Tales from the Tape: Eben Britton

To demonstrate how valuable he's been for Chicago's offense this season, we break down film of Bears all-purpose offensive lineman Eben Britton.

Eben Britton is a former second-round draft pick who spent his first four seasons in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Injuries and inconsistent play hampered him while with the Jaguars, who chose not to re-sign Britton after his rookie contract was up.

Britton then signed a contract with the Chicago Bears this offseason in an effort to resurrect his career. While he didn't earn a starting gig in training camp, he did work his way onto the 53-man roster. Through the first three weeks of the 2013 campaign, Britton rode the pine, yet in Week 4 his role on the team changed.

Against the Detroit Lions, Britton played 11 snaps as the third tackle up front and has been an integral part of the offense ever since.

"Part of it was we were trying to take a little bit of the load off – they have great pass rushers outside – take a little bit of the load off of Martellus [Bennett's] shoulder and move him outside yesterday and I thought Eben did a more than sufficient job in taking care of the outside lanes," coach Marc Trestman said following the Lions game. "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. And you see teams do it all along. They move a tackle into that position. Teams do that throughout the league."

Over the last 10 games, Britton has averaged more than 15 snaps per contest. He's been used as a third tackle/tight end/fullback, lining up on the edge of the line and at H-back.

"In my history and our history of football we've used an offensive lineman at tight end 10 to 16 times a game," said coordinator Aaron Kromer. "It's really helped in both protection schemes and in the run game." After playing guard and tackle exclusively in Jacksonville, Britton said his new role has given him renewed vigor for the game.

"I love it," Britton told Bear Report this week. "I love it that the coaches have seen enough, seen something in me to give me the opportunity to get out there with the guys and help this team. I love coming to work every day. I love playing football. I've had a rough last few years with injuries. Coming here was like trying to get a fresh start. I came in here with the utmost humility and gratitude that this is a new opportunity for me to play football again. I decided way back in April that I'm just going to come in and work as hard as I can every day and see where that lands me. After training camp, I showed enough to the coaches and the people in the building that make the big decisions that I'm a guy that deserves to be here.

"I don't mind being the sixth guy, swing tackle. I love watching the young guys work and I love being able to help them out anyway I can. It's been an awesome experience for me. It's like a cherry on top that I get to go in and play monster tight end and flip sides and do a lot of different things. It's a lot of fun. It's the most fun I've had playing football my entire life."

Let's got to the film room to show how Britton fits in Chicago's offense and how effective he's been as the club's third tackle.

PLAY I

This is Britton's first snap of the season. He's lined up on the left edge outside of LT Jermon Bushrod.

Britton mans up against the defensive end and keeps him out of the backfield, allowing Jay Cutler to get rid of the ball.

Britton is crucial here in max protection. His presence assures the Lions won't get to Cutler and it also forces Detroit to put seven players in the box. If everything goes as planned, the Bears could get single coverage with Brandon Marshall at the top of the play.

Sure enough, the safety cuts under the pattern, leaving Marshall 1-on-1 deep against the corner. Marshall makes the catch but can't get both feet in bounds. Still, in just one play, Britton's presence affected the defense and helped give the Bears the matchup they were looking for down the field.

PLAY II

Week 5 against the New Orleans Saints. Britton is on the left edge. The play will be a pitch to Matt Forte around the left side.

The play gets stuffed but not because of Britton, who deftly steps outside of the defender and drives him out of the play.

PLAY III

Britton lines up on the right edge and will be 1-on-1 with Saints DE Cameron Jordan.

Jordan rushes outside and then cuts inside, which initially beats Britton. Jordan has leverage at this point and a path to the quarterback.

Britton stays with the block and drives Jordan through the pocket to the other side of the play, opening up a wide area on the right side into which Cutler rolls, allowing him to get the pass off.

PLAY IV

Last week against the Dallas Cowboys, Britton lines up on the right side across from LB Martez Wilson, who will rush from the DE spot.

Britton easily stonewalls Wilson, which allows Bushrod and LG Matt Slauson to double team Jason Hatcher, the Cowboys' most dangerous pass rusher this season.

PLAY V

In our final snap, Britton will square off against DeMarcus Ware, one of the most productive edge rushers of the past decade.

Britton rides Ware past the quarterback, forcing the defender to stop and cut back up the field. Britton has Ware so fully under control that Bushrod has no one to block.

Britton's block helps create a huge lane for Josh McCown to step into. He does just that and launches a ball to the back corner of the end zone, which Alshon Jeffery pulls in for an amazing touchdown grab.

ANALYSIS

Britton doesn't get the credit he deserves but he's an integral part of Chicago's offense. His presence on either edge provides added stability in both the run and pass games. He can handle edge rushers on his own, can maul at the point of attack and has the quickness to clear defenders at the second level.

And if the Bears ever get tired of watching defensive ends fly past right tackle Jordan Mills, Britton could add an element of power and nastiness to the offensive line. But until then, he'll continue to be a key cog for the Bears up front.


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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