By Chris Emma—
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) – When the game clock is in its final seconds of a half and the Bears’ defense is on the field, a unique strategy takes place.
Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio often sets up his players in an extreme prevent defense, with eight players lined up to protect the goal line. It’s been termed the “picket fence” defense, and it’s gaining a lot of attention.
“Good or bad?” Fangio asked Wednesday when he learned of this.
Well, that’s for Fangio to decide.
Monday brought the fourth time this season that the Bears have run the play, with the defense preventing a touchdown each time. With the Chargers facing first-and-10 from the 23-yard line and 11 seconds left in the first half, the Bears lined up in their formation. Philip Rivers completed an easy pass to Dontrelle Inman for a nine-yard gain, setting up a 31-yard field goal before halftime.
Naturally, the play became an Internet sensation, with debate ensuing about whether it was right to give up nine free yards to make a potential 40-yard field goal easier.
Fangio denied that it shows a lack of trust in his defense. Instead, he simply point to the play’s primary purpose, which is conceding yards for a field goal in order to prevent a potential devastating touchdown.
On Wednesday, Fangio went into more detail.
“They’re trying to get into the end zone, so we want our guys back there defending the touchdown,” Fangio explained. “The six, seven, eight, nine yards, whatever they get at that point, is inconsequential in the field goal.
“The mortal sin there would be to give up seven.”
Fangio’s willing to sacrifice yardage for a field goal in order to prevent a touchdown. However, he does factor in who the kicker is, what the weather is like and certain variables of each scenario.
For the Bears, utilizing the play has worked four times in eight games.
Fangio was asked if the “picket fence” defense is what he calls it or if he uses a different term.
“If I told you,” said Fangio, “I’d have to kill you.”