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Chicago Bears All-22 Lab: ILB Jerrell Freeman (Part II)

Part II of our All-22 film analysis of Chicago Bears inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman focuses on his prowess in coverage, as well as his physicality against the run.

CLICK HERE to view Part I of our Chicago Bears All-22 Lab: ILB Jerrell Freeman

Play V

On this snap, Freeman is in man-to-man coverage with Colts TE Jack Doyle, who releases out of the backfield toward the right flat. 

Doyle makes the catch on a flat route at the 21-yard line. Freeman is closing on the ball.

 

Freeman takes Doyle down immediately after the catch. Once again, there is no YAC with Freeman in coverage. 

Play VI

On this snap, Freeman (blue) is covering Colts RB Frank Gore (yellow) man-to-man. Gore clears through the middle of the line of scrimmage and will break toward the far hash. 

Gore makes his break as QB Andrew Luck fires the pass. Notice Freeman has already begun to close on the receiver even before the ball has left Luck's hand. This a common theme from Freeman, who is never caught off guard in coverage and rarely allows a pass catcher to create needed separation. 

Gore makes the catch and tries to cut back across the grain toward the middle of the field. Freeman plants his outside foot in order to block off the cutback lane.

 

Gore has nowhere to go and Freeman swallows him up. Once again, no YAC. 

Play VII

On this snap, Doyle will run an underneath button hook on the right seam, in front of Freeman.

Doyle makes the catch at the 31-yard line, with Freeman closing behind him. 

Freeman takes Doyle down at the 31-yard line. No YAC, Colts punt. 

Analysis

Against the Vikings in Week 8, Freeman was targeted five times in coverage. He gave up four catches but only 28 total yards, which neatly encapsulates Freeman's value on passing downs. 

He's not going to make highlight-reel pass breakups but Freeman's awareness in coverage always puts him in the right position to make the tackle after the catch, eliminating any chance at YAC. His intelligence, read-and-react ability and closing speed, combined with his elite open-field tackling, is what makes Freeman so special in coverage. 

Since Urlacher's departure, the Bears have had faster, more athletic inside linebackers than Freeman, yet none displayed his consistency in both man-to-man and zone sets. He sees the entire field and reads the quarterback's eyes, allowing him to quickly jumps on plays in front of him. 

On top of that, Freeman has been a beast against the run, as we're about to find out: 

Bonus Play I

The Lions run an A-gap trap play out of shotgun formation to RB Zach Zenner (yellow). RT Riley Reiff (white) is tasked with blocking Freeman (blue). 

Reiff locks up Freeman as Zenner reaches the line of scrimmage. At this point Reiff has inside position, yet Freeman has leverage and is driving his hands under the blocker's shoulder pads. 

DL Mitch Unrein does a good job of plugging the run lane and forcing Zenner to cut inside. Freeman has driven Reiff three yards to the hash and extends his right arm to easily shed the block. Notice his lower body, which is coiling and preparing to shift directions. 

Freeman explodes into Zenner, driving him into DL Akiem Hicks and creating a hard hit for the ball carrier. The play goes for a 1-yard gain. 

Bonus Play II

This is an inside run by Vikings RB Matt Asiata. Freeman (blue) is lined up behind Hicks (red), who is double teamed at the snap. 

Reiff peels off the double team and picks up Freeman, who comes downhill and fills the gap at the line of scrimmage. Notice Hicks, who gains leverage and stands up the interior blocker, forcing Asiata to bounce outside. 

Freeman rips right past the block of Reiff and takes down the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage. 

Bonus Play III

On this snap, Gore (yellow) will run B-gap right. Colts TE Dwayne Allen (white) is tasked with blocking Freeman (blue) who is already beginning to crash the gap. 

Freeman picks up a head of steam and explodes into the middle gap. Notice that he's making contact at the line of scrimmage, five yards ahead of his original starting point. Freeman does not wait for plays to come to him, like a few of his predecessor were wont to do. 

Freeman bounces right off the block attempt by Allen, who falls flat on his face. Freeman is now in position to make the tackle. 

 Freeman closes on Gore and takes him down at the line of scrimmage. Notice Allen, on all fours trying to get the license plate of the truck that just ran him over. 


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