X-and-O Show: Bears vs. Eagles

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 24-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4 at Soldier Field.

Bears on Offense
Second quarter. 2nd and 9 from the Philadelphia 23-yard line. The Bears line up in a four-receiver set, with QB Kyle Orton under center. RB Matt Forte is alone in the backfield, with WR Brandon Lloyd split left. Three receivers – TE Desmond Clark, WR Marty Booker and TE Greg Olsen – are bunched just off the right edge of the line. The Eagles employ a base 4-3, with both middle linebackers up on the line of scrimmage showing blitz. Orton uses a quick hard count before stepping back from center to point the blitz out to his linemen.

WR Marty Booker
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

At the snap, both linebackers blitz up the middle as Orton drops back to pass. Forte steps into the pocket to block one of the linebackers and the rest of the line pick up their blocks as well, giving the QB time to throw. Because of the blitz, Philadelphia uses man coverage in the secondary. Clark runs a slant pattern across the middle of the field, and Olsen runs a quick out. This clears out the deep middle of the field for Booker, who is covered one on one by S Quintin Mikell. On the opposite side, Lloyd runs a deep pattern that freezes FS Brian Dawkins in the middle of the field. Booker, who has Mikell on his inside shoulder, runs 10 yards down the field and breaks outside toward the corner of the end zone. The safety breaks with Booker, who then quickly cuts back across the middle of the field. Mikell gets turned around, and the receiver is able to get inside position to receive a well-thrown ball from his QB for the go-ahead touchdown.

This was an extremely well-designed play by offensive coordinator Ron Turner. By using this play on an obvious passing down, Turner was expecting a heavy rush from notoriously blitz-happy defensive coordinator Jim Johnson – and, thus, man coverage from the secondary. By having the two tight ends clear out on shallow patterns, as well as having Lloyd occupying the free safety on the weak side, Turner knew that Booker would be isolated in space with a safety. Booker then executes a great double move and is able to easily haul in the touchdown pass. This play does not happen, though, had the line not been able to pick up the six-man rush, which they did perfectly thanks to the help of Orton using a pre-snap hard count to expose the blitz.

Bears on Defense
Fourth quarter. 4th and goal at the Chicago 1-yard line. The Eagles employ a goal-line set, with QB Donovan McNabb under center. Two tight ends are on the right end of the line, and TE Matt Schobel is on the left end. In the backfield, RB Correll Buckhalter is stacked in the I-formation behind DT Dan Klecko, who is lined up in the fullback spot. The Bears counter with five down linemen, one being S Kevin Payne, who is in a three-point stance on the left edge of the line. On the opposite side, DE Alex Brown is positioned on Schobel's outside shoulder. Before the snap, linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher inch closer to the line of scrimmage.

S Kevin Payne
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

At the snap, McNabb turns around and hands the ball to Buckhalter running straight up the middle. Payne slides through the right side of the offensive line, dives into the backfield and gets a hand on the feet of Buckhalter. Behind him, Briggs dives over the line of scrimmage and collides with Klecko in mid-air. They both fall into a pile in front of the running back. At the same time, Brown uses a quick swim move to get past the half-hearted block of Schobel. He then races down the line and meets Buckhalter at the 1-yard line. Brown grabs the running back around the neck and pulls him backward, just inches before the ball crosses the goal line. The rest of the defense piles on, effectively stopping the Eagles from scoring and preserving the win.

Without the individual efforts of Payne, Briggs and Brown on this play, the Bears most likely would have lost this game. Payne's ability to knife through the offensive line slowed up the running back, Briggs' crushing blow on a big defensive linemen built a wall at the line of scrimmage and Brown's pursuit into the middle of the field helped finish off one of the biggest goal-line stands in recent Chicago history. It was up to the defense to finish this game, and this time they were up to the task.

Jeremy Stoltz is a news editor for The Business Ledger, the business newspaper for suburban Chicago. He contributes often to Bear Report and BearReport.com.

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