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 Saturday's rather depressing 14-9 loss to the Cardinals at Soldier Field.

Bears on Offense: Bad Timing
First quarter. 1st and 10 at the Arizona 45-yard line. The Bears line up in a two- receiver set, with TE Greg Olsen on the right edge of the line and TE Desmond Clark just off the right edge. QB Jay Cutler is under center, with RB Matt Forte alone in the backfield. WR Johnny Knox is split left, with WR Devin Hester just to his inside. The Cardinals counter with their base 3-4. FS Kerry Rhodes is lined up five yards across from Hester, yet, before the snap, the receiver motions across the field. Rhodes then drops back into the deep safety slot, and SS Adrian Wilson moves up to cover Hester on the other side of the field.

At the snap, Cutler takes a five-step drop, looking to pass. The line does a good job up front, with Forte even throwing in a chip block on DE Calais Campbell in support of LT Chris Williams. Cutler looks right immediately. Olsen runs a drag pattern across the field, and LB Joey Porter follows him. Clark runs a fly pattern, while behind him, Hester runs a 3-yard slant. Wilson and LB Daryl Washington bracket Hester, and CB Greg Toler runs deep with Clark. Cutler then turns left and looks downfield to Knox, who has run a 15-yard out pattern. The ball is delivered toward the sideline, but CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie undercuts the pass and picks off the ball. He runs for a few yards before being taken down by Olsen.

This was actually a well-designed play that was defended equally well. On the right side, Olsen's drag coupled with Clark's fly was designed to clear the area for Hester's slant. Yet the Cardinals executed a perfect zone coverage against it, something the offense should have recognized when Hester went in motion and no one followed him. This left no lane for Cutler to fit the ball into on the slant. His next option was Knox, who was running a timing pattern to the sideline. There's one thing that will kill a timing pattern: bad timing, obviously. By the time Cutler turned left, it was already too late. The pass should have never been thrown. Mike Martz's system is known for these types of patterns. Cutler should have recognized the zone coverage at the line and realized the slant would most likely not be there. He then could have turned his attention more quickly to Knox and delivered the ball to him on time.

S Chris Harris
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Bears on Defense: Harris Exposed
Second quarter. 1st and 10 at the Chicago 27-yard line. The Cardinals line up with two tight ends stacked on the right side of the line and QB Derek Anderson under center. RB Beanie Wells is deep on the backfield, with FB Reagan Mauia'a offset to his left. The only receiver on the field, Stephen Williams, is wide left. The Bears counter with their base 4-3, with nine men in the box, including CB Zack Bowman and SS Danieal Manning, who are lined up across from the tight ends. CB Charles Tillman is a few yards across from Williams, with FS Chris Harris back deep. Just before the snap, Mauia motions right until he's a few yards back of the right tackle.

At the snap, Anderson turns and gives a half-hearted play fake to Wells, who then picks up DE Israel Idonije off the edge. LB Hunter Hillenmeyer blitzes up the middle but is picked up well, as is the rest of the defensive line. Anderson has time to throw. On the left side, Williams runs seven yard downfield, with Tillman on his outside shoulder the whole time. Harris starts to drift left toward Williams. The rookie receiver then breaks inside and is wide open. Anderson delivers the ball to his receiver in stride. Harris can't get back into position and takes a horrible angle at the tackle. Williams runs right by him and goes in for the touchdown.

With three safeties hurt – Craig Steltz, Josh Bullocks and rookie Major Wright – Harris is about all that's left at the position. That cost the team mightily on this play. Harris had deep zone coverage. He had no man to cover, per se, so his job basically was to not let any pass go for a touchdown. Instead, he gets caught drifting and is unable to react quickly enough to the receiver's inside move. He then takes a bad angle and doesn't even get a hand on the ball carrier. The point of trading for Harris this offseason was so he could come in and provide veteran leadership at a thin position. Let's hope he's providing said leadership in the locker room, because he's not providing any of it on the field.

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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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