackers look good.

-2nd and 11. Three-receiver set, Manning in shotgun, draw to Bradshaw. Iwuh shows no patience and fills a gap that the runner has almost crossed already. Roach flies up too fast as well and loses his balance. And Idonije allows himself to get badly sealed inside by TE Travis Beckum. Bradashaw is hit by D.J. Moore after about eight yards but drags the nickelback like a doll for another four yards.

-Rookie LB Dom DeCicco just lets Greg Jones through for the punt block. He's fighting for a roster spot. That hurts his chances.

-David Carr throws a fade to Domenik Hixon in the corner of the end zone. Corey Graham doesn't turn his head and allows the touchdown. Again, another bad play by one of the backup cornerbacks.

Third quarter

-2nd and 1. QB David Carr hands off to RB D.J. Ware up the middle. DeCicco scrapes down nicely and is in position to make the tackle behind the line of scrimmage, yet he gets flat footed on the runner's juke move and ends up diving at Ware's feet, missing the tackle. The play goes for a first down.

-2nd and 2. I-formation, run up the middle. DE Vernon Gholston, lined up on the left side of the defensive line, gets a great jump and is in the backfield immediately. He's a foot past the offensive tackle yet all Stacy Andrews has to do is reach back and he's able to hold off the defender. Gholston stops moving his feet and watches helplessly as the runner flies by him for the first down. This was a typical Gholston play. He had perfect position and leverage. All he had to do was drop his shoulder and drive into the backfield and the play would have gone for a loss. Yet, as usual, all the opposing lineman has to do was get a hand on him and he's toast.

DE Vernon Gholston
Scott Boehm/Getty

A few plays later, TE Bear Pascoe drives Gholston four yards inside on an off-tackle play. If Marinelli can make him a quality contributor, it will be one hell of a success story.

Fourth quarter

2nd and 8 from the Giants 3-yard line. Strong right, I-formation, run up the middle. Weak-side linebacker J.T. Thomas decides fill the backside gap and runs himself out of the play. Strong-side linebacker Chris Johnson tries to fill at the point of attack but cannot get off the block of FB Henry Hynoski. And middle linebacker Dom DeCicco gets bounced around in the wash like a pinball. The backup linebacker spot is almost as worrisome as the cornerbacks. Besides Brian Iwuh, no other linebacker has any NFL experience. If the front office doesn't make an upgrade – they did make a failed claim on Thaddeus Young last week, so they're trying – and a starter gets injured, the defense will be crippled.

-3rd and 7 at the Giants' 4-yard line. Carr drops back to pass. DE Mario Addison gets upfield quickly and uses a nice inside spin move to clear the tackle. He gets clipped by the guard just before he can get to the passer, otherwise it would have been a safety. Addison didn't do much else this game but made a real nice play here.

-DeCicco does make two good tackles near the end of the game: one on a scrape where he takes on a block, keeps his feet moving and takes out the runner's legs; the other where he's able to chase down the ball carrier after he bounced the play outside. DeCicco is playing linebacker for the first time and of all the young guys, he has the most potential.

-2nd and 8 on the Bears 17-yard line. Carr fakes a hand off and strong-side linebacker J.T. Thomas bites. He takes two steps forward, allowing TE Daniel Coats to get behind him. Coates is wide open for the touchdown. Like I said earlier, Thomas is a liability in coverage.

-1st and 10, Da'Rel Scott runs off-tackle left. DE Mario Addison holds his position against the offensive tackle. Scott runs into the tackle. Addison believes he has bounced it outside so he turns and takes off toward the sideline. Scott cuts inside and DT Tank Tyler is right there for the tackle, as is LB Deron Minor. Both players over-pursue and allow Scott to cut inside. The back shoots down a crease and is gone. The play goes for a 97-yard TD. Tyler and Minor had an opportunity to drop the runner for a loss and possibly a safety. It's amazing both could put themselves so far out of position when they were so near the running back. Minor won't make it past first cuts and Tyler dropped even further away from the cut line with this play.

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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.

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