The Bears have shown glimpses of a “Mug Front” this season, and did so often against the Cowboys in Monday night’s win. Let’s take a look at some still-images as to why the Mug Front is effective, especially when we send more than the front four.
When the Cowboys break the huddle, the Bears have four linemen and both linebackers showing blitz. Urlacher is up on the line with the Defensive Line, Briggs is playing close to the line, and McClellin is roaming across the back side of the line. As you see in the image, Romo is trying to adjust the route of WR Dez Bryant. There was clearly a miscommunication between the two, but Romo did not account for #47 Chris Conte (Back near the 30 yard line) in this sight adjustment.
A lot happens as soon as the ball is snapped. Notice that McClellin (orange circle) actually goes out to cover the TE, while Briggs (yellow circle) blitzes the A-Gap. Urlacher also aborts to cover the middle of the field. With Briggs coming up the middle and Peppers and Melton to his right, the Cowboys LT nor RB pick up Conte (white circle) who moved up to the line, timed the snap perfectly, and has a free run at Romo.
With Conte in the backfield and Dallas TE Witten covered by McClellin, Romo had to get rid of the ball quicker than anticipated. Conte obstructs his view by jumping in the passing lane.
This frame shows both Chris Conte in the air, and Tillman reading the play beautifully. Bryant notices there is no safety help over the top, and is assuming Romo sees the same thing. Romo doesn’t, and throws the ball into Tillman’s numbers, who returns it for an easy score.
With the Mug Front, Romo had no idea who was blitzing. He assumed there was a blitz, but made his sight adjustment prior to noticing Conte sneak into the box. When Briggs rushed and McClellin dropped back, more focus was given to the A-Gaps, which left Conte with a free-run at the QB.
Ladies and gentlemen, Lovie Smith’s typical cover-two defense has evolved with Coach Rod Marinelli. The Bears defense has freakish athletes throughout, and mixing up coverages and looks like they did on this play will lead to more positive results for the Bears going forward.
(This article is written for ChiCitySports.com. Like the article? Like talking Chicago Sports? Sign up here!)