X-and-O Show: Bears vs. Packers

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 21-15 loss to Greg Jennings and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 1.

Bears on Offense: Jenkins Sacks Cutler
Third quarter. 2nd and 13 at the Green Bay 22-yard line. The Bears line up in a single-back set, with QB Jay Cutler under center and RB Matt Forte alone in the backfield. WR Devin Hester is wide left, and WR Earl Bennett is wide right. TE Greg Olsen is wing left. The Packers counter with a 3-4 defense. The three down linemen are bookended by linebackers Aaron Kampman and Brady Poppinga. The corners are playing five yards off the receivers.


QB Jay Cutler
Getty Images: Jonathan Daniel

At the snap, Cutler drops back to pass. Olsen runs straight to the flat, taking Poppinga with him. The rest of the receivers release downfield. Forte swings into the right flat, leaving only five blockers. Kampman comes hard off the left edge, bull-rushes OT Chris Williams and then swims past him into the backfield. At the same time, on the left side of the line, OT Orlando Pace and G Frank Omiyale drop into pass coverage with only DT Cullen Jenkins to block between the two of them. Jenkins rushes directly at Pace then quickly cuts between the linemen, knocking Omiyale onto his back and flying past Pace's hand block. Cutler is flushed out of the pocket, but Jenkins cuts him off and takes him down for the sack.

This play typified the play of the offensive line throughout the game. Omiyale was manhandled on nearly every play by Jenkins, and on multiple occasions he was able to just power through a double team. Because of this constant pressure, Cutler could never find a rhythm and Forte never found a crease to run through. This line has three new pieces to it this year, and if they don't mesh quickly and start playing a more physical game, Cutler, Forte and all the receivers are in for a long, painful season.

Bears on Defense: Rodgers to Jennings
Fourth quarter. 3rd and 1 at the 50-yard line. The Packers line up in a two-tight end, power-I set, with FB Korey Hall and RB Ryan Grant stacked in the backfield. QB Aaron Rodgers is under center, with WR Greg Jennings wide left. Chicago uses a 4-3 defense, with 10 men in the box. Safeties Al Afalava and Kevin Payne are only seven yards off the ball and between the tackles. CB Nathan Vasher is by himself, just two yards across from Jennings.


WR Greg Jennings
AP Images: Morry Gash

At the snap, the entire offensive line blocks right. Hall and Grant start off-tackle right. Rodgers turns and fakes a handoff to Grant. The entire defense, sans Vasher and Payne, bite on the play fake. At the same time, Vasher fails to get a hand on Jennings, letting the receiver run right past him. The cornerback then slips, and Jennings takes off down the field. Rodgers hits his wide-open receiver in stride 30 yards down the field. The play goes for a 50-yard, game-winning touchdown.

My first question is: Why was every player in the box? The defense had played fairly well against the run all night, and even though Green Bay was lined up in a power formation, did all but one player need to be up on the line of scrimmage? And of all the people to cover a top-10 NFL receiver, why would Vasher be put on an island? The Chicago defense is softest in the secondary, and its exploitation cost the team a victory. Typically, a defense runs a scheme that attempts to cover up its weaknesses. Yet on this play, the Bears' coaching staff instead decided to install a flashing, neon arrow just above Vasher's head. This play call, and the defense's collective obsession with stopping the run during a two-minute drill, defies explanation.


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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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