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How did the Bears limit Michael Vick?

Breaking down Lovie's defensive game plan in the 30-24 win. Matt Bowen

Print This November 08, 2011, 12:37 AM EST

After watching the Bears 30-24 win over the Eagles on Monday night, the one topic I have to discuss is Lovie Smith’s defensive game plan. No question we saw some impressive QB play from Jay Cutler, WR Earl Bennett made a major impact in Martz’ scheme and the O-Line consistently won up front.

But I want to focus on how this Bears’ defense limited the production of Michael Vick (21-38-213-1 INT). Let’s break this down…

Lance BriggsICONBriggs and the Bears defense used a mix of coverage and pressure to slow down Michael Vick in the 30-24 win.

- Start with scheme. Tonight, the Bears led with their Cover 1 (man-free) defense and challenged both DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin outside of the numbers. Excellent work from CBs Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings playing with an aggressive style, showing some press looks and taking away the inside breaking routes of the Eagles’ playbook. Impressive secondary play from Chicago in man coverage situations.

- What happened to Cover 2 (or Tampa 2)? We will still see the Bears rush four and drop seven into coverage in situational football (3rd and long, red zone, two minute). But you can’t call this a core Tampa 2 defense after tonight. Again, a scheme they will always carry in the game plan. But vs. Vick, they wanted to play man-coverage and bring pressure.

- Zone pressure. Go back to Vick’s INT in the red zone. The Bears sent Nickel pressure (called “Nickel Fox”). Rush five and drop six into coverage. LB Lance Briggs (“middle hook” player) will read any route that works back to the middle of the field. Briggs gets a solid break on the ball and it leads to a Major Wright INT. The Bears used CB D.J. Moore, MLB Brian Urlacher, etc. to run their pressure schemes and force Vick off the spot in the pocket.

- Take away the deep ball. That’s a must vs. this Eagles offense. After the second Matt Forte fumble, Philly tried to run the deep post out of a slot formation. The Bears took that away, and throughout the night, these young safeties played the deep middle of the field (plus on top of the numbers in Cover 2) with enough depth to force the ball to go underneath. Yes, both major Wright and Chris Conte have to focus on their ability to tackle in the open field, but in this scheme, protecting the top of the defense is a priority. And they did that.

- The Eagles' QB is unique when he escapes pressure, but I didn’t see situations where he could turn the corner and pick up explosive gains. The Bears used some stunts up front when they sent four (Cover 1 and Cover 2) and for the majority of the night, limited Vick’s ability to make plays with his feet. He played like a frustrated QB. That's what you get from a defense that will pursure to the ball on a consistent basis.

Like I said above, the Bears have plenty of positives on offense to look at when you break down this win. However, this game plan from the Bears surprised me. Play man coverage and challenge the speed in Philly. A big win for a team that is now back in the playoff talk at 5-3.

Follow me on Twitter: @MattBowen41


Add a Comment
Nov 08, 2011
12:59 AM

Man, i love it when no one gives the bears the Benefit of the doubt.
Then they make naysayers PAY and Eat their hubris with wasabi and habaƱero Pepper(s?).

Nov 08, 2011
01:14 AM

I think one of the most overlooked aspect of successfully playing the Eagles is discipline. Teams that overpursue upfield and free lance away from their assignments to make a big play get burned. Keeping Vick in the pocket and getting your hands up when he throws can be more effective than blitzing. Cover 1 gives you a chance to get a hand on their undersized receivers and re route them. The danger is letting them get going in open space where their speed and elusiveness is unreal.

Michael RA
Nov 08, 2011
01:16 AM

This is all nice and congrats to the Bears on their D. But some of this goes on Michael Vick himself. He forced things and missed stuff. I saw panic and misreads. I thought he had 2 chances at the end of the game & didn't see an open man and made a bad high throw to another. How much is due to good D by the Bears and how much is due to bad QB play by Vick?

Nov 08, 2011
01:18 AM

Credit those corners, monster game, not often did you call their name. When corners play their best they aren't thrown often at or burned much at all. The Dallas film showed how Philly planned to play on coverage shells so they mixed it up on defense to rotate after showing certain looks. Timing when and how to do it so the increased quarterback checks could be used to bait him into throwing where they really wanted to rally, safety depth help shape those sets.

Easy to check on balanced fronts, harder to do it when they put an extra man down. The Bears had a lot of items that forced Reid into time outs, Lovie had his team deconstruct the Eagles offense. The Bears even sent a safety under a quick route at the Wright place and time.

Nov 08, 2011
01:37 AM

@michael: i think vick's "panic" was a symptom of the different looks and 4 man pressure the bears were able to put together. at heart vick is a gifted athlete who more comfortable creating on the fly and hooking the ball to open receivers then making reads and running through progressions. it's just the nature of that particular beast. he himself says in every interview after a loss that he should study more.

Nov 08, 2011
08:54 AM

i think it likely that the bears will surpass the lions for the #2 spot in the north. it's nice to think that the bears may have knocked the eagles out of the playoff hunt.

Nov 08, 2011
10:25 AM

Bears - Lions on Sunday should be epic.

Nov 08, 2011
11:32 AM

Just like last year, this Bears team is starting to look halfway decent after their bye.

I don't like it.

With the defense GB has, it's a good thing they are 3 in front of CHI at this point.

HUGE game next wk for DET/CHI - should be really entertaining.

Nov 08, 2011
11:33 AM

Two comments. The single safety look was necessitated by inconsistent safety play by CHI before the bye. During the bye week, the Bears made a change which may serve them a few weeks, but expect teams to game plan the 1 safety DEF of the Bears and have answers, starting with DET this week.

