Tales From the Tape: Defense

JS goes to the film room and provides an in-depth analysis of the overall performance of Chicago's defense in yesterday's 27-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field.

First quarter

-First play of the game. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is in shotgun with RB Ryan Grant to his left. Rodgers hands the ball off to Grant who crosses to the right side and cuts upfield. At the point of attack, NT Matt Toeaina gets double-teamed initially, which allows C Scott Wells to swing his hips around. RG Josh Sitton peels off and takes out LB Brian Urlacher. Wells then drives Toeaina onto his back. Grant busts through the hole for 13 yards.

The Packers gained 100 yards as a team and the majority of it came up the middle. Toeaina and Anthony Adams both got pushed around inside could not eat up space. On this play, Toeaina gets driven to the ground, opening a large gap in the interior of the line.

-1st down. Rodgers is in shotgun with two receivers to his right: TE Jermichael Finley split wide and WR Greg Jennings in the slot. Green Bay runs a swing screen to Jennings. Finley blocks CB Tim Jennings, leaving S Craig Steltz alone to make the tackle. Steltz flies up to the line of scrimmage but doesn't break down. Jennings uses a stutter step and flies right past Steltz, picking up 11 yards.

Steltz had a very rough day and was picked on by the Packers' offense for most of the afternoon. On this play, he comes up to the ball carrier quickly but he's out of control. He never sinks his hips or slows down to make the tackle. The play went for the fourth straight first down in Green Bay's first four plays.


S Craig Steltz
Dennis Wierzbick/US Presswire

-1st down. The Packers line up in a three-receiver set, with Jennings wide right. Tim Jennings is covering the receiver, giving him a seven-yard cushion at the line. LB Lance Briggs and S Brandon Meriweather are up near the right side of the line, showing blitz. At the snap, both players blitz. Meriweather goes through the line untouched but is picked up well by RB James Starks. Jennings runs a 20-yard in route and is wide open after he makes his break. Rodgers hits him for a 19-yard gain.

Tim Jennings is a tougher player than Zack Bowman but he had no chance against Greg Jennings all day. On this play, the blitz created man-to-man coverage on the outside. The receiver ran Jennings off the ball near the end zone, where there was no threat of the deep ball. Still, Jennings got caught flat-footed and couldn't make a break on the ball. Greg Jennings finished the game with 9 catches for 119 yards, most of those coming against Tim Jennings. The Bears might want to consider giving Bowman some more reps with the first team going forward, as he's a superior cover corner.

-The first touchdown to Finley came with Meriweather covering him one-on-one on the outside. Finley just uses a quick head fake before cutting inside on the slant. Meriweather bites on the fake and the tight end is wide open in the back of the end zone.

-On the first two plays of the next Packers drive, Rodgers hits Jennings on simple five-yard out patterns. Both are completed for 8 yards. The Bears' offense could learn a lesson here. Not everything needs to be complicated. Run your receiver six yards up field and have him break outside. It's as trouble-free as it gets. Green Bay made it easy on themselves in this game. Chicago needs to take a page from their rival's book.

-2nd down. Rodgers hands the ball off to Starks running up the middle. DT Amobi Okoye splits the gap between center and left guard. He fights his way through the line and hits Starks at the line of scrimmage. Briggs fills the hole and cleans up the no-gain play. Okoye continues to impress, demonstrating here his prowess against the run. So far this year, he has far outperformed the rest of Chicago's free agent acquisitions.

Second quarter

-2nd and 1. Rodgers hands off to Grant running middle right. Urlacher fills the gap and takes lead blocker John Kuhn head on. He stands Kuhn up then pushes him aside and makes the tackle for no gain on Grant. Both Briggs and Urlacher were outstanding yesterday. On this play, Urlacher puts himself in the right position, outmuscles Kuhn and has the presence of mind to wrap up the ball carrier. Outstanding play.

-3rd and 1. Rodgers is under center with the backs in I-formation behind him. Finley is on the right edge of the line. Before the snap, he motions out wide, taking Steltz with him. At the snap, Finley runs straight down the sideline. Rodgers waits a few seconds then fires a back shoulder pass to Finley, who stops on a dime and makes the catch. This was a matchup the Packers were looking to create and take advantage of. Steltz had no chance against Finley one-on-one here. Chicago's defense would have been better off bringing in an extra cornerback on most plays just to shadow Finley, as he burned their safeties all day.

