This is a breakdown of the Bears first drive from the Steelers game and the final drive of the game. I wanted to see what led to the Bears success and whether the Bears were able to handle the sound and blitzing early and when the Steelers got desperate later in the game.
The grading scale
[++]: Exceptional Block
[+] Good Block
[/] Solid block that does not cause the play to fail
[-] A bad block that affects the play negatively.
[–] A terrible block that leads to the failure of the play.
Play 1: Pass to Marshall [8 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Doubles down on Keisel and does a nice job of staying big to dissuade the blitz. When you turn you shoulders DC will blitz you.
Slauson [+]: Good double team.
Garza [+]: Doubles with Long.
Long [+]: Good body position keeping his chest square to react to the blitz and stones the DT with Garza.
Mills [++]: Great kick slide and body position absorbs the Woodley bull rush by landing his punch and extending his arms and not allowing Woodley to get to his body.
Play 2: Run Left Forte [5 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Comes down hard, but needs to get his head across and not allow the DE to move down the line.
Slauson [++]: Great job of surging Keisel and then coming off on the LB, which is a perfect backside zone block.
Garza [+]: Does an excellent job, while not getting a ton of push, but he moves the NT off of the spot and opens up the cut back lane.
Long [/]: Keeps Hood outside on the zone run, but he does not control Hood and allows him up field. Zone runs cannot have any penetration.
Mills [+]: Does a nice job of staying on his track and gets on Woodley, who does not come that hard.
Play 3: Pass [Incomplete]
Bushrod [+]: Poor footwork as he crosses over his kick slide but he is in perfect position to take on Kiesel.
Slauson [+]: Triple teams the NT, which is fine, but I would have preferred to see him look to help his OT.
Garza [+]: Triple teams the NT.
Long [+]: Triple teams the NT, which is fine, but I would have preferred to see him look to help his OT.
Mills [++]: Literally perfect technique and base and he forces and absorbs the bull rush.
Play 4: Pass [& Yards]
Bushrod [++]: Really disciplined kick slide and nice hand work to slap away the 1 hand bull rush and knock Jarvis Jones off balance.
Slauson [+]: Handles Kiesel, but his hands are in a bad position and would struggle on a longer pass. Hard to punish him for it because it is a 3 step drop.
Garza [+]: Doubles the NT.
Long [+]: Good inside hand punch and keeps his outside arm free so he can react to the blitz.
Mills [+]: Starts with really good technique, but his kick leg falls under him and allows Woodley to push the upfield shoulder, but he is strong enough to handle it. This comes up later in the game and is a problem.
Play 5: Pass to Jeffery [7 Yards]
Bushrod [++]: His hand work is really good he knocks Keisel down forward by slapping his hands and knocking him off balance, veteran move.
Slauson [+]: Zone blitz, without much to do.
Garza [+]: Zone blitz, without much to do.
Long [+]: Gets depth on his set and sees Woodley coming inside, which drew Mills in, and absorbs it and locks out finishing the rep.
Mills [–]: Doubles down and misses a blitz that was shown early. He should have seen it even if it was not his assignment.
Play 6: Pass to Jeffery [10 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Both he and Slauson get pushed back a bit, but they are in great position and force the DLmen to take the slowest path to the QB, through the OLmen.
Slauson [+]: Both he and Bushrod get pushed back a bit, but they are in great position and force the DLmen to take the slowest path to the QB, through the OLmen.
Garza [+]: Good body position, but needs to sit down and not allow the late push into the QB.
Long [++]: Nice blitz pick up and does not allow Timmons to rush into him and drives him wide of the pocket and locks him out to prevent the 2nd move.
Mills [+]: Does a nice job of keeping his base with wide feet and post foot up and battles Woodley with his upper body.
*We have run 6 plays and just past mid field, methodical drive to this point with quick short throws that force the defense to stop blitzing.
Play 7: Run Right [3 Yards]
Bushrod [++]: Exceptional backside cut off gets past the 3 technique and wheels him to the outside. Anytime you cross the face of a DLmen in zone blocking it is a huge win.
Slauson [+]: Pulls and absorbs a shot from the LB that comes up and fills the hole hard, but he locks it down and does not let him off the block.
Garza [+]: Does nothing special, but he holds the NT in place.
Long [++]: Gets knocked back initially but drives his feet and wheels his hips and moves Hood inside and opens up a huge hole. Great recovery after getting a shot early in the rep.
Mills [/]: Gets on the LB, but does not have his body in good position and Timmons is able to come off and get Forte after the 1st down.
