X-and-O Show: Week 9 vs. Eagles

The Bears emerged from last night's victory 5-3 and in possession of the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC. We got to the film room to break down a pair of crucial plays that led to the victory.

Defense: Tip Drill

Second quarter. 1st and 10 at the Chicago 19-yard line. The Eagles line up in a three-receiver set with QB Michael Vick under center and RB LeSean McCoy alone in the backfield. A receiver is split wide to either side of the field, with WR DeSean Jackson in the left slot. TE Brent Celek is positioned on the right edge of the line. The Bears counter with a nickel package. Linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher are supporting the four down linemen. Nickelback D.J. Moore is across from Jackson, yet just before the snap, he slides inside and shows blitz off the left edge. S Major Wright moves up to cover Jackson with S Chris Conte shifting into the deep middle zone.


S Major Wright
Kirby Lee/US Presswire

At the snap, Vick drops back to pass. Moore blitzes from the left side, as does Urlacher up the middle. Celek and McCoy both stay into block and the blitz is picked up well. Vick takes five steps, then plants and fires over the middle. Chicago runs a three-deep zone coverage. Wright sits on Jackson's outside shoulder and forces the receiver to cut inside. Wright passes him off to the deep zone, which is when Vick fires the pass. Yet Briggs slides underneath into the throwing lane and is able to tip the ball up in the air. Wright pulls down the interception then returns the ball all the way to midfield.

This was a huge red zone turnover that not only stopped the Eagles from scoring, but also kept momentum on the Bears' side. Chicago gave a Cover 2 look with two deep safeties, then rotated to a three-deep zone blitz. When Urlacher blitzed up the middle, Vick assumed Jackson would be open on his inside cut. Yet the Bears used zone coverage, not man-to-man, and the Philadelphia quarterback did not account for Briggs in the underneath area. This allows Briggs to step into the passing lane and force the interception. This was a well-designed defensive play that shifted looks and created confusion for Vick. At first the defense showed Cover 2 and then man coverage, when all the while it was a three-deep zone. Chicago's defensive coaches did a great job all game of mixing up their play calls and making reads difficult for the Eagles' offense.

Offense: Game-Winning Fade

Fourth quarter. 2nd and goal at the Philadelphia 5-yard line. The Bears line up in a three-receiver set with QB Jay Cutler under center and RB Matt Forte alone in the backfield. Two receivers are to the left side of the play and WR Earl Bennett is split wide right. The Eagles counter with a nickel package. They place eight players in the box and man up with a cornerback on each receiver. There is no safety over the top, as he's in the box with the linebackers, each of whom is showing blitz. Asante Samuel is lined up five yards across from Bennett. Before the snap, Samuel takes a few steps toward the middle of the field.


WR Earl Bennett
Howard Smith/US Presswire

At the snap, Cutler drops back. The offensive line crashes left, except for LG Chris Williams who pulls right to lead block. Forte hesitates as if to stay in and block then turns and looks for the shovel pass. Yet Cutler doesn't shovel the ball. Instead, he takes three steps back and lobs a fade pass in the back right corner of the end zone. At the same time, Bennett releases cleanly from the line and races to the back pylon. Samuel gets caught flat-footed and out of position and cannot make a play on the ball. Bennett pulls in the reception for the game-winning touchdown.

This play was designed as a shovel pass but when Cutler saw the eight men in the box and a one-on-one matchup with Bennett out wide, with no safety help, he couldn't pass it up. So instead of pitching the ball forward, Cutler rolled a little to his right and launched a perfect touch pass to the back corner. Coordinator Mike Martz doesn't allow audibles in his offense, yet Cutler still took advantage of the sure touchdown. I still can't figure out what Samuel was doing playing five yards off and shading inside of Bennett. Like the two corners on the far side of the field, Samuel should have been up in the receiver's face. Giving him a cushion just allowed Bennett a free run into the end zone for the easy score.

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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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