For the second week in a row, the Chicago Bears defense put forth a respectable effort. The unit has been absolutely hammered by injuries, and yesterday lost Charles Tillman for the season. Yet the past two weeks they've allowed just 20 and 21 points respectively to two of the most potent offenses in the league. Despite the tough loss this past Sunday to the Detroit Lions, the play of the defense should not be overlooked, especially when you consider how many backups have been forced into regular duty.
Yet there are still many things that must be cleaned up if Chicago is going to make the playoffs. Most importantly, the Bears must figure out how to stop the run. Over the last three games combined, opponents have rushed for 552 yards, including 145 by the Lions. Reggie Bush's 105 rushing yards made him the second runner in as many weeks to top the century mark, following Eddie Lacy's 150 yards on the ground in Week 9.
Let's go to the film room to analyze how the Bears can get better on defense going forward.
Both Bostic and Anderson fill the correct hole and create a pile of bodies at the point of attack. Notice DT Stephen Paea on the play's weak side shedding his blocker.
For some reason, Bostic and Anderson immediately shift to their right and run away from the play, leaving a huge gap for Bush on the play side.
Paea works his way down the line of scrimmage and – with the help of CB Isaiah Frey, who does a nice job setting the edge – takes Bush down after a couple of yards. Notice how far away both Bostic and Anderson are from the ball carrier.
We highlight Bostic (blue) on this play. The Lions are going to fake a handoff at the snap before swinging Bush out into the right flat for a screen pass.
The play fake forces Bostic to step up into the hole. Once he realizes it's a pass, he becomes completely disoriented, taking false steps in every direction and nearly spinning around in a circle. Behind him, Frey is chasing WR Calvin Johnson (yellow) on a drag pattern across the field.
Bostic turns his back to the line of scrimmage and follows Johnson, the first guy he sees, to the back side of the play. Notice the three Detroit offensive linemen breaking out to the second level with nothing but green grass in front of them. Also note where Anderson (red) is as the pass is released.
QB Matthew Stafford throws a poor pass that Bush drops, so the play goes for no gain. Had the ball been caught, it would have been an easy touchdown, as Bush had half his team out in front ready to bury S Chris Conte, the only man left to make a play. You can't see Bostic on this shot, because he's on the other side of the far hash mark, wondering where the ball went.
We highlight Bostic (blue) and Paea (yellow) on a Lions up-the-middle run by Bush.
Bush starts the play right and Bostic gets caught up behind two blockers. Paea is also initially turned away from the cutback lane.
As Bush cuts back, Bostic immediately swings around the traffic. At the same time, Paea grabs his blocker and begins shucking him away from the ball carrier.
Bostic leverages the play inside as Paea dumps the offensive lineman, leaving Bush with nowhere to go.
We highlight Paea (yellow) lined up in the right A gap on a Detroit off-tackle right run.
Paea immediately sidesteps the double team, which causes the center to fall to his knees. This forces the right tackle to chip Paea, instead moving to the second level.
Paea brushes off the chip, dumps the guard and makes the tackle in the backfield.
We highlight Bostic (blue) and fellow rookie linebacker Khaseem Greene (red) on an up-the-middle run by RB Joique Bell.
The Lions pull the backside guard and trap Bostic, effectively taking him out of the play. Yet Greene is left unblocked and is in perfect position as Bell receives the handoff.
Bell gets the ball but as you can see, Greene is already shifting his weight in the opposite direction. He's watching the tight end clear behind the play for a weak-side block on DE Corey Wootton, instead of keeping his eye on the ball carrier.
As Bell reaches the line of scrimmage, notice where Greene has positioned himself, a good six yards away from the point of attack.
We again highlight Greene (red) who is in man coverage against Lions TE Christian Fauria (white), who will run deep post-cross.
At this point, Greene has recognized the pass and squares up for man coverage on Fauria.
Yet almost immediately, Fauria is able to waltz right by the defender before clearing across the field, leaving Greene in his wake.
Notice here the separation Fauria has gained from Greene on a crucial 26-yard reception in the fourth quarter.
Bostic and Greene are rookies, so mistakes are to be expected, but after watching the film, these two have to get things quickly corrected. Greene looked lost on the field, unsure of his responsibilities and hesitant to make plays. And in coverage, he was borderline worthless.
Bostic made a few plays in this game but his mental mistakes have killed the club the past three weeks. In the third play we highlighted, he showed his athletic ability, skirting two blocks and coming downhill on the runner. But for the most part, this game was a big ball of mistakes for Bostic. His awareness is lacking, as is his play recognition. He has potential but Chicago's coaching staff has to get the kid more prepared going forward.
Paea was just a beast in this game and consistently held his ground against the run. If it hadn't been for his outstanding performance, the Lions would have piled up even more rushing yards. Now fully healthy, Paea is consistently using strength and leverage to his advantage, routinely beating 1-on-1 blocks and powering his way through double teams. If he keeps up at this pace, the Bears will have a shot at stopping opposing rushing attacks in the second half of the season.
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.