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Chicago Bears All-22 Lab: ILB Jerrell Freeman

What to do the Bears have in new inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman? I broke down All-22 game film to find out.

The Chicago Bears last week landed the top two free agent inside linebackers on the open market: Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman. 

I've already broken down film of Danny Trevathan, now it's Freeman's turn. 

Let's find out what the All-22 tape reveals of Chicago's newest ILB. 

Play I

On this play, the Titans will run B gap left with RB David Cobb, right at Freeman (red). 

Instead of waiting for the ball carrier, Freeman attacks the play, working up-field three yards before engaging the left guard. 

Notice Freeman's arm extension at contact, from which he's able to create and keep separation from the blocker. At the same time, his eyes are tracking Cobb. 

Freeman cuts back toward the play, disengages from the guard and makes the tackle. 

Analysis: Here we see Freeman read the play and attack the line of scrimmage, something we haven't seen from a Bears inside linebacker in years. He also shows very good technique to fight off the block, using his upper body power to drive the blocker away from him before the shed. As we'll see throughout this article, Freeman's consistency in tackling is one of the strongest areas of his game. 

Play II

This is a stretch play to the strong side. Freeman will track the play from the back side. 

The weak side guard attempts to cut Freeman off, yet he dips his shoulder and avoids the frontal contact, allowing him to continue his pursuit of the ball carrier. 

Due to his combination of play speed and technique, Freeman is able to slip through the block attempt and now has a clear path to the running back. 

Freeman takes down Cobb after a two-yard gain. Notice Tennessee's guard, who is laying flat on his face. 

Analysis: Here again, Freeman attacks the play off the snap. He reads the stretch run to the opposite part of the field and immediately sprints to the corner. His quick reaction doesn't allow the guard to get in front of him, while his shoulder dip erases any chance of Freeman being blocked out of the play. 

Play III

On this snap, Freeman will blitz around the right edge. 

Tennessee's running back flares out to cut off Freeman as he turns the corner. 

Freeman powers right through the block attempt, leaving both the running back and the left tackle in his wake. 

Freeman tracks down the quarterback for the sack. 

Analysis: Freeman is an accomplished, effective blitzer who has 12 sacks during his four-year NFL career. Most of his sacks are due to proper timing and angles of pursuit, as well as his ability to disruptively blast through contact. Here we see examples of each. He gets up-field quickly and shrugs off the block attempt before quickly closing on Zach Mettenberger. 

Play IV

Here is a goal-line play against the Dolphins. Freeman is lined up on the line scrimmage in the left C gap. The play will be run to the opposite side of the field. 

Here is the contact point. The key here is Freeman's subtle push toward play side, which doesn't allow Miami's tight end to cross his face and seal him away from the play. 

Freeman separates from the block attempt and works his way down the line of scrimmage. At this point, it appears there's no chance he'll be able to stop the ball carrier from reaching the end zone. 

Freeman works his way through the wash, dives over a teammate and explodes into the running back, stopping him a yard short of the end zone. 

Analysis: Freeman's vision and awareness on this play are outstanding. Not only is he able to beat the backside block, but he then maneuvers through the mess of bodies and finds the ball carrier. He even gets enough power behind him to help stop Jay Ajayi in his tracks. 

Play V

On this snap, Freeman is tasked with mirroring Miami RB Lamar Miller in man coverage. Miller will clear to the right flat after a play fake. 

Here we see Miller breaking to the right flat. Freeman is running stride for stride. 

Freeman absolutely annihilates Miller after the catch. The back of Miller's head is the first thing to hit the ground. The play goes for a 1-yard gain. 

Absolutely: This play is an example of Freeman's explosiveness as a tackler. He stays within a few yards of Miller throughout his route and then closes in a heartbeat, before delivering a shocking blow to his chest. There is no YAC on this snap. 

Play VI

The Dolphins offset four players to the right of the center, yet the play will be run to the weak side. 

Freeman bursts toward the corner, outrunning the block attempt of the offensive tackle. 

The ball carrier is slowed up by the defensive end and has to bounce the play outside, yet he can't make any upfield progress, as Freeman is there to track him down. The play goes for a 5-yard loss. 

Analysis: This is just another example of how quickly Freeman reacts to plays, which never allows the blocker to seal him inside. He then shows good burst and solid tackling to bring the running back down for a loss. 

Play VII

This is a bubble screen to the wide receiver. At this frame, the wideout has just caught the ball. Freeman is in front of the play but has two blockers barreling in on him. 

Miami's offensive lineman tries to cut out the legs of Freeman, who deftly jumps out of the way, all while keeping his eyes on the ball. 

Freeman quickly regains his balance, leaving the blocker laying flat on his face behind him, and forces the receiver to cut inside. 

Freeman closes in a heartbeat and tackles the wideout after a minimal gain. 

Analysis: This might be the most impressive snap of this entire film series. Freeman steps around a block attempt, fills the running lane, tracks down the receiver and makes the tackle. This play shows his agility, quickness and awareness.


On this snap, the Falcons will run A gap left, right at Freeman. 

At the handoff, Freeman pushes forward. This will force the right guard to lock him up at the line of scrimmage, instead of at the second level. 

At contact, Freeman drives right into the blocker's chest and extends his arms, putting the right guard on his heels. 

Freeman sheds the block and makes the tackle for no gain. 

Analysis: Here again we see Freeman come downhill once he reads the run. This gives him the momentum, instead of the blocker. Once contact is made, Freeman uses his upper-body strength to strike the right guard in the chest, which immediately creates the separation he needs to disengage and bring down the ball carrier. 

Play IX

Our final snap is a sweep right, in Freeman's direction. 

The right tackle stretches and attempts to beat Freeman to the corner. Yet Freeman is just a hair too quick and gets his head out in front of the block attempt. 

Freeman dips his shoulder and carries the offensive tackle on his back. 

Freeman piggybacks the blocker and makes the tackle after a short gain. 

Analysis: This snap demonstrates Freeman's combination of quickness and power. He's quick enough to beat the block attempt and powerful enough to carry a blocker as he makes the tackle. For a linebacker trying to cut off a stretch run, it doesn't get much better than this. 


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