X-and-O Show: Bears vs. Texans

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 31-24 season-ending loss to the Houston Texans in Week 17 at Reliant Stadium.

Bears on Offense: Forte Stuffed
Fourth quarter. 1st and 10 at the Chicago 48-yard line. The Bears use a power-I set. QB Kyle Orton is under center with TE Greg Olsen and RB Matt Forte stacked behind him. TE Desmond Clark is on the right edge with WR Devin Hester two yards to his right. The Texans counter with a 4-3. LBs Morlon Greenwood, Kevin Bentley and DeMeco Ryans are three yards deep of the four linemen. S Brandon Harrison is standing two yards outside the left end. Just before the snap, Hester motions away from the line to the numbers, bringing the cornerback with him.

DT Travis Johnson
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

At the snap, Orton turns and hands the ball to Forte running off-tackle right. RG Roberto Garza and C Olin Kreutz step back and pull right. Clark and RT John Tait block hard left, sealing off the play-side defensive end and tackle. On the back side, LG Josh Beekman barely pushes DT Travis Johnson, who brushes off the block and moves down the line. Olsen makes just enough of a block to push Harrison to the outside. Garza runs outside of Clark and upfield before getting his hands on Greenwood and pushing him outside. Kreutz follows Garza and collides with Greenwood. The linebacker wins the exchange and drives Kreutz into the ground. At the same time, Forte shuffles his feet to get around his center but ends up in the arms of Greenwood. Johnson then cleans up from the back side. The play goes for a 1-yard gain.

The Bears were only down by seven at this point with the ball at midfield. This was their chance to put together a game-tying drive and take back their season. The line needed to come out and establish the run immediately, or else there would be no doubt offensive coordinator Ron Turner would get pass happy. Most of the linemen did a good job on their blocks, but the one that needed to make a big play was Kreutz, who was right in front of Forte. Instead of laying a hit on Greenwood and allowing the tailback a crease to the sideline, he gets driven hard to the ground. This produces a negligible gain and is followed predictably by four straight pass plays and a punt.

Bears on Defense: Slaton's Gallop
Fourth quarter. 2nd and 8 at the Houston 24-yard line. The Texans line up in a power-I formation with QB Matt Schaub under center. FB Vonta Leach and RB Steve Slaton are stacked in the backfield. Two wide receivers are lined up to each side of the strong right set. The Bears counter with a 4-3. The corners show bump-and-run coverage with S Kevin Payne showing blitz just outside the left end. LBs Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Nick Roach are three yards deep of the four linemen.

RB Steve Slaton
Harry How/Getty Images

At the snap, Schaub turns and hands the ball to Slaton up the middle left. The entire offensive line shifts left along zone-blocking tracks. On the backside, RG Mike Brisiel and RT Eric Winston slide upfield, using their bodies to chip at the linemen and linebackers, eventually clearing out Briggs, Payne, DT Tommie Harris and DE Adewale Ogunleye. This seals the entire back side. On the play side, LG Chester Pitts and C Chris Myers double-team DT Marcus Harrison at the point, then Pitts slides off and drives Urlacher completely out of the play. DE Alex Brown is pushed hard left by LT Duane Brown. Roach comes up to fill the hole, but a solid block from Leach puts him on the ground. At the same time, Slaton starts off tackle left but then cuts just inside of Pitts and takes off into the secondary untouched. He scampers for 47 yards before S Danieal Manning pulls him down at the Chicago 29-yard line.

The Bears were still within a touchdown at this point and had Houston pinned back deep in its own territory to start the drive, but this play proved to be a dagger as it led to the game-winning touchdown. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak installed this zone-blocking system when he came to Houston from Denver, and on this play it worked perfectly. The double-team/scrape-to-linebacker technique at the point of attack is vintage zone blocking. Couple that with a crushing lead block, and it was off to the races for Slaton. The best part about the play was the back-side seal, where two linemen were able to clear out four defenders in just under a second. The worst part of the play was Urlacher's effort once Pitts got his hands on him – that and the fact it essentially knocked the Bears out of the playoffs.

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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