X-and-O Show: Bears vs. Titans

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 21-14 loss to the 9-0 Tennessee Titans in Week 10 at Soldier Field.

Bears on Defense: Brown's Run Support
First quarter. 2nd and 10 at the Tennessee 20-yard line. The Titans use a three-wide receiver set, with QB Kerry Collins under center. Two receivers are wide right, with the tight end and third receiver on the left side. RB LenDale White is alone in the backfield. The Bears counter with a nickel package. Both corners and the nickelback are playing bump-and-run coverage on the receivers. LB Brian Urlacher is lined up on the left side of the line, directly across from the tight end. LB Lance Briggs is three yards behind the line of scrimmage. Before the snap, S Mike Brown creeps up toward the line and stops when he's next to Briggs.

S Mike Brown
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

At the snap, Collins turns and hands the ball to White, running off-tackle left. The entire offensive line employs a zone-blocking scheme to the left side. On the right edge, OT David Stewart and G Jake Scott double-team DT Tommie Harris for one second. Scott then scrapes off Harris and moves to block Brown, who is occupying the weak-side linebacker position. Brown recognizes the run and uses his quickness to get inside of Scott's block attempt. The guard gets a hand on the veteran safety, but it's not enough to stop Brown's momentum. He fights into the backfield and dives into the running back's legs. White is dropped behind the line of scrimmage for a 2-yard loss.

Although the Chicago secondary let an over-the-hill passer torch them for nearly 300 yards on the day, the run defense was exceptional. The Titans came into the game with the third-best rushing attack in the NFL and were held to just 20 yards on 28 carries. Brown has had his issues this year in coverage but has been a monster against the run, and this play is just another example. Not only does he fill the hole like a 250-pound linebacker, but he also fights through the block of the guard, who outweighs him by over 90 pounds, and is then able to make the play on the running back. Brown is a special player in run support and one of the main reasons Chicago's run defense is ranked fourth in the league.

Bears on Offense: Back-Foot Grossman
First quarter. 2nd and 10 at the Chicago 14-yard line. The Bears employ a three-receiver set, with QB Rex Grossman under center. TE Greg Olsen is slot right, with WR Devin Hester to his right. WR Marty Booker is wide left, and RB Matt Forte is alone in the backfield. The Titans use a base 4-3, with no one showing blitz. CB Cortland Finnegan is playing bump-and-run on Booker, while the strong-side secondary defenders are playing off the receivers.

S Chris Hope
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

At the snap, Grossman drops back to pass. Left defensive end Dave Ball rushes to the outside of OT John St. Clair, blowing past the lineman. On the other side, G Roberto Garza attempts to block DT Tony Brown, but Garza puts too much weight on the front of his feet and ends up lunging at the defender. Brown uses a quick swim move and flies right past Garza into the backfield. Forte steps up to block the defensive tackle, but by that point Brown is already in Grossman's face – this in addition to the pressure Ball is bringing from the outside. Within two seconds from the snap of the ball, two defenders are right in front of the quarterback. At the same time, Booker runs a fly pattern down the sideline yet is covered well by Finnegan. Grossman takes a step back, feels the pressure and lobs a pass toward the left sideline off his back foot. The ball wobbles and gives Finnegan enough time to get under it and tip it up into the air, just as Booker is falling down. S Chris Hope comes over and snatches the ball out of the air for the interception. He then returns the ball 13 yards to the Chicago 25-yard line.

This was a prototypical Grossman pass. Not only does he lock on to his receiver, but he also throws up a lame duck off his back foot. He just cannot handle any type of pressure. Stepping into your pass is one of the most basic fundamentals for quarterbacks at every level, and there is no excuse why a veteran in his sixth year is still throwing passes off his back foot. After all this time, one would think that Grossman would be able to find his hot receiver, which was Olsen in the right flat, instead of just heaving the ball up for grabs downfield. That said, if the offensive line had given the quarterback any time at all, this play might not have happened. Both Garza and St. Clair used awful technique against the rush, allowing their defenders a free run at Grossman. It doesn't matter what Ron Turner calls – if the offensive line can't hold blocks, the play is doomed to fail.

Jeremy Stoltz is the Editor in Chief of Bear Report and also a regular contributor to BearReport.com. E-mail him at jeremy.stoltz@gmail.com.

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