Tales from the Tape: Run Game

The Chicago Bears offensive coaching staff is experimenting with different personnel groupings in the run game, with fairly good results. We use coaches tape to diagram the new plays.

Coming into Sunday's matchup against the Detroit Lions, the Chicago Bears' offense ranked 17th in the league in rushing. The offensive coaching staff obviously felt changes were needed in both scheme and personnel. To that end, Marc Trestman and company unveiled some unique formations in the Week 4 loss.

Let's go to the game film room to analyze the creativity in the run game.

PLAY I

The Bears line up in I-formation with two running backs in the backfield. Michael Bush is positioned at fullback in front of Matt Forte. The play will start with a fake to Bush up the left A gap, which sucks in three interior defenders.

The play-fake pulls in both linebackers and the play-side defensive end. The false steps by the linebackers give RT Jordan Mills and C Roberto Garza the time they need to get to the second level and seal the LBs. At the same time, Forte begins his sprint outside.

Jay Cutler pitches the ball to Forte running wide right. Mills is able to seal both the outside linebacker and the defensive end, both of whom bit on the fake to Bush. Garza also gets a solid block on the middle linebacker, giving Forte the room he needs to turn the corner.

After clearing the front seven, Forte has nothing but secondary ahead of him. Brandon Marshall dives at the legs of the corner, taking him out of the play. At the same time, Alshon Jeffery drives his cornerback all the way into the safety, which eliminates both defenders. Forte then has a clear path for a 53-yard touchdown run.

By placing Bush and Forte in the backfield, Detroit's defense had to account for the middle dive. This forced the defense to pinch in, which set up perfectly the outside pitch. It was a great play design that was executed perfectly.

PLAY II

Martellus Bennett hurt his shoulder in the Week 3 contest against the Minnesota Vikings and was slow to get off the field early in the Detroit game. Due to his ailing shoulder, the Bears chose to use swing tackle Eben Britton as a sixth lineman for 11 plays against the Lions.

"Part of it was we were trying to take a little bit of the load off of Martellus' shoulder and move him outside yesterday. I thought Eben did a more than sufficient job in taking care of the outside lanes," Trestman said yesterday. "So that's part of the reason why we did it, and we added to the running game, so we've mixed it in there."

On this snap, we have Britton lined up wing left outside of T Jermon Bushrod. The play will be an off-tackle left run with man blocking.

Britton gets a great block on the defensive end, which allows Bushrod to crack down on the defensive tackle, as well as giving Slauson the time to find the linebacker at the second level. Jeffery also does his job, manning up on the safety, which gives Forte a wide lane through which to run.

With Britton on this play, the Bears stacked the left side and ran it down Detroit's throat. It was power football ("We're running it here; try and stop us.") that resulted in a nine-yard gain.

PLAY III

Later in the game, the Bears again place Britton outside of Bushrod, creating an unbalanced left line, only this time they run away from Britton. They execute the same play they did on the earlier touchdown, faking a handoff to FB Tony Fiammetta up the middle before pitching it wide to Forte. PHO

TO

The play isn't as successful, as no one on Detroit's defense was worried about Fiammetta carrying the ball, but Forte makes a defender miss and gets positive yardage.

Using an extra tackle isn't groundbreaking strategy but it does show the willingness of Chicago's coaching staff to consider every option when faced with adversity. Bennett struggled last week as a blocker due to his shoulder so the prudent move was to bring in Britton, whose presence up front gave the offense a boost early in the third quarter.

"You see teams do it all along [the NFL]," Trestman said. "Watch Atlanta; they did it last night. They move a tackle into that position. Teams do that throughout the league."


Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.

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