Tales from the Tape: Defense

The Bears defense was gashed both on the ground and through the air in the Monday's loss. JS goes to the film room and analyzes what the tape reveals about the defensive performance.

First quarter

-2nd and 9. The Lions run an end-around to WR Nate Burleson. S Chris Harris closes on the play quickly and is in the backfield with the receiver dead to rights for a five-yard loss. Even in slow motion, you can see Harris' eyes on the ball carrier. Yet at the last second he slows up and lets Burleson go right around him. Charles Tillman does a good job holding his ground on the outside and takes Burleson down for a minimal gain.

This was the type of play that, had Harris dropped Burleson in the backfield, could have lit a spark under Chicago's defense. I'm not sure what he was thinking or what he was but he clearly failed on what could have been a five-yard loss.

-3rd and 2. The Lions line up with three receivers and QB Matthew Stafford in shotgun. To his right is RB Jahvid Best. TE Brandon Pettigrew is lined up on the left edge, with LB Lance Briggs directly across from him. Tillman is showing press coverage outside on WR Calvin Johnson. At the snap, Pettigrew tries to release from the line but Briggs grabs him and won't let him by. On the outside, Tillman chucks Johnson and doesn't allow him to release down field. Best swings around the right side of the line and into the middle of the field but he's picked up by LB Nick Roach. DE Israeal Idonije uses a bull rush on T Gosder Cherilus. Stafford has nowhere to throw the ball and steps up in the pocket. Idonije sheds the blocker and takes the quarterback down for the sack.


DE Israel Idonije
Dennis Wierzbicki/US Presswire

This was a coverage sack. Idonije's rush was nothing special except for the fact he kept at it. Stafford was looking for a short gain over the middle yet the linebackers didn't allow it. Briggs did a great job of holding up Pettigrew and Roach picked up Best. Tillman worked over Johnson on the outside, leaving Stafford with no options.

Second quarter

-3rd and 8. Stafford is in shotgun with Johnson out wide to his right. Tillman is a few yards across from the receiver. Chris Harris is 12 yards off the ball, shading toward Johnson. At the snap, Stafford drops back to pass. Tillman allows the receiver a free release and then passes him off to the deep zone. Johnson head fakes like he's going to run an out pattern, which freezes Harris. The receiver then cuts up field and blows past everyone. Stafford hits him in stride for a 73-yard touchdown.

This was a 3rd-and-long play. Why did Tillman not bump Johnson at the line? When any team allows the best receiver on the opposing offense a free release, he's going to make them pay. Harris had no chance on this play. The transition from corner to safety this year in the Bears' secondary has been awful so far, giving up a number of big passing plays.

-1st down. Stafford hands the ball off to Best running off-tackle left. Pettigrew drives Idonije inside and opens a hole on the outside. LG Rob Sims does the same to DT Henry Melton. Harris flies up as the ball is being snapped yet is out of control and ends up colliding with WR Nate Burleson. Best runs right by Harris. CB D.J. Moore comes up to make the tackle but the diminutive Best runs him over. Tillman takes the ball carrier down after a 10-yard gain.

Idonije got sealed inside by a tight end on this play. That should never happen. He's far too big and strong to let a non-lineman move him that easily. And Melton just cannot get off a block to save his life. Harris was out of control in trying to support the run and left the back end bare. And how could Moore not get Best to the ground? This was just an all-around awful play by the defense.

-1st down. Stafford drops back to pass. Briggs fakes a blitz then drops into a shallow zone. Moore is covering Burleson. The Bears rush just the front four but get no pressure. Burleson runs straight down the seam. Stafford throws over the middle but Moore undercuts the pass and intercepts the ball.

This was a great play by Moore to keep good underneath position on the receiver, as he had over-the-top help from the safeties. He turns head to the quarterback at the perfect moment and makes a play on the ball. He's the only member of the secondary with an interception through the first five games.


