BEARS ON DEFENSE
Chargers have 3rd-and-10 on their own 23-yard line. The offense breaks the huddle with four wide receivers, two on each side of the line. QB Philip Rivers stands in the shotgun with RB LaDainian Tomlinson to his left. After his initial set, the slot receiver on the left motions to the backfield, positioning himself just to Rivers' right. Bears CB Ricky Manning Jr. began the play covering that slot receiver, but after the receiver motioned to the backfield, Manning ran all the way to the other side of the field to cover the opposite slot position. To his inside, both Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher are up on the line of scrimmage showing blitz. Just before the snap of the play, the two LBs drop off the line and into coverage.
At the snap, the Bears rush just four down linemen. San Diego's offensive line can't handle the rush though, seemingly discombobulated by Briggs and Urlacher's fake blitz. The rest of the defense drops into their base Cover-2 defense. DE Mark Anderson rushes outside initially, then uses an inside juke move to freeze the offensive tackle. Anderson then swings back outside, using a swim move to clear the lineman. On the other side of the line, DT Darwin Walker and DE Alex Brown run a crossing stunt. Brown rushes inside as Walker uses a spin move to rush outside and clear the lineman. Anderson has already flushed Rivers out of the pocket and into Walker's waiting arms. Walker goes high and Anderson goes low, giving both men a half sack. It's a 14-yard loss, and the Chargers are forced to punt.
What I found interesting on this play was Manning's switch from the right slot to the left slot. When his initial receiver motioned into the backfield, Manning crossed the field and covered the other slot. This allows the safeties to drop back into their normal starting positions. Also, Briggs and Urlacher showing blitz before the snap really confused San Diego's offensive line. They were so worried about the blitz that they basically forgot to account for the four linemen across from them. This allowed Anderson, Brown, and Walker the opportunity to get pressure on the quarterback and, ultimately, the sack.
Both Walker and Anderson are pass-rush specialists, so look for the two of them this season to have plenty of plays like this one.
Mark Anderson and Darwin Walker (Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
BEARS ON OFFENSE
3rd-and-15 on the Bears own 40-yard line. Early in the third quarter, Chicago lines up in shotgun formation. QB Rex Grossman has RB Adrian Peterson to his immediate left, with WR Bernard Berrian split wide on the same side. Trip wide receivers are spread to the right, with WR Muhsin Muhammad split wide, WR Rashied Davis in the slot, and TE Desmond Clark on the wing. San Diego plays its corners off the wide receivers, except for Davis in the slot – his man, the nickelback, shows press coverage initially. LB Shawne Merriman shows blitz through the middle of the line.
At the snap, Merriman and the nickelback blitz, giving the Chargers a six-man rush. Clark stays in to block and picks up the blitzing DB. The middle of the offensive line does a solid job of holding off Merriman and the four other rushers, leaving Grossman plenty of time to throw. Grossman immediately scans the left side of the field, where he has Berrian isolated against the cornerback. Berrian runs the CB off the line 20 yards before quickly curling into a soft spot in the defense. Grossman finds him there and fires a bullet into his breadbasket. Berrian is instantly surrounded by four Chargers defenders who finish the play. It's a 21-yard gain and a first down in San Diego territory.
The offensive line, with a little help from Clark, does a great job of picking up the hefty Chargers blitz. Through the inside and off the edges, San Diego brought a forceful rush. Yet all seven blockers, including Peterson, were on the same page and able to give Grossman time to throw.
Grossman does a great job of exploiting Berrian's isolation on the cornerback. He waits for Bernard to run off the corner and throws the ball before his receiver makes his break. Not only that, but he throws the ball so hard that he's able to fit the pass into an area surrounded by four San Diego defenders. Great secondary recognition by both passer and receiver.
Jeremy Stoltz is an Associate Editor for Chicago Sports Weekly. He is a regular contributor to Bear Report and BearReport.com.
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