The Chicago Bears’ defense got a lot of well-deserved praise on Monday night for their handling of the Green Bay Packers’ offense. Yes, that performance did have something to do with the fact that Shea McClellin knocked Aaron Rodgers out of the game on the Packers’ first drive of the contest, but with some great pressure from both defensive ends and responsible coverage by the secondary, the Bears were able to keep the Packers from scoring in truckloads.
One part of the game that has seemingly gotten lost in the euphoria that inevitably follows a Bears win at Lambeau Field is just how poorly the Bears did in terms of preventing the run. Eddie Lacy gashed the Bears for 150 yards and a touchdown, and James Starks only rushed for 40 yards, but one of those was a 32-yard touchdown run.
All total, the Packers rushed for 199 yards in the football game. Under normal circumstances, they may have actually gotten more points out of the game with Rodgers at the helm over the woefully unprepared Seneca Wallace, who didn’t look like he belonged on an NFL field with his poor play.
Needless to say, the Bears dodged a big bullet in the game, but it seems useful to go over certain plays where the deficiencies of the defense were most apparent.
On Starks’ second quarter touchdown run, the breakdowns occurred all over the field for the Bears. Not only did the line completely buy the Packers’ pull to the right side of the formation, but the linebackers tried to fill into the same gaps, as Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene collapsed into one gap. That undisciplined play led to a massive hole in the left side of the line, and John Kuhn ended up having nobody to block over than a late-charging James Anderson as Starks ran untouched for a 36 yard score.
The Bears also looked bad on Lacy’s 56-yard run in the third quarter, as their second and third layers once again looked suspect. On the play, Lacy got through a hole in the right side of the line, and safety Chris Conte took an absolutely terrible angle as he tried to cut down the rookie out of Alabama. To put it in basic terms, Conte ended up driving on an inward angle towards the line of scrimmage instead of trying to cut back away from the line as he pursued Lacy, and the resulting carry down to the goal line set up Lacy for a touchdown just one play later.
Two plays like that in a game are bad enough, but it was the absence of gap discipline that really stood out in the rest of the game for the Bears. It didn’t help matters that Stephen Paea was getting blown up in the middle of the field just about every time the ball was snapped, but to make matters worse, both rookie linebackers couldn’t seem to figure out which gaps to fill at the snap, and Greene and Bostic were seemingly winging it at every turn.
Perhaps the most disturbing part of all the failures that the Bears’ defense experienced against the run on Monday night was that they were largely able to key on the run as a staple of the Packers’ offense when Rodgers went down. Wallace was totally incapable of throwing the ball during the game, and even knowing that, nobody could get their act together against the huge runs that Green Bay kept unleashing. It was a bad scene, and one that Mel Tucker certainly cannot be happy with.
If there is a ray of hope to be had in all this mess, it’s that the Bears have gotten those first game jitters out of Greene, and Bostic has shown definite prowess against the pass this year. That will come in handy against the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Soldier Field, but ultimately, the biggest key for the Bears will be to shore up the areas that they failed in against the Packers on Monday, and that is much easier said than done.