Play 8: Pass to Forte [4 Yards]
Bushrod [/]: Zone blitz and has nothing to do, needs to come inside and help a step sooner.
Slauson [/]: Dips his head and gets his hands wide and misses the block, but keeps moving his feet and stays in front. This was an ugly effort block.
Garza [+]: Doubles the NT.
Long [+]: Doubles the NT.
Mills [+]: Does not have a lot to do as Maneri takes over and handles Hood.
Play 9: Pass to Jeffery [6 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Handles the twist and stays big and chips the guy beating the TE and still blocks the looping DT.
Slauson [+]: Handles the twist.
Garza [+]: Gets bull rushed a little but does not allow pressure and does a better job of sitting and absorbing once the bull rush has started.
Long [+]: Provides help and keeps his body and eyes available for the blitz.
Mills [+]: Poor footwork out of his stance, but great position and hand use to stop the spin. Woodley spins and he keeps his head back and chest away from the spin.
Play 10: WR Screen [-2 Yards]
Bushrod [++]: Great cut block gets Jones on the ground and clears the throwing lane.
Slauson [/]: Needs to get to the 2nd level quicker.
Garza [/]: Needs to get to the 2nd level quicker.
Long [+]: Cuts off the DT.
Mills [/]: Goes straight down the line and does not climb and get onto the 2nd level.
*Joe Anderson misses an exceptional play by Polamalu.
Play 11: Pass to Bennett [5 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Another beautiful rep beating the DE to the corner and then locking him down after forcing a 2nd move.
Slauson [/]: Did not see the twist and should have slowed Keisel down on the pin.
Garza [-]: Gets blown up on the twist and needs to sit down and not use his facemask to stop the rush and instead use his hands.
Long [/]: Did not see the twist.
Mills [+]: Really nice job of getting out of his stance and not giving the edge. Once he secures the edge he uses his exceptional power to finish the rep.
Play 12: Pass [Incomplete]
Bushrod [+]: Rides the DB blitz wide of the pocket and uses his arms to extend Jones past the QB.
Slauson [++]: Excellent job of letting the blitz sort itself out and lands a huge punch that stops Jones in his tracks, good patience.
Garza [/]: Needs to be more involved in the zone blitz pick up once it declares.
Long [+]: Does a better job of seeing the stunt and guiding the DT to Mills and not allowing him to spike on Mills.
Mills [+]: Again his kick leg goes under him and it allows a lane to the QB, but Mills uses his power to keep him away from the QB. If he keeps that leg up he has better power in his base.
Play 1: Run Right [0 Yards]
Bushrod [/]: Gets Jones upfield, but lets him wrap around and does not keep him from getting into the play, looked lazy.
Slauson [-]: Does not see the twist and ends up chasing Keisel and cannot make the block.
Garza [-]: Ends up not seeing the twist and gets pinned in by the stunting DT and does not get to the LB.
Long [-]: Drives the DT down, but he does not see the stunt and he needs to see it and then climb to the 2nd level t give the play a chance because Garza has not chance to climb.
Mills [+]: Invites Woodley up field and locks him down.
Play 2: Pass to Bennett [5 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Nice initial surge, but needs to sustain.
Slauson [+]: Gets to the 2nd level and eats up Timmons for the entire rep. He looks glued to him.
Garza [–]: Moves the NT a little then lets him off to go and double with Bushrod.
Long [+]: Gets to the 2nd level and covers up the LB, but needs to stay lower so he can redirect and not allow the LB upfield.
Mills [–]: Doubles outside on the DE leaving the DT unblocked in the playside B gap. Looked like a complete mental bust.
Play 3: Cutler Run [11 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Zone blitz and he comes down and pins the inside DT when his man drops and clears the escape lane.
Slauson [+]: Sees the stunt and stays square and passes it to the next man.
Garza [+]: Sees the stunt and stays square and passes it to the next man.
Long [+]: Sees the stunt and stays square and passes it to the next man.
Mills [/]: The outside foot goes underneath him and he is pushed back, but he works to maintain the block and knocks the DE to the ground.
*Bennett gets bull rushed straight back.
Play 4: Run Left [-4 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Comes down and physically holds Keisel inside.
Slauson [/]: Gets to the 2nd level, but is late and off balance and cannot get to the LB.
Garza [+]: Turns the NT with nice hand placement and hips and knocks him down to the ground when he tries to come across his face.
Long [++]: Physically bullies Ziggy Hood.
