The Chicago Bears need to find a way to pick themselves up and climb out of their current 3-4 hole. Sunday’s loss was full of mistakes, problems the team must correct before this week’s contest against the New England Patriots. Otherwise, the season could quickly get out of reach.
Yet in order to make improvements, it’s necessary to figure out what went wrong. You can’t fix something unless you know where the problem lies.
With that in mind, let’s go to the film room and use All-22 coach’s tape to dissect and analyze the mistakes the Bears made in Week 7.
Deep Ball on 3rd and Short
On the Bears’ first offensive possession, they faced a 3rd and 1 at their own 46-yard line. On this play, the Dolphins show a single safety over the top, with man coverage wide right on WR Alshon Jeffery (blue), who will run a fly pattern.
This play will go to Jeffery deep, yet look at how wide open Bennett is as QB Jay Cutler releases the ball.
Despite the fact Bennett could have easily picked up the first down and kept the drive alive, Cutler goes for the big gain. This is due in large part to the position of the safety, who is on the far side of the field from Jeffery, who at this point is running past the cornerback. This is a one-on-one matchup with a big Pro Bowl wide receiver and no safety help over the top, which is the type of situation the Bears have attempted to exploit the past year and a half, typically with positive results.
As we can see, Jeffery has a full yard on the cornerback, yet the ball is overthrown and falls incomplete.
Analysis: You can question Cutler’s decision to go deep on this play, or even Marc Trestman allowing Cutler to sling it 40 yards on a 3rd and 1, yet in reality, a good throw would have turned this play into a touchdown. Passing up an open Bennett in the middle of the field seems ridiculous in hindsight, yet Cutler had an ideal scenario out wide and took the shot downfield.
The problem here wasn’t the decision-making, it was the execution. The safety never got over the top and the corner was beat. A good pass and the Bears go up 7-0 to start the game. Yet Cutler couldn’t connect on the pass, which began the downhill spiral.
This is a 3rd-and-5 play late in the second quarter, when the Bears needed to find a way to score some points and head into halftime with momentum. WR Brandon Marshall (blue) and Jeffery (yellow) are lined up to the right side. Marshall will run a fake hitch before breaking to the sideline. Jeffery will run a 10-yard crossing route.
At this point in the play, Jeffery is open. He’s already created separation from the cornerback. Inside, Marshall is using a head fake to give the illusion he’s going to turn back to Cutler. The safety (red) is frozen in the middle of the field.
Cutler is releasing the pass down the field to Marshall, who has clearly beaten the nickelback and has nothing but green space between him and the sideline. Yet underneath, notice Jeffery is all by himself, as his defender fell down. A quick strike to Jeffery, with his ability to run after the catch, probably moves the ball into Dolphins territory, yet Cutler takes the deep shot.
The problem with taking the deep shot is Cutler didn’t have room to step into his throw. It was a slow-developing play and the offensive line gave up pressure off the left side. This forces Cutler to sling the ball off his back foot.
As you can see, the pass falls far short and is nearly intercepted, forcing the Bears to punt.
Analysis: This was a well-drawn-up play, one in which both Marshall and Jeffery were open for big yards. Yet Cutler couldn’t find either receiver and nearly turned the ball over. These are the types of mistakes no immensely talented nine-year veteran should be making at this point in his career.
Zone-Read (Round I)
This is the first play of Miami’s second drive. It will be a zone-read play with QB Ryan Tannehill faking a handoff to RB Lamar Miller before swinging the play outside. Pay attention to TE Charles Clay, who is lined up H-back left.
The fake handoff inside brings DE Willie Young, LB Khaseem Greene and LB Darryl Sharpton with it. All three players crash inside, while Clay is sliding behind the play to serve as Tannehill’s lead blocker.
Young and Sharpton are now out of the play and Clay locks up S Ryan Mundy.
Mundy can’t get off his block and Tannehill turns the corner for a 14-yard gain.
Zone-Read (Round II)
With Miami up 14-7, this was the crucial 4th-and-1 play in the third quarter. It will be the same exact play as the one we just analyzed from the first quarter. This time, it will be linebackers Shea McClellin and D.J. Williams who fail to get the job done.
Notice the play fake to Miller brings seven players into the middle of the field. This leaves just McClellin out wide. Again, Clay is sweeping around the corner to be the lead blocker.
Williams has so thoroughly misread the play that he gets clipped by the right tackle, who is dragging DE Lamarr Houston inside. McClellin puts himself in a position to make the tackle, if he can beat the lead block.
McClellin cannot get off his block and Tannehill has a huge lane. He picks up 30 yards on the run. Two plays later, the Dolphins scored a touchdown.
Analysis: The Bears couldn’t say they’d never seen this play before, as Miami ran it just two quarters earlier. Yet the defense, this time with different linebackers and a different play-side defensive end, made the exact same mistakes. Even still, McClellin had a shot at the quarterback, yet could not make the play.
Zone? Man? Who Knows?
This is Miami’s first touchdown play. Clay is lined up on the left edge and will run a post corner to the near pylon. Notice Williams and McClellin are showing blitz, although both will drop into coverage.
Wallace runs a deep cross, taking Fuller with him. At the same time, Clay clears into the zone vacated by Fuller. S Brock Vereen is in the middle of the field and in no position to cover either sideline.
With Fuller chasing Wallace inside, and both linebackers up on the line of scrimmage to start the play, there isn’t anyone left to cover the left corner of the end zone. Even if McClellin hadn’t fallen on his face, this still would have been a touchdown.
Analysis: It’s tough to say whether Fuller was at fault here, as he did shadow Wallace on a number of plays during the game. Either he blew the coverage here or defensive coordinator Mel Tucker dialed up a play that had little chance of success. There was no way either linebacker lined up on the line of scrimmage would have been able to drop into the far deep zone. And with Vereen planted in the middle of the field, it’s obvious that wasn’t his zone either. The Bears served this touchdown up on a platter.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.