In Week 2, the Chicago Bears defense allowed 34 points to the Arizona Cardinals - who scored 14 points on defense and special teams as well. This follows a Week 1 contest in which Chicago's defense gave up 31 points to the Packers.
Blame for two weeks of putrid defensive performances should be distributed evenly, as no one has performed at a high level, inlcuding defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
Yet it seems a lot of the vitriol is extended in Shea McClellin's direction. We're fully aware of his struggles as a defensive end and 4-3 strong-side linebacker, but is he also failing at his third different position in four NFL seasons? I broke down All-22 coaches film of the Week 2 contest to find out.
Our first play is a B gap run out of shotgun formation to RB Kerwynn Williams (purple). McClellin (red) is lined up across from TE Darren Fells.
Fells clears to the second level and attempts to block McClellin, who immediately gains inside leverage and creates separation.
McClellin's inside position forces Williams to bounce outside, where CB Sherrick McManis (blue) is waiting.
McManis takes out the runner's legs, while McClellin crosses over the face of Fells and finishes the tackle.
Analysis: McClellin has always struggled to fight off blocks and there were many plays in the first two games where he could not separate from the blocker. Yet there were plenty of plays like this one where he was able to disengage at the point of attack. That's progress.
Here McClellin is lined up across from C Lyle Sendlein. RB Chris Johnson will run B gap right, directly at McClellin.
Sendlein attemtps a second-level block on McClellin, who uses a wide base and arm extension, while keeping his eyes in the backfield.
McClellin quickly side-steps the block and into the gap. Notice the run fill of S Adrian Amos, who forces the runner inside.
McClellin and Amos take Johnson down after a short gain.
Analysis: Here again we see McClellin set up and disengage from a block, this time using his quickness. We didn't see lot of these plays last year.
The Cardinals line up with four receivers and the Bears counter with man coverage across the board. McClellin (red) is positioned across from TE Darren Fells (yellow) lined up wing right.
As Carson Palmer hits his plant foot, notice all four white arrows indicating man coverage. This includes Christian Jones, who is shadowing the running back out of the backfield. Presumably, McClellin is also in man coverage on Fells. Notice that neither safety (blue) is covering the intermediate zone directly behind McClellin.
Yet at 10 yards, McClellin drops off and lets Fells run free down the right seam.
The end-zone shot show Fells sitting between the hashes, behind McClellin and short of the safeties, for the first-down reception.
Analysis: We don't know for sure what McClellin's assignment was on this play but when everyone else is obviously in man coverage and you don't have a safety bracket over the top, it's safe to assume that McClellin should have continued running with Fells. Instead, he cuts short his coverage and leaves Arizona's tight end wide open.
The Cardinals line up trips left. The Bears position three cornerbacks across from the bunch formation. McClellin (red) is initially lined up off the left edge of the offensive line. Jones (blue) is five yards off the line of scrimmage.
Before the snap, both McClelline and Jones rush the line of scrimmage and show blitz.
The blitz is very effective and Jones bursts through the line of scrimmage. Yet notice McClellin, who does not rush the quarterback and instead just floats near the line of scrimmage. Palmer's eyes (purple) are looking directly to the area McClellin vacated before the snap. Larry Fitzgerald is running a slant, as is Jaron Brown (off camera) in the trail role.
McClellin is unable to drop into the passing lane and Brown makes the first-down reception.
Analysis: This was a well-designed blitz that succeeded in collapsing the pocket. Yet by rushing McClellin to the line of scrimmage, it left a wide open area in the short zone up the left seam, right where threee defenders were lined up. I guess the Bears weren't expecting any of those wideouts to run a slant or crossing route.
This is Brown's touchdown reception (purple) near the goal-line. McClellin is lined up five yards across from the right tackle. There is no linebacker in the middle of the field.
At the snap, McClellin comes on a delayed blitz up the right C gap. He does not come with a full head of steam, instead taking his time to pick a rush lane.
McClellin's slow, delayed blitz comes nowhere close to finishing and he's still eight yards from the quarterback when the pass is thrown. Notice the huge area of wide open turf in the middle of the end zone. McClellin's stroll to the line of scrimmage leaves a gaping hole in the defense that even a high-school quarterback could exploit.
Analysis: What in the world is McClellin doing on this goal-line snap? If you're going to blitz, bring it. Half-hearted walks in the park aren't going to accomplish anything, other than leaving a crater-sized swath of grass unattended in the middle of the field. If this is how defensive coordinator Vic Fangio put this one up on the chalkboard - and the same goes for the last play - then he deserves heat for some very poor defensive designs at crucial points in the game.