Bears on Offense: Forte's Scamper
At the snap, Cutler turns and hands the ball off to Forte, running off tackle left. C Olin Kreutz crosses NT Barry Cofield and seals him to the right side. On the backside, RT Chris Williams cuts the legs out from DT Jay Alford. TE Desmond Clark then pushes DE Justin Tuck into that pile. At the same time, the play-side linemen use a zone-blocking technique. Each blocker begins his movement on a track to the left. RG Roberto Garza gets immediately to the second level, taking out weak-side LB Clint Sintim. TE Greg Olsen stands up left end Osi Umenyiora, as LT Orlando Pace swings to the outside and brings LB Gerris Wilkinson with him. LG Frank Omiyale applies a crushing kick-out block on LB Chase Blackburn, and Forte busts through the gaping hole. The tailback then cuts back across the middle and runs 32 yards untouched for the touchdown.
Chicago does not often use zone-blocking schemes in its rushing attack, but after the success of this play, one has to wonder why not. This overhauled offensive line, which includes three new starters, showed a collective agility on this play not seen by Bears blockers in quite some time. In a zone-blocking scheme, each player must react immediately to what the defense gives him and pick up defenders on the fly. This veteran unit was able to pick off the Giants one at a time, with Omiyale's lead block the highlight. Stretch runs like these with a zone-blocking scheme could be very successful for this offense in the regular season.
Bears on Defense: The Zone Blitz
At the snap, QB Eli Manning drops back to pass. Urlacher's blitz is well-timed, and he breaks through the line untouched before being slowed up by a block from Jacobs. Tinoisamoa waits one second after the ball is snapped and then blitzes behind Urlacher. On the other side of the line, DE Adewale Ogunleye fakes a pass rush and then drops into short-zone coverage. Boss runs a 5-yard in pattern but is picked up by LB Lance Briggs, who passes the tight end off to Ogunleye once he clears the zone. FS Kevin Payne steps into the zone vacated by the two blitzing linebackers and the corners drop deep, indicating a cover-3 zone. The zone blitz puts immediate pressure on Manning, who throws the ball into a vacant spot 10 yards down the left sideline. The offense is penalized 15 yards with a loss of down for intentional grounding.
As with the zone-blocking scheme on offense, Chicago is not known for its zone blitzes on defense. The blitz by Urlacher, followed by Tinoisamoa's delayed blitz, overloads the left side. Manning is forced to get rid of the ball quickly, but because of the zone coverage, there is no one-on-one matchup to exploit. Had he decided to check down to Boss across the middle, he most likely would have thrown it right to Ogunleye sitting in that zone. The beauty of the zone blitz is its ability to confuse a quarterback to the point where he thinks the whole team is coming after him, when in actually it is only a four- or five-man rush. Manning falls right into the trap, and it costs his team 15 yards. This type of creative play-calling can make up for any perceived lack of skill in the secondary, as a zone blitz doesn't put safeties or corners on an island against quicker receivers.
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Jeremy Stoltz is the editor-in-chief of The Business Ledger, the business newspaper for suburban Chicago. He is a regular contributor to Bear Report and BearReport.com.
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