The Chicago Bears struggled defensively against the Detroit Lions in Week 6. The Lions rolled up 546 total yards, with Matthew Stafford throwing for 405 yards and 4 TDs.
It's no surprise Chicago's defense is a work in progress. The Bears are in the midst of a rebuild and are lacking talent in some crucial areas, particularly in the secondary.
Yet the front seven made a number of plays in Detroit, proving once again that there's talent up front around which the Bears can build the defense going forward.
I poured through the game film from Sunday's loss to the Lions searching for defensive rays of hope. Here's what I found.
The Lions will run B gap right with RB Zach Zenner. Nose tackle Eddie Goldman (yellow) is lined up directly over center Travis Swanson.
The Lions double team Goldman off the snap but he maintains leverage and works playside down the line.
Goldman sheds the block from Swanson and bursts into the gap, closing on the runner and dropping him after a short gain.
Analysis: This is textbook technique for a nose tackle defending stretch zone runs. Goldman works down the line of scrimmage at the snap, fights off the double team and the reach block, then finishes with a strong burst and explosive tackle. It was an impressive snap from a 331-pound interior defender.
Here Zenner will run off-tackle right. Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins is lined up 5-technique across from right tackle LaAdrian Waddle.
Jenkins makes contact with Waddle and creates separation with good arm extension, all while keeping his eyes in the backfield.
Jenkins sees Zenner cut outside, so he crosses over the face of the blocker and fills the gap. The run goes for a 1-yard gain.
Analysis: Jenkins has been one of the biggest surprises for the Bears. On this play he shows his trademark ability to two-gap and finish at the point of attack. He displays good awareness by tracking the ball carrier and he then disengages and picks up the tackle. Jenkins is a quality veteran defender who is peaking in Chicago.
On this play, Goldman (yellow) lines up shade right on Swanson, while Jenkins (blue) is 3-technique on the right guard. At the snap, Jenkins will swing right, while LB LaRoy Reynolds will blitz the left A gap.
Goldman uses a quick spin move that nearly puts Swanson on his face, while Jenkins swings wide.
The running back tries to cut Jenkins and close off the edge rush. Goldman has now thrown Swanson aside and is unblocked.
Jenkins shows amazing balance, fighting off the cut block and working his way into the pocket. Goldman has Matthew Stafford in his sights.
The two defenders converge on Stafford for the sack.
Analysis: Here we see two "run stoppers" sharing a sack. Goldman shows quickness and agility, using a swim move to blow past the blocker. It was a quality one-on-one pass-rush maneuver. Off the edge, Jenkins absorbs a shot to his knees and still collapses the pocket.
This is a stretch run left. Inside linebacker LaRoy Reynolds (55, yellow) immediately fills the playside B gap.
Reynolds crashes into the right guard, sustains momentum and rips through the block attempt. This elicits a holding penalty.
Reynolds fights off the tackle attempt, keeps his balance and closes on the ball carrier.
Using a late burst, Reynolds finishes the play with a tackle for loss.
Analysis: The Bears rotated Reynolds and Jonathan Anderson at inside linebacker, using Reynolds on run downs, where his downhill playing style has a lot of value. On this snap, he reads the stretch run and reacts immediately with a strong run fit. His explosive fill forces the right guard to hold him, yet Reynolds fights through the hold and still corrals the ball carrier. This an aggressive play by a physical, powerful linebacker.
On our final snap, we see Stafford accelerating out of the pocket. Notice Goldman, who is tracking Stafford toward the sideline.
Goldman gets into a full sprint and runs stride for stride with Detroit's quarterback. Notice Goldman running down the 19-yard line.
Goldman meets Stafford at the 19-yard line, not giving up a single yard on the 30-yard sprint.
Analysis: Rarely do you find a 331-pound nose tackle who can keep pace with a quarterback who has, admittedly, average athleticism. Goldman is an athletic freak, one whose ceiling is sky high. This type of athleticism is why the Bears used a second-round pick on him. He's been impressive out of the gate and continues to get better. Along with Pernell McPhee, Goldman is the future of Chicago's defense.