X-and-O Show: Bears vs. Vikings

Jeremy Stoltz goes to the film room to break down one offensive snap and one defensive snap for the Chicago Bears from Sunday's 36-10 destruction by the Vikings in Week 12 at the Metrodome.

Bears on Defense: Hunter Becomes the Hunted
Second quarter. 2nd and goal at the Chicago 15-yard line. The Vikings line up in a three-receiver set with QB Brett Favre in shotgun. RB Chester Taylor is to his right, with WR Percy Harvin slot right and WR Bernard Berrian split right. WR Sidney Rice is wide left, five yards outside of TE Visanthe Shiancoe. The Bears counter with a nickel package. Four defensive linemen are backed by LBs Hunter Hillenmeyer and Jamar Williams. CB Corey Graham is across from Harvin, while CB Zack Bowman is across from Rice. Before the snap, Taylor motions left to the sideline. This brings Bowman out wide and forces Williams into the left slot. Yet Williams doesn't line up across from Rice, revealing zone coverage.


WR Percy Harvin
Getty Images: Elsa

At the snap, all four receivers and the tight end release downfield. Berrian and Taylor run fly patterns, Rice runs a 10-yard hitch and Shiancoe runs an 8-yard out. Williams runs underneath Rice, while DT Marcus Harrison drops into short zone coverage in front of Shiancoe. At the same time, Hillenmeyer drops straight back to the 5-yard line but then breaks forward when Shiancoe's makes his cut. On the other side, Harvin runs seven yards and then slants inside of Graham. The defender doesn't follow him, and with Hillenmeyer breaking forward and the safeties in the end zone, the receiver is wide open in the middle of the field. Favre fires a high pass over the middle and Harvin falls in the end zone for a TD.

This was a well-designed defense that was dependent upon Hillenmeyer staying in the middle of the field. By dropping Harrison into short coverage, every receiver was accounted for. There was no way Favre could throw to Shiancoe with a 300-pound lineman standing in front of him. Yet, inexplicably, Hillenmeyer breaks on the tight end's out pattern. Graham can't be faulted for allowing the receiver to release inside because it was zone coverage and he was expecting to be able to pass Harvin off to the linebacker. Instead, there was no one there, and Favre was able to make an easy throw for six points. Miscommunication and failed assignments have decimated this defense all season, with Hillenmeyer's blunder on this play just the latest example.

Bears on Offense: Just Watching
Second quarter. 2nd and 1 at the Chicago 35-yard line. The Bears deploy a three-receiver set with QB Jay Cutler in shotgun and RB Matt Forte to his right. WR Johnny Knox is split right. WR Devin Hester is wide left and WR Earl Bennett is slot left, just outside of TE Greg Olsen. The Vikings counter with a nickel package. Four down linemen are backed by two linebackers. The corners and nickel back are playing three yards off the receivers. Both safeties are deep.


QB Jay Cutler
AP Images: Andy King

At the snap, the three receivers and Olsen release downfield. LT Orlando Pace picks up DE Jared Allen, while on the other side RT Chris Williams gets a good block on DE Ray Edwards. In the middle, DTs Jimmy Kennedy and Kevin Williams run a crossing stunt. Kennedy, who was lined up across from RG Robert Garza, crashes into C Olin Kreutz. Garza slides inside also and double teams Kennedy. Williams then swings around behind his line mate, forcing Garza to quit the double team and pick him up. All the while, LG Frank Omiyale is apparently enjoying the scenery. Kennedy powers into Kreutz's left shoulder until the former Pro Bowler is completely spun around, finally collapsing into Garza's backside. This leaves Kennedy a clear path to the QB. He grabs Cutler and takes him down for a 10-yard loss.

Let's face it: This is the worst offensive line in the league. In fact, this may be the worst O-line this franchise has assembled the past 30 years. Pace was just manhandled by Allen all day, Kreutz is a shell of his former self and a bag of corn feed could do a better job than Omiyale. In addition, Williams is playing out of position and Garza is mediocre at best. There is no way Forte or Cutler can have any success with this unit trying to block for them. No matter how talented the position players, an offense only goes as far as the five guys up front and right now. This line is equally inept at both pass protection and run blocking. General manager Jerry Angelo attempted to put together a patchwork line this offseason and completely disabled this offense in the process. It looks like it's back to the drawing board.


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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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