-2nd and 5. The Bears line up strong right. QB Jay Cutler is under center. RB Matt Forte is deep in the backfield with FB Tyler Clutts off-set right. TE Kellen Davis motions across the field until he's lined up just outside of RT Frank Omiyale. At the snap, Cutler hands the ball to Forte on a stretch play to the right. The offensive line zone blocks and does a great job of getting the front seven sealed inside. Clutts leads off the edge and gets a good kickout block on S Sherrod Martin. Forte busts through the hole, then jukes S Charles Godfrey 10 yards down field. He scampers into Carolina territory for a 46-yard gain.
This play utilized zone blocking. No one pulled, as has been the standard so far this year. Instead, they all got on a track to the right, with linemen peeling off double teams and picking up linebackers at the second level. RG Chris Spencer stood out with his quickness in getting MLB Dan Connor blocked five yards down field. Considering how futile those traps and pulls have been the past two weeks, more zone calls could be just the answer.
-The next play is an up-the-middle run for RB Marion Barber. Again, each blocker takes on the guy in front of him, which locks up every defender in the box. And again Spencer gets to the linebacker. Barber makes a nice cut and picks up 10 yards.
RB Matt Forte
Rob Grabowski/US Presswire
-2nd and goal at the 4-yard line. Chicago lines up in a strong-right set with Cutler under center. He hands the ball off to Forte running off-tackle right. LG Chris Williams pulls right to lead block. Yet at the point of attack, TE Kellen Davis allows DE Greg Hardy to go right past him into the backfield. Hardy blindsides Williams, pushing him into the ball carrier. Forte has to bounce outside and is tackled for no gain.
The longer Davis is relied on as a blocker the longer the offense will struggle for consistency. With the way he's played, it would not be surprising if Matt Spaeth sees more time with the starters once he returns from injury.
-Even though it didn't work, I like the call of running Cutler on a QB draw on 3rd and goal from the five. The Bears used five receivers to spread the field. They had the line blocked but S Charles Godfrey was quick enough to get to the line and take Cutler down at the 1. Going forward, this gives opposing defenses one more thing to worry about in similar situations. This play call also doesn't give Cutler a chance to throw a red-zone interception.
-1st down. Cutler is under center with Clutts and Forte stacked in an I-formation behind him. He fakes a hand left off to Clutts before giving it to Forte running right. Williams pulls right, as does RG Lance Louis. DT Terrell McClain, who was lined up in the gap between Louis and RT Frank Omiyale, rushes into the area vacated by Louis. Omiyale tries to block down on him but barely gets a hand on the defender. McClain crashes into Williams as he tries to pull. This forces Forte to bounce outside, allowing Connor the time to get to the edge and take the runner down for a minimal gain.
This was the beginning of the end for Omiyale. McClain was facing in toward Louis, so Omiyale had to know that he'd be shooting that gap. Yet Omiyale comes off slow and high and can't seal the defender, which blows up the whole play.
-WR Roy Williams' only catch of the day came on a slant pattern where he was wide open and the ball was thrown perfectly. Those are the only passes he brings in. If anyone is near him or if the pass isn't directly at his chest, forget about it.
-1st and 10 at the Carolina 17-yard line. Bears line up strong right with Forte alone in the backfield. TE Kyle Adams motions from the left wing to the right wing. Cutler hands the ball to Forte off-tackle right. Chris Williams and C Roberto Garza both pull left. LT J'Marcus Webb does a great job sealing the defensive tackle and Kellen Davis, amazingly, seals the edge. Garza takes out a linebacker and Williams kicks out the safety. Forte goes untouched 17 yards and walks into the end zone.
This was just a great job of everybody working in unison and making their blocks. Yet we don't want to go overboard slobbering over the run game. Carolina has the worst front seven any team Chicago has faced so far, and may face the rest of the season. Two of their starting linebackers are hurt, including Pro Bowler Jon Beason. So the Bears should have been able to run the ball. Still, 224 total yards on the ground is nothing to sneeze at, no matter who you are playing.
-3rd and 2. Cutler is under center. Two receivers are lined up left and WR Dane Sanzenbacher is wide right. Before the snap, Sanzenbacher motions a few yards inside. At the snap, Sanzenbacher angles inside as if he's going to run a slant. CB R.J. Stanford breaks inside. The receiver then stops and breaks back outside. Stanford gets caught inside and Sanzenbacher is wide open. Cutler hits him in stride and the rookie races down the sideline for 16 yards.
These are the types of routes Sanzenbacher excels at. He's quick and can stop on a dime. He gets in and out of his cuts with good speed and has no problem creating separation. Expect his role in Martz's offense to grow as the season progresses. He's very valuable.
-1st and 10. Cutler drops back to pass. DE Charles Johnson rushes off the right edge. He fakes inside and then locks up briefly with Omiyale. Then Johnson swings outside and immediately creates two yards of separation from Omiyale. Johnson flies into the backfield and takes Cutler down for the sack.
This was the first and only sack the offense gave up. It was an ugly play by Omiyale who stops moving his feet and loses his balance. At that point, Spencer had been on the sideline with an injured hand, with Louis in at right guard. Shortly after that play, the coaches slid Louis to right tackle and put Spencer in at right guard. Omiyale sat for most of the rest of the game.
G Chris Spencer
-On the first play of the second half, the Bears run Forte to the left. On the backside, Davis is asked to reach block on Johnson. Yet Johnson just tosses Davis aside, pushing him three yards into the backfield. Davis just does not come off the ball hard. He never delivers a hit and always looks like he's trying to catch the defender. Until he figures out how to stay low and explode off the ball, both basically just a matter of effort, he'll never be even serviceable as a blocker.
-At this point, I believe Chris Spencer to be the best lineman on the team. He's not the most physical player but he does everything else right. He gets to the second level well and is aware enough to find guys and lock them up. He is quick when pulling down the line and is fundamentally sound. When T Gabe Carimi comes back from his knee injury, Spencer should start at right guard, with Louis possibly taking over for Williams at left guard.
-3rd and 2. Chicago uses an empty backfield with Cutler under center and two receivers to either side. WR Johnny Knox is in the left slot. Cutler drops back to pass. Knox runs a drag route five yards downfield. Cutler finds him just as he's clearing the linebackers. Knox then turns up field and picks up 22 yards.
The Bears are not using these drag routes enough. Both Hester and Knox have great speed. Drags would allow them to use that speed and outrun coverage. When the rest of the receivers go deep, the underneath receiver will then have plenty of room to run after the catch. Drag patterns are also great for beating the blitz.
-2nd and 10. Cutler is under center with Forte alone in the backfield. TE Kyle Adams is on the right edge, with two receivers to his right. LB Omar Gaither lines up across from Hester, who is in the right slot. Just before the snap, Gaither turns toward the line of scrimmage and blitzes. Adams releases downfield so Forte steps up and puts a good block on Gaither. Cutler still gets happy feet even though the blitz is picked up. Adams runs a deep cross and Cutler overthrows him. The ball sails into Godfrey's hands for the interception.
It was a one-point game at this point, so this turnover could have been deadly had the defense not done their job. This play is the result of Cutler taking a beating the first three games. He sees the blitz coming and he immediately panics, with good reason. So the blitz being picked up didn't mean anything, as Cutler was already too rattled to make a good throw. Until he gets some consistent protection – and Sunday was a good start for that – he'll continue to get the jitters every time an opposing defense rushes an extra guy.
-To view an in-depth breakdown of Forte's 40-yard jaunt that sealed the game for Chicago, click here.
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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.