X-and-O Show: Bears vs. Lions

Jeremy Stoltz, our very own Prince of the Playbook, goes to the film room once again and breaks down one offensive snap and one defensive snap from Sunday's crippling 37-27 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

2nd-and-11 on the Bears' 15-yard line. The Lions line up in a four-receiver set, with WR Troy Walters wide right and WR Mike Furrey in the slot. QB Jon Kitna starts the play under center with RB Kevin Jones behind him. Chicago counters with its base Cover 2. Rookie CB Trumaine McBride is positioned five yards across from Walter. No one is lined up in front of Furrey, basically revealing the zone coverage.

WRs Mike Furrey and Troy Walters
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

At the snap of the ball, Kitna drops back five steps and Jones stays in to block. The Bears' front four gets good initial pressure, and within two seconds the offensive linemen are pushed back into the QB's face. Yet the pressure goes for naught, as Kitna releases the ball quickly downfield. On the outside of the play, Walter releases easily from McBride's half-hearted bump at the line and is quickly streaking down the sideline. At the same time, Furrey runs ten yards upfield and slants inside on a post pattern. This puts S Brandon McGowan in a tricky situation. With Walter on the edge and Furrey to his inside, McGowan finds himself with two receivers in his zone. His initial reaction is to break inside and cover Furrey, which leaves Walter all by himself. Kitna then tosses a beautiful touch pass right on the money and hits his man in the corner of the end zone. Walter makes a nice grab and drags his feet along the turf for the TD. This gives the Lions a 24-20 lead from which they never looked back.

The first error by the Chicago defense on this play came before the snap. They lined up in their base Cover 2 and made no attempt to disguise it. Kitna saw this and knew that if Walter got a good release down the sideline, he'd be wide open. The second error came from McBride, who hardly got a hand on the receiver he was charged with chucking. If he stuffs Walter at the line of scrimmage, then McGowan might have had time to reach the corner of the end zone before the ball did.

3rd-and-3 on the Detroit 44-yard line. Chicago comes out in a three-receiver set. WR Bernard Berrian is split wide left with WR Mark Bradley in the slot. The Lions initially show blitz by bringing all three of their linebackers up to the line of scrimmage. Just before the snap, nickelback Keith Smith sneaks up into Bradley's face.

CB Keith Smith
Duane Burleson/AP Images

QB Brian Griese takes the snap from center and drops back to pass. All three of Detroit's LBs move back from the line and into pass coverage, leaving only four pass rushers. Griese immediately looks left and locks on to Berrian. Smith, who is inside of Berrian, gives Bradley a bump at the line before passing him off to the safeties. This reveals zone coverage, but Griese doesn't recognize it. He attempts to hit Berrian on a slant pattern but throws off his back foot. The pass has no zip on it and is thrown directly to Smith. The cornerback makes the easy interception and then runs untouched 64 yards into the end zone. The Lions go up 13-10.

Detroit does a good job of disguising its coverage, initially showing blitz but backing out of it at the snap. This confuses Griese, who feels pressure that isn't really there. In response, the quarterback makes an unnecessarily quick throw off his back foot.

The blitz wasn't the only thing the Bears' signal-caller misread. He thought the Lions were in man coverage, but they were actually in zone. So when Keith followed Bradley on the slant, Griese assumed the passing lane would be open. Yet just as the ball is thrown, Keith releases his receiver to the safety behind him and is standing right in front of Berrian. It is an easy interception at that point because of Griese's inability to correctly read the defense.

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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