X-and-O Show: Bears vs. Vikings

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 34-14 loss to the rival Minnesota Vikings in Week 13 at the Metrodome.

Bears on Offense: Sharper Picks Orton
Third quarter. 1st and 10 at the Chicago 20-yard line. The Bears employ a two-tight end set, with TE Desmond Clark on the left edge and TE Greg Olsen on the right edge. QB Kyle Orton is under center, with RB Matt Forte alone in the backfield. WR Devin Hester is wide left, and WR Brandon Lloyd is wide right. The Vikings use a 4-3, Cover 2 defense. Nickel back Benny Sapp is occupying the left outside linebacker position, across from Olsen. No linebackers are showing blitz, and the corners are giving a 5-yard cushion to the wideouts. Both safeties are 15 yards deep, just outside of the hash marks.

S Darren Sharper
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

At the snap, Orton turns and play-fakes to Forte off tackle right. Clark stays in to block, and Olsen releases from the line. All three linebackers bite on the blitz, allowing Olsen to get behind them. At the same time, both receivers run fly patterns down the sidelines. Olsen breaks right 10 yards down the field, but LB Ben Leber is able to recover from the play-action fake and gets good underneath coverage. On the right side, Lloyd releases untouched to the outside of CB Antoine Winfield, who lets the receiver run free deep. Orton pump-fakes left, then turns and fires the ball deep right. Lloyd is open but the ball is under thrown, allowing S Darren Sharper to come underneath the receiver and make the interception. He returns it 12 yards before being taken down at the Minnesota 35-yard line.

Kyle Orton plays against the Cover 2 every day in practice, so he should know that it's a defense created to take away the deep pass. Yet still, a good pass on this play – one that was over the top of the safety and to the receiver's outside shoulder – may have ended up a touchdown. That's how open Lloyd was. The play was designed well, and the play action coupled with the pump fake froze most of the defense. Unfortunately, Orton could not make the accurate deep pass, basically firing the ball right to the safety. Previous to this, the Bears had cut the lead to three points and the defense had just forced a three-and-out. The goal-line-stand-turned-Bernard-Berrian-touchdown hurt the Bears, but this play cost Chicago its only shot at a win.

Bears on Defense: Taylor to Paydirt
Third quarter. 2nd and 10 at the Minnesota 21-yard line. The Vikings use a three-receiver set, with QB Gus Frerotte under center and RB Chester Taylor alone in the backfield. WR Bernard Berrian is wide right, TE Visanthe Shiancoe is split left and WR Sidney Rice is in the slot left. TE Jim Kleinsasser is in the wing right position. The Bears counter with a 4-3 package. LB Lance Briggs is on the weak side, LB Brian Urlacher is in the middle and LB Nick Roach is on the strong side across from Rice. The corners are giving 8-yard cushions. Just before the snap, Kleinsasser motions right until he's just off the left edge of the line.

RB Chester Taylor
Harry How/Getty Images

At the snap, Frerotte turns and hands the ball to Taylor off-tackle left. DE Alex Brown penetrates into the backfield but tackle Bryant McKinnie grabs a hold of him, allowing Taylor to bounce the play outside. Kleinsasser chips on Brown then releases towards Roach, who has been inexplicably driven back by Rice. Guard Steve Hutchinson moves up field and gets his hands on Urlacher, rendering him immobile. Briggs is able to get off his block on the weak side and pursues down the line. Roach steps up to make the tackle, yet he slips and is driven outside by Kleinsasser. Taylor cuts inside as Briggs reaches him, but the linebacker has an awful angle and can only get a hand on his back. Rice moves ahead of Taylor and lays a block on S Kevin Payne that knocks him to the ground. At the same time, Shiancoe drives CB Corey Graham to the turf on the outside, allowing a clear path for the running back to score the touchdown.

Technique and desire mean everything on defense, and on this play the Bears had neither. Roach lets a wide receiver drive him backward and then is not under control when he comes up to make the tackle, allowing Kleinsasser to kick him outside. Urlacher just completely gives up on the play once Hutchinson gets his paws on him. Briggs takes a bad angle and is thus unable to make the tackle, and Payne, who is known as a big hitter, gets flattened by Rice, who is a wideout. This was a zone-blocking scheme run to perfection by an offense that was tougher than its counterpart. Besides Briggs' arm tackle attempt, no one even touches Taylor, Minnesota's backup running back – smash-mouth football at its best.

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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