Defense: One run stuff of many
First quarter. 1st and 10 at the Chicago 38-yard line. The Bears line up in a strong-right, three-receivers set. QB Jay Cutler is under center and RB Marion Barber is alone in the backfield. Two receivers are to the right of the play, with one split left. TE Kellen Davis is positioned on the right edge of the line. The Lions counter with a base 4-3. DE Cliff Avril is lined up across from Davis. LB Justin Durant is behind Avril. No player is showing blitz.
At the snap, Cutler hands the ball to Barber running off-tackle right. RG Chris Spencer pulls around behind RT Lance Louis to lead through the hole. Louis attempts to crash down on DT Ndamukong Suh, but the defender sidesteps the block attempt and sends Louis flying into the second level. C Roberto Garza attempts to get out and block MLB Stephen Tulloch but he trips over Louis and falls down. Spencer stops his pull and tries to pick up Suh, who easily fights through the block. On the backside, LG Chris Williams tries to cut off and seal DT Corey Williams, but the defender overpowers him and works his way down the line toward the ball carrier. At the point of attack, Davis attempts to lock up Avril but the defender easily chucks him aside. Avril is in the backfield immediately, giving Barber nowhere to run. Avril hits him and is then backed up by Durant, Tulloch, Suh and Williams. The five defenders take the runner down for a three-yard loss.
Just seconds before an awful display of blocking
Despite the score, Chicago's offense really struggled in yesterday's game. The Bears' defense turned the ball over six times, yet the offense gained just 232 total yards on the day. Time of possession was nearly identical. The team's lack of production on offense was due to poor execution, specifically along the offensive line. The front five had been developing rapidly in the past three games but really took a big step backward against the Lions. Detroit has arguably the best defensive line in the game but that's not a good enough reason to be so completely dominated from start to finish.
On this play, Louis, who has been praised recently, is barely able to get a hand on Suh, which disrupted the entire play. Williams had an awful backside block and Spencer was unable to contain Suh as well. And this experiment of using Davis to block defensive ends one-on-one has to stop. He has shown time and time again that he just isn't up to the task. He lacks the technique and agility to get the job done, and is more often a liability than an asset. The injury to Williams will make things even more difficult for this group, meaning they need to rally quickly from this poor performance before doubt starts to set in.
Defense: Momentum killer
Second quarter. 3rd and goal at the Chicago 6-yard line. The Lions line up in a three-receiver set with QB Matthew Stafford in shotgun. RB Maurice Morris is to his right. Two receivers are to the left of the formation, with another wide right. TE Brandon Pettigrew is on the right edge of the line. The Bears counter with a nickel package. Four down linemen are supported by two linebackers, as well as S Brandon Meriweather, who is the eighth man in the box. The corners are playing up tight on the receivers. Julius Peppers is lined up in the defensive tackle spot across from RG Stephen Peterman.
At the snap, Stafford drops back to pass. In the left slot, WR Nate Burleson takes a few steps upfield, then uses a head fake before breaking inside of nickel corner D.J. Moore. The receiver is wide open but Stafford isn't looking his way. Instead, the quarterback is looking toward Pettigrew, who is covered well by Meriweather. At the same time, Peppers explodes into Peterman and drives his way around the offensive linemen's outside shoulder. Peterman just isn't strong enough to keep him out of the backfield. Peppers breaks into the pocket and takes Stafford down for an 11-yard loss. The Lions are forced to kick a field goal.
Julius Peppers lined up at defensive tackle
This play came with less than two minutes left in the first half. The Lions were in the midst of a long, sustained drive that, had they scored a touchdown, would have shrunk Chicago's lead to 10 points and given Detroit momentum heading into the locker room. Instead, the sack allowed them just three points and gave the Bears' offense time to drive down and attempt a field goal of their own – which Robbie Gould subsequently missed. It was a crucial play at a crucial time.
The defensive line on this play consisted of the following four players: LDE Israel Idonije, LDT Julius Peppers, RDT Stephen Paea and RDE Amobi Okoye. In essence, coordinator Rod Marinelli just switched Peppers and Okoye. He did this on a number of plays last night with great results. By bringing Peppers inside, the Lions weren't able to chip on him with running backs and tight ends, and forced Detroit's guards to block him one-on-one. Obviously, for 99 percent of the guards in this league, that's a mismatch. The Lions were not ready for it on this play, resulting in an 11-yard loss.
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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.