Photo Credit : (Jose M. Osorio, Chicago Tribune)
This is a breakdown of 2 of the key drives in the game and how the OL played. We are starting to see some of the growing pains with the young OLmen and we continue to see solid performances against another tough pass rush.
The drives are the 2nd quarter drive that ended in the sack and fumble return TD and the final drive of the game.
Drive to Open the 2nd Quarter
Play 1: Run Right [5 Yards]
Bushrod [/]: Powerful double team, but neither comes off and gets the LB.
Slauson [/]: Powerful double team, but neither comes off and gets the LB.
Garza [-]: Gets pushed back but he is in a decent position to not allow the NT to make a play, but cannot get pushed back in a zone run.
Long [+]: Up to the second level but needs to react quicker to the backside cut.
Mills [–]: Lunges and misses the DE who forces the backside cut.
*Great cut by Forte to the backside.
Play 2: Slide Protection Pass [Forte 8 Yards]
Bushrod [/]: Slides and does not have anyone to block, but should actively look for work.
Slauson [++]: Huge physical punch that stuns the NT and keeps him on the line.
Garza [/]: Needs to be more active and help with the front side slide.
Long [/]: Gets high and is pushed back.
Mills [+]: Good powerful kick slide and punch that neutralizes Robison’s rush.
Play 3: Run Left [-2 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Invites the DE inside with a quick kick and physically buries Griffin inside.
Slauson [++]: Big double knocks the DT off balance and then climbs to the 2nd level.
Garza [++]: Double teams with Slauson and takes the NT to the ground with good hand placement and driving his feet as he reaches out.
Long [++]: Good initial punch, but the pile allows the DT to move down the line so Long drives him past the play and throws him on the ground.
Mills [/]: Slides down and is run over by Bennett and Robison, needs to stay bigger and stronger when on the backside.
*Marshall misses the blitz and the DB stuffs the play. Would have been a big play.
Play 4: Pass to Forte [0 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Nice kick slide and has a solid base on his punch that combined with the surface knocks Griffin to the ground. Love how he finished the rep on top of Griffin.
Slauson [/]: No one to block.
Garza [++]: Dominant block and has great hand position inside and his base is solid.
Long [-]: Gets his hands on but gives up push into the backfield and gets his hands knocked off and gives up pressure.
Mills [/]: Is in great position and gets engaged, but Forte chips and knocks Robison inside and off of the block. Mills needs to maintain an inside position and recover after the chip.
*Pressure forces a quicker throw.
Play 5: Pass
Bushrod [+]: Allen makes contact, but is unable to stun Bushrod and dips his shoulder and Bushrod drives him into the ground and covers him up.
Slauson [++]: Huge punch knocks the defender to the ground and is even more amazing because he punches while he is kicking and he looks high in his kick slide.
Garza [+]: Nothing to do.
Long [+]: Handles the stunt by punching the DT to Mills and then sinking off and getting depth to pick up Robison who is looping.
Mills [-]: Needs to see the twist and get his head inside and get depth. Cannot let the DT bounce off him and into the pocket.
Play 6: Pass to Marhsall [7 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Good body position and he stops the initial rush, but he needs to punch more and power step inside when Allen redirects inside.
Slauson [+]: Stout protection and a good punch, but allows the NT off late.
Garza [/]: Is helping in the middle and goes to help Long when Slauson had the inside technique.
Long [-]: Gets his hands grabbed by Kevin Williams and allows Williams to get up field, but stays on the block and finishes Williams in the ground when Cutler steps up. But when your hands get grabbed you need to make sure you kick your body into a better position.
Mills [++]: Great hand punch knocks Robison off his route and takes him deep than spins Robison and punches him in the head.
Play 7: Pass to Forte [11 Yards]
Bushrod [++]: Nice disciplined kick slide forces Allen up field and lands his punch, which with the surface knocks Allen to the ground.
Slauson [+]: Stout inside protection and actively keeping his eyes on blitzers and keeping his chest square to the line.
Garza [+]: Handles the NT with Slauson.
Long [+]: Mills and Long ruff up the DT, needs to be more stout.
Mills [+]: Mills and Long ruff up the DT.
Play 8: Run Left [0 Yards]
Bushrod [–]: Comes down on the LB out of control and while he makes contact he is unable to sustain.
Slauson [++]: Absorbs the NT and uses his massive upper body to turn and pancake the NT.
Garza [-]: Gets to the 2nd level and misses the cut block.
