Tales from the Tape: Defense

The Bears defense looked pretty good in Sunday's 24-18 win over the Buccanneers. After hours in the film room breaking down the defensive performance, here's what the tape reveals.

First quarter

-2nd and 10. Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman drops back to pass. The Bucs triple-team DE Julius Peppers rushing off the left edge. LB Lance Briggs blitzes off the right edge and is picked up. DT Henry Melton, DE Israel Idonije and DT Anthony Adams all have one-on-one matchups, yet none can get any pressure. Freeman floats to his left. Urlacher shadows the QB and begins rolling in the same direction. Freeman fires to WR Mike Williams, who is open running an out route 20 yards down field. Yet Urlacher is able to sprint into the passing lane and knock the ball down.

Peppers was triple-teamed on this play, and Briggs blitzed on the other side, yet Idonije, Melton and Adams got zero penetration. For the two defensive tackles, this has become the norm when rushing the pass. Melton's job as the under tackle is to disrupt the passing game by collapsing the middle of the pocket. He hasn't done that since Week 1.

Urlacher does a great job of anticipating the pass and breaking on the ball. At 35 years old, he still has a lot of the same speed that has made him one of the game's elite.


DT Amobi Okoye
Richard Mackson/US Presswire

-1st and 10. The Bucs line up in a three-receiver set with Freeman under center. Kregg Lumpkin is alone in the backfield. The Bears counter with a nickel package. Melton is playing DE on the left side, with DT Amobi Okoye across from RG Davin Joseph. Freeman hands the ball to Lumpkin running up the middle. The Bucs don't block Melton, who immediately slides down the line inside. Okoye explodes into Joseph and rocks the lineman backward. He then sheds the block and makes the tackle, with help from Melton, after a 1-yard gain.

Okoye does a great job here of working over a Pro Bowl offensive lineman. Recently Okoye has performed much better than Melton at defensive tackle, which is part of the reason Melton was lined up outside on this play. He's had trouble holding his ground inside, so expect Bears coaches to continue rotating him at defensive end, as his quickness and body type are better served on the outside.

-Click here for a breakdown of Chris Conte's interception.

-2nd and 11. The Bucs run Lumpkin up the middle. Anthony Adams lines up just to the left of C Jeremy Zuttah. Adams flies off the ball and Zuttah can do nothing but grab him and go along for the ride. Adams drives the lineman right into the path of the runner and Zuttah has to grab him to keep him from making the play. He gets called for a holding penalty as a result.

This was one of Adams' finest plays of the season so far. He explodes off the ball and drives the blocker four yards into the backfield, completely disrupting the play and forcing a holding call. It appears he may be fully recovered from the calf injury that has plagued him through the early part of the campaign.

-2nd and 21. Freeman drops back to pass. Idonije uses a swim move to get around RT Jeremy Trueblood to the outside. He hits Freeman as he's throwing and the ball flutters downfield. S Chris Harris breaks on the pass and dives to make the interception, yet he drops the ball. The pass falls incomplete.

Idonije uses good footwork and quick hands to swim past Trueblood on this play and nearly forces an interception. This is the potential Idonije has on every down. He needs to start making plays like these regularly. And Harris has to come down with this interception, if for nothing else to raise his confidence level.

Second quarter

-1st and 10. Lumpkin runs up the middle. Adams uses a lightning-quick swim move and goes around Zuttah untouched. He then makes the tackle in the backfield.

This was just another outstanding play by Adams, which bodes well for the run defense going forward.

-1st and 10. Freeman fakes a hand off to Lumpkin running off-tackle left. DT Stephen Paea explodes into Zuttah, driving him backward and tripping up RG Davin Joseph, who is pulling behind the center. Paea drives Zuttah back, which trips up Erik Lorig and knocks him to the ground. At the same time, Freeman bootlegs out to his right. LB Nick Roach holds contain on the outside and is in the quarterback's face immediately. He hits Freeman as he's trying to throw and the pass fall short and incomplete.


DT Stephen Paea & CB D.J. Moore
Kirby Lee/US Presswire

This was a great play by Paea of using his strength and quickness to take out three blockers inside. Roach also does a good job of holding his ground and not letting Freeman roll out. He's played spotty up to this point but Roach was solid on Sunday and is slowly improving at the SAM spot.

-The Bears played a lot of Cover 2 in this game and as a group they did a very good job of breaking on the short passes and gang tackling ball carriers. There were no egregious missed tackles, most likely due in large part to Major Wright being inactive.