Secondly, the Bears were benefactors of Mike Vick's inaccuracy, especially on the last PHA play. Vick throws a 10 yard route 2 feet over the Maclin's head when Maclin is open by 5 yards. He has to jump, loses his balances and can't run for the 1st down. We don't know what would happened after that, but PHA would have a 1st down around the CHI 30 with plenty of time to score a TD to win.

Most QBs would hit the receiver in stride probably 6 or 7 times out 10, Rodgers or Brady would likely hit 9 out of 10 times. With Vick, that's probably more like 4-5 out of 10 times. Another over-hyped QB not to be mentioned maybe 2 or 3 out of 10.

That's why scouts don't rank Vick as high as a thrower. In situations like last night, he at best has a 50/50 chance of completing the throw, where fans expect a completion in stride everytime.


Nov 08, 2011
12:00 PM

Last night's Monday Night game between the Eagles and Bears was a little fishy. At the last minutes of the second quarter, the Bears were eager to score, throwing the ball like crazy even though they were down in their own territory - causing a turn-over which allowed the Eagles to score a TD down. Next, the Eagles fumbled the ball and allowed the? Bears to score another TD. It seemed like they had to score quickly before the half ended. The over/under was 47, and someone wanted it to be OVER. Football would be more interesting if it wasn't rigged. The only way to do that is to not allow people from betting.

Bebo Ellis
Nov 08, 2011
12:55 PM

Danny, just started watching the NFL, huh? Both teams have been turnover-prone this year. Not surprising or fishy at all.

Bebo Ellis
Nov 08, 2011
01:00 PM

Danny, just started watching the NFL, huh? Both teams have been turnover-prone this year. Not surprising or fishy at all.

Jim Z.
Nov 08, 2011
01:08 PM

The Bears are still one of the worst teams in the NFL.

How is giving up 24 points and over 100 yards rushing "limiting" or "shutting down" a team? It's not. The only reason the Bears came away with a win is the awful play of the Eagles defense, especially their secondary, which made a mediocre Bears offense look all-world in the second half.

The Bears defense is far worse this year than it was last year, and I wouldnt' be surprised to see the Lions crush them in Soldier Field.

Nov 08, 2011
01:24 PM

Jim, the Bears DEF gave up 17 pts (Eagles scored on a Forte fumble). Yeilding 100 yds rushing and 200 yds passing to the NO. 1 offense in the NFL is pretty good. You sound like a worried Lions fan.

Nov 08, 2011
02:05 PM

Bebo, just started watching football I see..

Seeing Forte fumble twice after going 18 games and hundreds of touches without a fumble was not the norm. Seeing Vick turn the ball over on a bad read rather than while under pressure or being hit was not the norm. Seeing Desean Jackson fumble his first punt return since his rookie year is not the norm.

Had Cutler thrown a couple picks (was possible but eagle DB's dropped them), Vick been caught with a strip sack fumble, or been hit while throwing for an INT, that would be a different story, but none of those turnovers were anywhere near the norm for those teams.

Flat out, eagles WR's failed to gain separation vs. man coverage. Maclin caught them a couple times in zone coverage, but that was it. Bears had 10 men on the line at times. The WR's HAVE to gain separation to beat that, and failed to do so.

As for Danny saying "it is rigged"... yeah sure. Andy Reid is coaching for his job here. Guys are playing for their next contracts... What do you do? Have Vegas pay Jackson and Forte that 30 mil they are seeking to try and blow the game, pay off Vick's creditors? Hire a mafia boss to kidnap the firstborn child of the guys on the field so they don't ever come clean years later when they are broke and have no reason from the league to keep quiet? The risk of rigging the NFL is simple. If word got out it would destroy the league. Now what is the benefit to the league itself that outweighs that risk?

And your argument on them holding down scoring because of the over/under makes no sense. Those lines are based upon the bettors. If 10 guys bet over, and 1 bets under, the over/under adjusts up the next time they update it or adjust the moneyline. When Vegas picks a team to win by 3, they aren't saying that team should win by three. Dallas may be picked to win by 1, but if they are playing the Jaguars, and nobody is betting on the Jags end, they make the line higher so they can get a more even distribution of bets and not get caught out a pile of money if 80% of the bettors win.

They are saying half the bettors will pick them to win by 3, half won't. They aim to make their money off the vig.

Nov 08, 2011
05:04 PM

The Bears defense played outstanding last night. They held the Eagles to 200 yards less total offense then they average.
I hate to hear all that "what if" scenarios people talk about after games especially when it is obvious some folks just don't want to give a certain team credit for playing well. You can go through each and every play last night and do a "what if" scenario for each of them that might change the complexion of the game. But not a single "what if" scenario means anything because it's make believe. It didn't happen that way. Time to move on.

Nov 08, 2011
11:40 PM

Wow Jim Z, someone kick your puppy?

They Bears are 5-3, with their three losses to the Packers, Saints (road), and Lions (road, Monday night in forever). Those aren't shabby losses.

Nov 09, 2011
10:23 PM

matt, really great as always. Im always learning something reading you. Im curious about the safety play. Am i wrong that the niners have done this at times this year, too? And it actually seems like a bit of a the effect that safeties are playing a lot more like corners these least in spots. Urlacher was great again. When they played cover 2 earlier in the year, he was just amazing. And against philly he was again really instinctive and ahead of things. You need an LB like that in the schemes chicago is running. Also, the front four of the bears had a surprisingly strong game. They were winning at the point of attack all night.

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