X-and-O Show: Rams 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 17-9 victory over the wretched Rams in Week 13 at Soldier Field.

Bears on Defense: Williams Fills the Gap
Second quarter. 1st and 10 at the Chicago 41-yard line. The Rams line up in a strong-right, off-set, I-right formation with QB Kyle Boller under center. RB Steven Jackson is seven yards back of the ball with FB Mike Karney two yards deep of the right guard. Wide receivers are split wide on both sides of the field. The Bears counter with a base 4-3. LB Nick Roach is positioned a yard off the line, just outside of DE Adewale Ogunleye. LBs Hunter Hillenmeyer and Jamar Williams are in the middle of the field, two yards behind the linemen.

At the snap, Boller hands the ball to Jackson running up the middle. C Jason Brown and LG Jacob Bell double team DT Israel Idonije. The rest of the D-linemen are blocked well, and Karney picks up Roach. Brown then slides off the double team and attempts to block Williams at the second level, but Williams uses a quick stutter step and swims past the lineman. He then fills the gap and wraps up Jackson after a 2-yard gain.

Williams really came into his own this game, racking up 18 tackles and knocking down two pass attempts. He had four solo tackles on Jackson during this drive for gains of 3, 1, 2 and 1. His ability all game to fill gaps and actually bring the ball carrier down, something this defense apparently forgot how to do for the past two months, consistently put St. Louis in third-and-long situations. One good thing about losing all three starting linebackers is the backups will get plenty of game experience, which should accelerate their development. If Williams continues to show this type of consistency against the run, it'll be hard to keep him off the field next season.

RB Matt Forte
Getty Images: Jonathan Daniel

Bears on Offense: Forte Up the Middle
Fourth quarter. 1st and 10 at the Chicago 3-yard line. The Bears line up in a two-tight end, I-formation set. QB Jay Cutler is under center with FB Jason McKie and RB Matt Forte stacked behind him. The Rams counter with a 4-3 defense. Eight defenders are in the box, including four down linemen, three linebackers and CB Ronald Bartell, who is positioned a few yards outside DE Chris Long.

At the snap, Cutler hands the ball to Forte running middle-left. McKie leads left and picks up Bartell on the blitz. Long crashes inside and pushes TE Kellen Davis into the backfield. Both defensive tackles are driven right, which opens up a lane on the left side. All three LBs then rush to fill the gap. At the same time, Davis slows up Long and drives him into the pile of defenders. Forte sees all three linebackers fill the hole and cuts behind Davis. The linebackers are caught behind the pile, and Forte squeezes through a seam on the backside. He bursts through the middle and rushes 15 yards before he's taken down by S Craig Dahl.

It truly is a shame that Forte does not have a solid line in front of him. When given a chance, he's been able to demonstrate exceptional field vision, cutting ability and burst. The O-line did a solid job of backside blocking on this play, giving the runner space in the backfield. But it was Forte's ability to read the play, cut away from the defenders and find a hole that made the play a success. This came with less than six minutes to play and the Bears backed up to their goal line. If they go three-and-out, the Rams would have had great field position down only eight points. Instead, Forte broke a big run and gave his offense and special teams the breathing room they needed to conserve the win.

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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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