Third quarter

-2nd and 10. The Bucs run Lumpkin off-tackle left. DE Julius Peppers locks up with LT Donald Penn, then releases from the lineman after he sees the ball carrier bounce the play outside. Peppers changes directions instantly and chases Lumpkin down for a loss of a yard.

Even with a knee that is less than 100 percent, Peppers is able to make this play look easy. He chases down a running back without even breaking a sweat and drops him behind the line – an excellent individual effort.

-1st and 10. Tampa Bay lines up in a power-I set with TE Kellen Winslow on the left edge. Freeman drops back to pass. The Bears blitz S Chris Harris off the left side. The offensive line does a good job of picking up the blitz. Freeman stands in and the pocket slowly collapses in on him. At the same time, Winslow releases from the line and runs a 15-yard crossing pattern. LB Lance Briggs picks him up and trails the receiver across the field. Freeman floats a high pass Winslow's way but Briggs undercuts the pass and makes the interception. He then gets a couple of good blocks, sidesteps a tackle and brings the ball back to the Bucs' 1-yard line. A block in the back penalty by Tim Jennings negates the return.

Typically, Winslow matched up in man coverage with Briggs is a mismatch in favor of the tight end. Yet on this play, Briggs does a very good job of finding the receiver and staying with him. It was a dumb throw by Freeman but Briggs was in perfect position to take advantage of the mistake. It's one of the many good plays he made in this game, earning him this week's NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

-1st and 10. The Bucs run a reverse to the right with WR Arrelious Benn. Peppers starts the play on the backside. He flies inside off the ball and works his way down the line behind the ball carrier. Henry Melton, who lined up at the RDE spot, does a good job slowing up Benn as he tries to turn the corner. This gives Peppers enough time to catch up with the receiver and take him down at the line of scrimmage.

There are very few, if any, defensive ends in this game that can chase down a wide receiver from the backside of the play. Peppers is 6-7, 285; Benn is 6-2, 220. We're lucky to be able to watch him every week.


DE Julius Peppers
Kyle Terada/US Presswire

-3rd and 9, Freeman drops back to pass. On the left side, DE Nick Reed slants inside and takes out LG Ted Larsen, who is attempting to block Okoye. Reed gets a hand on the blocker and Okoye breaks free from the lineman. Okoye is able to get to the quarterback and take him down for the team's only sack of the game.

This was nothing more than a pick play. Reed picked off Larsen, which set Okoye free. It wasn't called for defensive holding because Reed only quickly pushed Larsen, instead of holding him up. Hey, if you're not cheating, you're not trying.

-2nd and 11. Freeman lines up in shotgun with Winslow on the left edge. The Bears blitz Urlacher up the middle and Briggs off the right side. Nick Reed drops back from the line when the ball is snapped and runs stride for stride with Winslow. Freeman gets rid of the ball quickly to Winslow running a crossing route. The tight end drops the pass with Reed all over him.

Reed hasn't done much as a pass rusher this season but this was one heck of an athletic play here. The Bears overloaded one side with the blitz and Reed was asked to cover one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the game. Not only does he stay with Winslow, Reed causes an incompletion. There aren't a whole lot of defensive ends in the game that can make that play.

-The Bears blitzed a little more than usual against the Bucs and had a lot of success doing it. They used some zone blitzes and did a good job disguising the extra rusher. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli appears to finally be adding some creativity to his blitz packages.

Fourth quarter

-Click here for a breakdown of Urlacher's interception.

-1st and 10. Freeman pitches the ball to WR Michael Spurlock on a reverse. Yet Spurlock stops halfway across the field then turns around and looks downfield to pass. Mike Williams runs deep to the right sideline. Spurlock heaves a pass his way. S Chris Conte keeps the defender in front of him and times his jump perfectly, knocking down the pass and nearly picking up his second interception of the day.

Conte apparently understands well the first rule of playing free safety: never allow a receiver to get behind you. On this down, he doesn't get fooled by the trick play and is in perfect position to thwart the deep pass.

-1st and 10 at the Chicago 24-yard line. Freeman lines up in shotgun with WR Dezmon Briscoe lined up wide left. The Bears run a Cover 2 zone. CB Charles Tillman passes Briscoe to the deep zone occupied by Chris Harris. Briscoe uses a head fake inside then breaks to the left front pylon. Freeman sends the pass Briscoe's way. He catches the ball at the 2-yard line and takes it into the end zone before Harris can get there.

Harris looked like he was wearing cement shoes on this play. He didn't read the route well and his reaction time was grandfather slow. It looks as if his hamstring injury is still bothering him, as he's struggling mightily covering receivers in the deep half. Either he's still injured or he's lost a couple of steps. With any luck, the bye will allow him to get back to 100 percent.

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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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