X-and-O Show: Bears vs. Panthers

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 for the Chicago Bears from Sunday's 20-17 Week 2 defeat to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.

Bears on Offense
Fourth quarter. 3rd and 7 at the Chicago 13-yard line. The Bears line up in a three-wide receiver set, with WR Marty Booker split left and WR Rashied Davis in the slot. QB Kyle Orton is back in shotgun, with RB Matt Forte to his right and TE Desmond Clark to his left. The Panthers use their nickel package, with four down linemen and two linebackers – both five yards deep. On the outside, CB Ken Lucas gives Booker an 8-yard cushion.


QB Kyle Orton
Rex Arbogast/AP Images

At the snap, Carolina only rushes the four linemen. Clark stays in the backfield to block and there is no pressure on Orton, who looks left immediately. Wide left, Davis and Booker release downfield. Davis breaks inside at 15 yards and gets caught up in the wash of linebackers and safeties. Booker hesitates for an instant 10 yards downfield, which causes Lucas to slow up briefly. Booker then turns on the jets and blows past Lucas. Orton sees the wide-open receiver and releases the ball downfield, only he overthrows Booker, who, at the point, is three yards behind the cornerback. Chicago is forced to punt.

This play occurred with 7:03 left in the game and the score 17-13 in the Bears' favor. If Orton had been able to make an accurate deep pass and hit his veteran receiver in stride for a TD, the game would have most likely been over. Later in the fourth quarter, Orton overthrew a wide-open Davis 20 yards down the field in Panthers territory and, again on the last drive of the game, threw behind Davis for what would have been a first down just a few yards out of field goal range. If he were to have completed just one of these passes, the Bears would have been in a great position to either win the game or at least send it to overtime. This was a horrendous choke job that needs to be forgotten before Tampa Bay rolls into town.

Bears on Defense
Fourth quarter. 1st and 10 at the Chicago 24-yard line. The Panthers line up in a power-I formation, with QB Jake Delhomme under center and FB Brad Hoover and RB Jonathon Stewart stacked in the backfield. TE Jeff King is in a down position on the right edge of the line, and WR Muhsin Muhammad is slot left. The Bears use a base 4-3, with all four linemen and all three linebackers along the line of scrimmage. S Mike Brown is only a yard off the line, as well. Only S Kevin Payne is deep in the secondary.


LB Hunter Hillenmeyer
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

At the snap, LB Lance Briggs blitzes up the middle, while fellow linebackers Brian Urlacher and Hunter Hillenmeyer drop into coverage. Delhomme turns and fakes a handoff to Stewart up the middle. This freezes both of the safeties and Urlacher. DT Tommie Harris gets around G Geoff Hangartner using a swim move and puts pressure on the QB. At the same time, King releases from the right side of the line and is shadowed by Hillenmeyer on his outside shoulder. King runs straight down the hash and turns for the ball 15 yards upfield. Delhomme locks onto his tight end and gets rid of the ball just before Harris hits him. Hillenmeyer stays on King's outside shoulder, yet the ball is thrown to the inside and allows the tight end to make a diving grab at the 1-yard line. On the very next play, Carolina scores the game-winning touchdown.

This play was entirely set up by the hard-nosed running of Stewart, who punished the Chicago defense in the second half. On the play previous, Stewart had rushed for an 11-yard gain, which is why the Bears had their run-stopping personnel on the field. It's also the reason all but three defenders were lined up along the line of scrimmage at the snap. If the Bears had been able to tackle Stewart effectively in the second half, Payne and Urlacher would not have been so inclined to bite on the play fake and, in the process, leave a gaping passing lane. Chicago's defense let a rookie running back take over the game, and it cost them in the end.

Jeremy Stoltz is a staff writer for The Business Ledger, the business newspaper for suburban Chicago. He contributes frequently to Bear Report and BearReport.com.


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