Friday, October 24, 2014

Is Lance Briggs holding the Bears defense back?

The three opening day starting linebackers for the 2014 Chicago Bears were first year linebacker and converted DE Shea McClellin and veterans DJ Williams and Lance Briggs.  After training camp, after preseason, after evaluating all options, these three were deemed to be the best option for the Chicago Bears defense.

The general thinking was that having two veteran linebackers would help out the first-year linebacker and help stabilize the revamped defense.  After last year, the draft picks, and the free agent signings, the full focus from Phil Emery down to the practice squad defensive players is that they need to stop the run.  Veteran linebackers give you the best chance to stop the run.  But is what we are seeing the best option?

Other than week 1 against Buffalo, where the defense gave up nearly 200 yards on the ground, the defense has been fairly decent against the run (especially considering how abysmal the unit was against the run last season).  127 yards on the ground in a win in San Fran, 114 yards in a win versus the Jets, 56yards for the Packers, 90 for Carolina, 42 for Atlanta, and 137 rushing yards for Miami making the Bears almost perfectly in the middle of the pack (#16) rush defense.  So, for the most part, not being able to stop the run isn't the reason for the Bears 3-4 record.

Where we are seeing the disconnect on the defense is pass coverage and getting off the field on 3rd downs.  If you are watching the product on the field and you're paying attention, you'll see two old men plodding around the field. DJ Williams and Lance Briggs know where they need to be on running plays, but on pass downs and read option plays and misdirections, the pair are finding that father time has hit them ridiculously hard.

Against the Falcons, one of the most potent passing attacks in the league, all three starting linebackers and primary backup Jon Bostic were all injured and out.  The Bears were forced to start three young linebackers: Greene, Sharpton, and Jones.  What they lacked in experience, they more than made up for in speed, hitting, and athleticism.  Where we see the impact of this youthful speed over the veteran experience most is on the third down efficiency. Atlanta was only 4 of the 13 on third down attempts.  Fact: you stop the opponent on third down and you give the ball back to your offense and get to rest up for a few minutes.  Are the lost steps on the veteran linebackers the key to why the Bears can't get off the field on third downs?

With the rich history of linebackers that the Chicago Bears have had (Mike Singletary, Dick Butkus, Otis Wilson, Doug Buffone, Brian Urlacher, Bill George, etc), it's a hard pill to swallow that the well seems to have run dry and the talent pool at linebacker is no longer there.
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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bears take a tough loss at home to the Miami Dolphins

The Chicago Bears tough loss to the Miami Dolphins at Solider Field was a rough one to swallow.  Come listen to me and Lester Wiltfong from talk about game and preview the New England game next week.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chicago Bears huge win vs Atlanta Falcons and the start of the Blackhawks season (Podcast episode 32)

The Chicago Bears with a huge win versus Devon Hester and the Atlanta Falcons.  Also, the Blackhawks begin their quest to get the Stanley Cup back with back to back wins.  All of this and more on this episode of Bill Swerskis Sports Talk Chicago

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Bears' tough loss to the Panthers and the Nick Leddy trade

The Chicago Bears took a tough loss to the Carolina Panthers and the Blackhawks trade Nick Leddy to the NY Isalnders for 3 prospects.  All of this and more on this episode of Bill Swerskis Sports Talk Chicago

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Preview Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers, Paul Konerko retires edition. Bill Swerski Sports Talk Chicago ep 30

Previewing the Bears vs the Green Bay Packers, Paul Konerko retires, and the Blackhawks trade rumors.  All of this and more on this episode of Bill Swerski's Sports Talk Chicago
0-11:40 Blackhawks
11:40 -15:40 White Sox
16:40-26:25 Cubs
26:54-end Bears

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Play Breakdown: Bears vs Jets

This is a feature I'm hoping to do after every game. We will break down a few plays each game.


As you can see from the formation, the Bears are in a heavy package. There is a good chance they run out of this formation or are extremely worried about pass rush. 2 wide, single back, tight end in tight and an offensive lineman in a TE spot.
The MLB bites on the play action fake.  The WLB is frozen.  However, the wideouts have man coverage with two high safeties to contend with.
After the fake, Cutler drops back  7 steps. By the time he plants, the pass protection has broken down completely.  Eben Britton (lined up as a TE), finds his way to a one-on-one block.  And Forte winds up one-on-one blocking DT Wilkerson.
Wilkerson easily beats Forte and is on Cutler like white on rice.
Wilkerson with the sack and no threat of the wideouts getting open.

Again, it looks like the Bears are in a max protect, dealing with the Jets formidable pass rush.

Unlike the previous play, the line has figured out the correct protections.  Jeffery breaks and Bennett is looking like he will be covered by a flat-footed outside linebacker.

The receivers run routes in the flat.

This leaves Alshon in one-on-one coverage deep coverage and the other receivers that ran the flat and a look off by Cutler freezes the safety.

Even though he doesn't make the catch, Alshon draws the pass interference penalty.

The Bears are running a 3 wide set with TE looking like he'll stay in for protection.

Bears line protection funnel the pass rushers into the middle, leaving Cutler plenty of time to pick apart the Jets defensive backfield.

Quickly Wilkerson and another D-lineman head around Mills, collapsing the pocket and rushing Cutler.

Incomplete pass, with the pass rush covering for the Jets defensive backs.

Bears stack the box with 2 linebackers lined up in the A gaps.

The two linebackers in the A gaps drop back into coverage

You wind up with 5 defenders at the first down marker, trying to keep everything underneath.  Even with a caught pass, a solid tackle forces a punt.

The good coverage allows the Bears to collapse the pocket.  Lamarr Houston reaches his paw up.

Bears had good coverage, Houston gets the tip and nearly catches his own tipped pass.

Bears lined up in a tight, bunch formation.  No additional linemen, but receivers tight, a halfback and running back in the back field.

The Jets lined up like they are bringing 5 pass rushers.

The Jets do bring 5.  The WR isn't in position to block the left side rusher and the pulling linemen can't get there.

Both Bears players try to converge on the blitzer.  As you can see this leaves the corner free to come down to the line of scrimmage.

The free corner funnels Forte back towards the interior line where the play is made.
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