Long [/]: Moves Kevin Williams off the ball, but needs to secure his hands, especially on the backside and to finish the block.
Mills [+]: Forces the DE upfield.
Play 9: Pass [Incomplete Bennett in the end zone]
Bushrod [++]: Great body position and absorbs the bull rush from Allen and sits it down. Stays inside and allows Forte to threaten the chip. Does what Mills should have done earlier.
Slauson [++]: Slauson dominates Kevin Williams he gets his hands on and controls him through 3 moves and Jays scramble. Uses great extension to not allow Williams to shake him.
Garza [-]: Double teams with Long, which is great but he lets the DT off the double to help Slauson who does not need help.
Long [–]: Double teams with Garza, but when Garza leaves Long does not take over the block and gives up pressure. It is Long’s block and he needs to finish.
Mills [/]: Double teams the DE, but has little to do and needs to do more than take up space.
Play 10: Screen Pass [Sack, Fumble, TD]
Bushrod [-]: Allen comes inside so Bushrod tries to ride him by the screen, but they hit Forte who should have gotten out of the way. Bushrod gets picked, but this is not a massive failure. Bushrod needs to get Allen upfield and out of the screen.
Slauson [+]: Tough to judge because he releases on the screen.
Garza [+]: Tough to judge because he releases on the screen.
Long [-]: Needs to be aware of the stunt and get his eyes inside and pick up Williams and take him wide of the screen.
Mills [++]: Plays the screen perfectly as he allows Robison up field and uses his arms to keep him 13 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Needs to discipline his feet a little.
*Jay needs to eat this as Allen diagnoses the play and does not bite on the fake. The ball should have been dirted at the feet of Forte.
Game Winning Drive
Play 1: Empty Backfield [Incomplete]
Bushrod [+]: Good kick slide forces the Allen bull rush and sits down absorbs and finishes the rep.
Slauson [+]: Absorbs the bull rush and gives up no push. Nice punch and nice anchor.
Garza [+]: Good active eyes and helps with both DTs.
Long [++]: Sees the looper and physically dominates Robison who is looping inside. Good vision and body position.
Mills [+]: Does a much better job of seeing the stunt and picking up the DT, which is trying to pick him. He loses his footing, but blocks all the way down to the ground and is fighting from his knees. Poor surface and exceptional effort.
Play 2: Pass to Forte [6 Yards]
Bushrod [/]: Soft up field shoulder allows Allen to push the top of the pocket. Needs better hand use.
Slauson [/]: Good initial punch, but over extends on his foot work and would have been beaten inside if Garza did not help him.
Garza [+]: Great job seeing his OG about to get beaten and to come over to help.
Long [++]: Great body position and extends his punch keeping Williams on the line.
Mills [–]: Poor set and loses his post foot [inside foot] and allows a quick pressure inside by Robison. Loses this rep on his first step.
Play 3: Pass to Marshall [17 Yards]
Bushrod [++]: Allen comes hard inside and Bushrod keeps his head back and hands up and forces Allen down the line and into the soup.
Slauson [+]: Absorbs the bull rush.
Garza [+]: Absorbs the bull rush, but needs to sit more when getting lifted back.
Long [/]: Good hand punch, but again does not see the twist and ends up chasing the DT around the pile.
Mills [–]: Gets double moved and moves inside to hard allowing Robison to get the edge on the outside. Needs to get his head and chest back so he can redirect to the double move. Also loses his post and kick foot and ends up with his outside foot up which makes it easier for the DE to get inside.
Play 4: Screen Pass [Sack, Fumble, TD]
Bushrod [/]: Nothing to do.
Slauson [+]: Nice job on the 2nd level.
Garza [-]: Does not get his hips around on Williams to keep him away from the play.
Long [-]: Misses the cut, but the play is diagnosed quickly and the DT does not come up field.
Mills [-]: Misses the cut, but the play is diagnosed quickly and the DE does not come up field.
Play 5: Pass to Jeffery [9 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Allen comes inside and Bushrod collapses on him and washes him down. He needs to use his hands better to control and finish the rep. Does not see the twist, but Slauson and he track, which means they get on 2 different levels and just stay on their guys
Slauson [++]: Tracks the DT outside and pancakes him.
Garza [+]: Assists Bushrod on the inside move.
Long [-]: Misses the twist and gives up pressure, gets fed a fastball by Mills who does not punch the DE and lets him run free into Long.