DE Julius Peppers
Scott Boehm/Getty

Third quarter

-1st down. Stafford drops back to pass. He's looking for Pettigrew over the middle on a hitch but Briggs picks him up. Stafford pulls the ball down and runs into DE Julius Peppers. Yet Peppers can't bring the QB down for the sack, which allows Stafford to get back to the line of scrimmage.

Peppers dealt with a knee injury this game, so it's somewhat understandable his lack of production. Yet you can't blame his knee on this play. This was an opportunity for him to lay a hit on the opposing QB and he couldn't even get him down. Peppers has yet to show the same form this year that's made him a six-time Pro Bowl selection.

-3rd and 6. Stafford is in shotgun with Johnson out wide to his left. The Bears show blitz up the middle with Briggs and LB Brian Urlacher. At the snap, Briggs blitzes, as does Moore off the left edge. Stafford sees the blitz and calmly fires a pass to Johnson running a slant pattern. Tillman, who gave Johnson a five-yard cushion, can't make a break on the ball in time. The receiver picks up 17 yards and the first down.

Another 3rd down where the Bears gave Johnson a cushion and a free release. All the receiver had to do was angle inside and he was wide open. Had Tillman been in his face at the line of scrimmage, it might have forced Stafford to hang on to the ball longer, which might have given the blitz time to finish. Instead, it was an easy first down.

-The more film I watch, the more I'm beginning to believe that Matt Toeaina is the best defensive tackle on this team. He's not racking up big numbers but he's constantly being disruptive. Henry Melton, Amobi Okoye and Anthony Adams did nothing in this game but allow blockers to move them at will. Toeaina was the only one holding his ground against the run and the only one getting pressure on the quarterback.

-1st down at the Chicago 18-yard line. Stafford lines up under center with Pettigrew on the right edge. At the snap, Stafford fakes a handoff to Best. Urlacher and Briggs both bite hard on the fake. At the same time, Pettigrew releases from the line and gets behind the linebackers. Stafford hits his tight end wide open at the 4-yard line. Pettigrew takes the ball in for a touchdown.

This one was all on the linebackers. They both take a step forward on the play fake, leaving a big empty space in the middle of the field. Pettigrew has no one around him when he makes the catch. The linebackers, once considered the strength of this team, are playing just as poorly as the rest of the defense right now.

-For an in-depth breakdown of Best's 88-yard touchdown run, click here to view this week's X-and-O Show.


DE Nick Reed
Jonathan Daniel/Getty

-DE Nick Reed showed well this preseason, earning him a spot on the roster, but he's done nothing during the regular season. He was given plenty of reps Monday due to Peppers' injured knee yet he did nothing with them. Right now, he's just another defensive lineman underperforming.

Fourth quarter

-1st down. The Lions run Best up the middle. Melton absolutely explodes off the ball and drives RG Stephen Peterman three yards into the backfield. Best has to sidestep the two players and is taken down by Chris Harris at the line of scrimmage.

This is what Melton is capable of. He's the quickest player off the ball along the Bears' defensive line, when he wants to be. When you see him make plays like this, then get pushed around the rest of the game, you begin to wonder if it's a matter of effort. The talent is there, the production isn't.

-1st down. Stafford is in shotgun and hands the ball off to Best running in the B gap on the left side. Melton gets double-teamed and caught up inside. Next to him, Peppers locks up with Pettigrew and just stands there dancing with him. Harris flies up from his safety spot, yet guesses wrong and shoots the inside gap. Best bounces it outside and Peppers just watches him go by. He scrambles toward the sideline, then puts a juke move on Brandon Meriweather before being taken down by Tillman. The play goes for a 43-yard gain.

Again, I understand Peppers had a banged up knee, but if he couldn't even come off a block from a tight end, he shouldn't have been out there. He made no effort on this play and was the main reason Best was able to turn the corner. Although, had Harris broken down and shadowed the runner instead of flying headfirst into the wrong gap, he could have limited the damage done on this play. Harris' return was supposed to provide a boost on the back end but he played out of control all night, obviously forgetting his duties as the last line of defense.

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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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