X-and-O Show: Cardinals vs. Bears

Jeremy Stoltz goes to the film room to break down one offensive snap and one defensive snap for the Chicago Bears from Sunday's 41-21 destruction by the Cardinals in Week 9 at Soldier Field.

Bears on Defense: Fitz's Double Move
Second quarter. 1st and 10 at the Chicago 17-yard line. The Cardinals line up in a three-receiver set with QB Kurt Warner under center and RB Tim Hightower alone in the backfield. WR Steve Breaston is split left with TE Ben Patrick in the slot. WR Larry Fitzgerald is wide right. The Bears counter with a base 4-3. LB Nick Roach shuffles out to cover Patrick. S Al Afalava is showing blitz off the right edge. CB Charles Tillman is five yards across from Fitzgerald.


WR Larry Fitzgerald
Getty Images: Jonathan Daniel

At the snap, Warner drops back to pass. Afalava blitzes but is picked up by Hightower. The defensive line offers no pass rush, and Warner is able to step into the pocket. At the same time, Fitzgerald runs 15 yards downfield and then breaks inside as if running a post pattern. Tillman bites on the move before Fitzgerald stops and breaks toward the sideline, leaving the defender in no-man's land. Warner fires a pass to the right-front corner of the end zone, where Fitzgerald is standing by himself. The receiver makes the catch and then reaches the ball across the pylon for a touchdown.

This defense has failed to make pre-snap adjustments all year, which has cost them dearly. On this play, Afalava blitzed from the same side as Fitzgerald, leaving Tillman alone to cover arguably the best receiver in the NFL. He never stood a chance. The defense should have recognized this situation and called off the blitz. Either that, or they should have rolled the free safety to Fitzgerald's side and taken their chances with one-on-one coverage against Breaston and Patrick. Instead, they do neither, and Fitzgerald makes Tillman look silly. This play was doomed from the start, and no one on the defensive side of the ball had the wherewithal to make the necessary adjustment.

Bears on Offense: Deep to Olsen
First quarter. 3rd down and 9 at the Arizona 33-yard line. The Bears line up in a four-receiver set with QB Jay Cutler in shotgun. Three receivers – TE Greg Olsen, WR Earl Bennett and WR Devin Hester – are trips right with WR Johnny Knox split left. RB Matt Forte is to Cutler's left. The Cardinals counter with a dime package. Karlos Dansby is the lone linebacker in the middle of the field. S Adrian Wilson is showing blitz up the middle. On the right side, dime back Ralph Brown is positioned across from Olsen, while both corners are seven yards off the receivers. Both safeties are playing deep.


TE Greg Olsen
Getty Images: Jonathan Daniel

At the snap, all receivers release downfield and Forte slips into the flat. Wilson drops back in coverage as Dansby blitzes up the middle. DE Calais Campbell uses a rip maneuver to work his way around RT Chris Williams and into the backfield. Cutler feels the pressure from Dansby and Calais and rolls left. At the same time, Olsen streaks down the right hash with Wilson on his inside hip. At 15 yards, he drifts into the middle of the field away from S Matt Ware. As Olsen reaches the end zone, Cutler lets fly a laser beam. Olsen breaks across the end line to Wilson's left and catches the 33-yard pass for a touchdown.

With no offensive line and no running game to speak of, as well as absolutely no defensive support, Cutler did his utmost to carry the Bears on his shoulders and nearly orchestrated a comeback. He passed for 369 yards and connected with Olsen three times for touchdowns. It seems as if the chemistry everyone expected from Olsen and Cutler all season has finally arrived. On this play, Wilson had good position on Olsen, but the defender lost track of the ball for a split second, which was just enough time for Cutler to fire the pass behind him. Olsen made a great adjustment and a good catch. It's good to know that even though every other aspect of the team needs an overhaul, the team can at least rely on these two.


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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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