A couple of notes from what I saw during the Bears 31-20 win over the Chargers at Soldier Field today. The fifth straight win for Lovie Smith's squad…
ICONCutler and the Bears went to work on the Chargers' secondary in the 31-20 win.
– Watching this offense, you could see the Bears’ wanted to target the Chargers secondary. The same inside breaking routes we see every Sunday from Martz’s playbook. Run the deep dig, the curl, Hi-Lo Crossers (a standard 3rd down call from the Bears), use play action and target the 7 cut (corner route) in the end zone. Jay Cutler made plays with his feet to escape pressure and moved the sticks on third downs. Plus, he delivered the ball vs. pressure and had control of this game plan the entire second half. Finished with 286 yards and 2 TDs
– Working vs. CB Charles Tillman, Chargers' WR Vincent Jackson was consistently able to eat up his cushion, use a slight stem to the outside to create some separation and win down the field. The Bears need to get better play (and more range) out of both Chris Conte and Major Wright when they align in that single high look (Cover 1). However, Jackson beat up Tillman when he played off-man and inside of the red zone. 165-yards and a TD on the day for the Chargers’ WR—and Rivers wasn't shy about taking vertical shots down the field.
– The turnovers. They are a major issue for the Chargers. Tillman made a big play punching the ball out from RB Ryan Mathews and we once again saw Rivers make some questionable decisions. Go back to the INT in the end zone. Deep inside breaking route vs. Cover 2. When the safety plays the technique of the defense, you can’t throw that ball. In that situation, look to your second read or take the check down to live another down. Don’t take points off the board in the red zone. That can kill an offense.
– The Bears return game. The goal here is to create field position—and Dave Toub’s unit is the best in the league. Hester had a big return and we saw Knox get involved at the end of the half. Think of it this way: the playbook changes from an offensive perspective when you start near mid-field. Play action moves up the list, you can take a shot at the end zone, use the screen game, etc. Multiple options to get in a position to score points when your special teams set you up.
– I talked about Cutler above, but give some credit to the wide receivers in Chicago. Roy Williams (5-62) played his best football of the season from my perspective, Knox (3-97-1 TD) made a great adjustment on the 7 route for the score and Earl Bennett (3-75) showed up again. Bottom line, this group made some plays for their QB.
– Plenty of questions on the fake punt at the end of the game. It’s a great scheme, but I would have kept that in my back pocket for the playoff run. Sure, anytime you put something “exotic” on tape when it comes to the kicking game it forces the opposition to waste practice time. But I punt the ball in that situation.
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