By Laurence Holmes-
(WSCR) With the regular season underway, I’m excited to see what’s on your mind. So let’s get started with this week’s mailbag:
LoHo, Will the Bears need to disguise more on D to try to lessen the chances of being picked apart? Thanks. — Bryan
Interesting question Bryan. We live in an NFL now that is all about confusion. Defenses that show different fronts and line up players in different spots to keep the offense from knowing what set the defense is in. It’s a trend and an interesting one. The Bears do some of this with showing A-gap blitz looks, but I would not put them in the same league as teams like Pittsburgh, Baltimore or Philly when it comes to some of the more exotic defenses. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you can get pressure with your front-four, which the Bears did on Sunday, you don’t need to do that stuff. In fact, the Bears biggest confusion comes from where the QB can throw the ball safely. Here’s what Brian Urlacher and Charles Tillman said about this very subject when I asked him after the game on Sunday:
“We got seven guys in the back-end looking at the quarterback. We don’t have to blitz anyone,” Urlacher said.
“I think it makes our job a lot easier because the quarterback’s scrambling. And say, that the receivers in his route and he’s ready for the quarterback to throw the ball, it screws up all the timing,” Tillman said.
The idea is that you create an umbrella of coverage and make it really difficult to find a safe spot to place the ball. Drew Brees is one of the best at picking apart coverages, so a consistent four-man pass-rush is needed. If the Bears have to do too much blitzing, it’s not a good sign.
Hey Laurence, Who do the Bears attack in the Saints secondary and how do they counteract Gregg Williams’ blitz-happy packages? I assume the screens will be utilized once again, but will Martz move Cutler on waggles or bootlegs? I worry about the pocket with the inexperienced tackles in 1-on-1 situations. — Tim
Tim, it’s about protection. You’re right, Gregg Williams is going to bring the heat and the Bears are going to have to pick them up. And they’re going to have to be smart. There aren’t any audibles built into the Bears playbook, but there are hot reads. Basically, Cutler and his receivers need to identify where blitzes are coming from and then attack those vacated spots right off of the snap. It’s good to see Earl Bennett getting more opportunities to make plays because he’s very trustworthy in those blitz situations. The Bears are starting to feel very comfortable with the screen. It’s a way to counter against an aggressive pass rusher who are only worried about getting up the field and not rallying to the ball after the catch is made. Expect to see more screens by the Bears on Sunday.
LH, I’m not a football expert by any means, but what’s your take on the linebacker play besides Urlacher? I never noticed them. But, is it because front-four were so good? — Mike
Mike, the Bears were pleased with their linebacker play Sunday. It’s hard to extract Urlacher from that group. Lovie Smith said that he thought even though Lance Briggs didn’t have a big tackle total (three) that he was physical and did a nice job. As long as that group stays healthy, there aren’t a lot of weaknesses at that position.
Laurence, I was amazed at how many people the new fullback, Tyler Clutts, was able to block on some of those big screen plays. I was further amazed by the fact that he was on the field so much even though he only had a couple of weeks with Mike Martz’s playbook. What is his back story and how is it that Martz already trusts him so much? Thanks. — Noots
Well Noots, the Bears were very pleased with Clutts in his first performance especially since he didn’t have too much time to prepare. Here’s what Lovie Smith said about why they felt Clutts could help them:
“We noticed him (on special teams). A lot of times you watch a guy on special teams, it tells you a lot about who he is. We just saw a tough guy with size that we thought could do a few things for us,” Smith said.
The Bears liked the fact that he was downfield blocking on Forte’s big screen. Clutts was on the Browns practice roster when the Bears decided to sign him. He’s played everywhere: UFL, CFL, AFL and now he’s getting shot here. It’s fun to find guys like that and have them make a real contribution.
Great questions this week. See ya next week. Make sure to follow me on Twitter (@LHolmes670).