-DE Israel Idonije has been having trouble against the run all season. On the following play, he gets locked up with T Marshall Newhouse – the backup filling in for Bulaga, who left the game due to injury – and is driven inside. He is unable to shed the block which allows Grant the edge, where he picks up 9 yards. Idonije is far too big to get pushed around like he does. He needs to start sinking his hips and using his hands to get rid of blockers.

-On the next play, Idonije rushes so hard off the edge that he loses his balance and flies 10 yards into the backfield. All Rodgers has to do is step up to the area vacated by Idonije and he finds Finley for the touchdown.

-1st down. The Packers run Starks off-tackle right. Briggs scrapes down the line and makes the hits on Starks in the backfield. The plays goes for a 1-yard loss. Briggs had another play later in the game identical to this. He diagnoses the play, sprints full speed down the line, keeping his eyes on the ball carrier, and makes the tackle. Just one of the many great plays he had on the day.

Third quarter


LB Lance Briggs
Scott Boehm/Getty

-1st down. Starks runs up the middle. DT Henry Melton explodes into RG Josh Sitton. He then swims past the blocker and takes Starks down for a loss. Melton is frustrating because he's easily capable of making these types of plays against the run on a regular basis. But more often than not, he gets locked up with linemen in the middle and pushed out of the play. The key here was his push off the ball. He drives Sitton back with his initial hit, rocking him back on his heals, which allows Melton to make the play.

-1st down. The Packers run Grant off the right side. DT Anthony Adams gets driven so far inside that a huge cutback lane opens to the left. Grant cuts back and flies past Urlacher, who is locked up with Kuhn. The plays goes for 14 yards. This was just one of the many plays where Adams not only fails to get any push but also gets ridden out of the play. On the next play, Wells drives Adams out of the hole and buries him to the ground, resulting in a 16-yard run for Green Bay. Adams hasn't been able to anchor in the middle all season and played very poorly in this game. One has to wonder if he's fully recovered from the calf injury he suffered in Bourbonnais.

-1st down. Rodgers is in shotgun with two receivers to his left and one receiver, James Jones, wide right. The Bears blitz both D.J. Moore off the left edge and Urlacher up the middle. Tim Jennings gives Jones a seven-yard cushion. The blitz is picked up well. Jones runs an 8-yard hitch. Moore is so far off the receiver that he has no chance at closing on the ball. Rodgers hits Jones for a six-yard gain.

Chicago showed blitz here and they brought two extra guys. Why then was Jennings so far off the receiver? He had safety help over the top, so it makes no sense to give a cushion large enough for the receiver to easily run a six-yard hitch. Jennings should have been up on the line taking away the short pass. Otherwise, what's the point of blitzing?

Fourth quarter

-1st down. The Packers run Starks on a sweep to the left. Briggs blitzes up the left side, plows through the block of LG T.J. Lang and hits Starks in the backfield immediately after he receives the hand off. Briggs punches the ball out and forces a fumble. DE Julius Peppers falls on the ball for Chicago's first turnover of the day. This was another big play by Briggs that brought new life into the Bears. He does it all by himself too, practically willing his team back in the game.

-1st down. The Packers line up in a three-receiver set. Finley is on the right edge of the line and Rodgers is in shotgun. The Bears show blitz from D.J. Moore off the left edge and Urlacher up the middle. At the snap, Urlacher breaks away from the line and drops back in coverage. Finely runs straight up the hash. Rodgers fires a quick pass to Finley but Urlacher undercuts the ball and makes the interception.

Just another great play by one of Chicago's Pro Bowl linebackers. Had the Bears' offense been able to capitalize after this turnover, the team would have been one score away from winning the game. Despite getting carved up early, the defense never gave up in this game and gave the Bears an opportunity at a comeback.

-One thing you'll notice after this film review is almost no mention of DE Julius Peppers. That's because he was invisible this game. He was facing a 35-year-old tackle on one side with bad knees, Chad Clifton, and a backup on the other side of the line. He did earn a sack but it was a coverage sack, where it took him nearly six seconds to get to Rodgers. This was a game that Peppers needed to cause chaos in the backfield. Instead, he was silent for most of the contest and finished with just two tackles.

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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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