Mills [–]: Does not punch Robison who comes inside and bounces off Long and hits Cutler. Does not stay square and gets spun by Williams as he loops. Needs to stay square on the looper and force the wide rush.
Play 6: Pass to Marshall [12 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Slide protection, gets beat outside but uses his inside arm to ride Allen by the pocket and allow a clean throw. Great recovery after poor footwork. This would be a Webb sack.
Slauson [+]: Physical slide protection and provides a secure pocket.
Garza [+]: Physical slide protection and provides a secure pocket.
Long [+]: Physical slide protection and provides a secure pocket.
Mills [+]: Physical slide protection and provides a secure pocket.
Play 7: Pass to Jeffery [Incomplete Pass]
Bushrod [/]: Gets bull rushed, but uses the shank, quick push/pull down, on the DE and gets Allen to he ground. Better surface would have been a pressure.
Slauson [+]: Doubles with Garza and stones the NT.
Garza [+]: Doubles with Garza and stones the NT.
Long [/]: Dips his head and does not kick slide. Is able to recover but both he and Williams lose their footing. Long needs to get his head out of the block and not lean on the defender it gets his weight in a bad spot.
Mills [/]: Needs to keep his weight on the inside [post foot] because while he handles Robison to the edge he falls when Robison comes inside. Robison falls as well.
*Xavier Rhodes makes a TD saving play.
Play 8: Pass to Bennett [23 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Gets beat to the edge but continue to work and forces Allen wide of the QB with his hands. Clean Pocket despite not being a textbook rep.
Slauson [+]: Doubles with Garza.
Garza [+]: Doubles with Slauson.
Long [+]: Slides and doubles with Mills.
Mills [+]: Slides and doubles with Long and provides a pocket to step into.
Play 9: Spike
Play 10: Pass [Incomplete]
Bushrod [+]: Loses his footing on a bull rush, but lands an awesome cut from his knees and takes Allen down.
Slauson [/]: Loses the DT inside because he does not land his punch and does not power step in with his post foot.
Garza [+]: Great job picking up the DT that is slipping off.
Long [++]: Head back, hands extended and his weight is underneath him and he dominates the rep
Mills [+]: Needs to keep his outside kick foot firmer and going outside and his arm extension keeps Robison off the QB despite him having a bit of an edge.
Play 11: Pass to Bennett [Game Winning TD]
Bushrod [+]: Handles the inside move, but over sets inside and allows Allen off late, needs to secure his hands and not let Allen off late.
Slauson [+]: Stays disciplined and picks up the stunt.
Garza [-]: Not physical enough on the stunt and gets Kyle Long blown up.
Long [-]: Does not see the inside stunt and gets blown up by Kevin Williams.
Mills [+]: Gets locked on and rides Robison well wide of the QB, but needs to discipline his feet.
-There are a lot of plays where Jay Cutler is standing and throwing the ball and no one is within 5 yards of him. This simply did not happen in previous years where even when the pocket held up he still had bodies around his feet and in his face. It is no wonder Cutler feels far more comfortable and steps into throws more often.
-I like how the Bears are sliding protection inside and we see a number of interior double teams. This provides and exceptionally firm pocket and allows Cutler to step into throws. Pressure from the inside kills plays and kills QB confidence and they are committed to not giving it up by doubling the interior lineman.
-This puts Bushrod 1 on 1 with Jared Allen a ton and he handles it really well. The sack was a blown screen that should have been thrown away. Bushrod gets very little help at left tackle and while he grades out not that strongly he is on an island and has handled himself well against Johnson and Allen.
-Another reason that the Bears can slide the protection is that Martellus Bennett can block DEs when the Bears send Mills down to double with Long. They are not dominant pass blocks, but they are competitive and allow throws to get off. It is huge when you can shift protections and keep DLmen guessing.
-On the final drive when the Vikings were doing nothing but pass rushing the line held up and allowed 1 QB hit on 10 straight pass plays.
-Forte out of the backfield is awesome and not only does it force teams not to blitz, but it is high percentage passes that went for big yards and 1st downs.
-Long and Mills struggled all day with the twists. Mills needs to be more physical and push the spike man back over the line of scrimmage and Long needs to see the twist and get his head around and see the twist and pick it up and not allow himself to be spiked.
-Even when this line gets beat they do not give up quick pressures and sacks. They get beat late in the play or they recover with effort and intensity. This is huge because it allows you play calling freedom and shows the QB and the coach that even on bad plays they will not be catastrophic.