Mills [+]: Invites Woodley upfield, where he runs because he is an idiot, and keeps him from the play.
Play 5: Pass [Incomplete]
Bushrod [+]: Dominates Keisel with his hand punch, but needs to maintain better base.
Slauson [+]: Poor footwork, but great hand placement and strength and allows no penetration.
Garza [+]: Pics up the twist and blitz with Long, good awareness, but needs to finish with better technique.
Long [++]: Great awareness and physically dominates Jones coming around on the twist and zone blitz.
Mills [–]: The weak outside foot allows Woodley to push through his shoulder and get pressure and a hit on the QB.
Play 6: Pass to Marshall [41 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Slide protection and stays in front of his man.
Slauson [++]: Great awareness seeing the delayed blitz from Polamalu and knocks him to the ground and then jumps on him.
Garza [+]: Good block and hand placement allows him to control the much taller Kiesel.
Long [/]: Needs to be more active against the zone blitz.
Mills [+]: Comes down and controls the DE.
*Forte misses the cut, but gets enough to allow the throw.
*The throw is breath taking and results from Cutler being confident in the protection and stepping into the throw.
Play 7: Throw to Bennett [3 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Gets his body in front of Jones and stays square and forces a power rush, which is what Mills is struggling with in the 4th quarter.
Slauson [+]: Holds the DT on the line with his hand punch and a clear power advantage.
Garza [+]: Good job getting his hands on quickly and not allowing the bigger player to start his feet and build power.
Long [+]: Physically to powerful for the DT to rush.
Mills [+]: Helps inside and picks up the OLB blitz when he rushes, which is the perfect job against a 3-4 defense.
Play 8: Run Right [2 Yards]
Bushrod [+]: Decent job coming down, but needs to knock the DTs hands down so he can get around him and move his hips around. Can’t let the DT extend him out.
Slauson [+]: Nce job getting to the 2nd level, but he needs to not allow Timmons to extend his arms and hold him on the line. Zone blocking needs levels.
Garza [/]: Cannot allow the DT to extend his arms and push him back into the backfield. If the DT does come out with his hands up, he needs to knock them down and set his own hands inside and drive.
Long [/]: Surge, but no finish.
Mills [/]: Surge, but no finish.
*Rosario misses the backside cut and is the one who causes the play failure.
Play 9: Pass to Bennett [Touchdown]
Bushrod [+]: Good job using his hands to stop the power rush of Keisel, but he over extends, which could hurt him against a speed rusher.
Slauson [-]: Does not handle the twist well, but is bailed out by Garza who shows incredible awareness. Dips his head and struggles to re direct.
Garza [++]: Perfect play of the stunt.
Long [++]: Perfect play of the stunt.
Mills [++]: Perfect play of the stunt.
*Another incredible throw that he steps into a clean pocket and delivers.
-The opening drive was 7 minutes and lasted 12 plays where the Bears gave up 0 pressures, 0 hits and 0 sacks. They methodically moved the ball, which forced the defense to become more conservative and allowed the OL to settle in and see what the Steelers were trying to do. The last thing you want to do is allow a defense to get early confidence because they will be attacking all day.
-The game winning drive was 9 plays and lasted 5 minutes and with the game on the line the Bears gave up 1 pressure and QB hit and on the big plays they were exceptional despite the fact that the Steelers were desperation blitzing.
-The run game stalled as the Steelers began sending the house and stunting a lot.
-I thought the Bears OL was well coached and well prepared and they did not look confused or unprepared to face a complex defense. The defense was often walking around at the snap and did a ton of stunting and blitzing and they protected and picked up most of what the legendary Dick Lebeau was calling.
-On the road against a blitz heavy 3-4 defense in hostile environment and the Bears had 0, and I repeat, 0 pre snap penalties. That is incredible poise in the noise, as Trestman says, and it allowed the to avoid the drive killing penalties that crippled them last season.
-Mills and Long did a much better job against the the stunts, which shows they are learning and growing, which is awesome.
-Bushrod is really good and people can point at him and say whatever they want, but the guy is always in front of the DE/OLB battling him and making him work to the QB. I love that he plays his game and while it is not Joe Thomas dominant he does what he does. He gets in front of the guy, sometimes with poor footwork, and he punches him. The big passes of the game came on the left side because the LT was doing his job.
-Slauson is a classic power OG and when he dips his head and does not keep his chest back and hands out he will always struggle.
-Bennett’s shoulder is hurting his blocking he has almost 0 upper body power.
-Mills struggled late with the Woodley power rush, but it was a very correctable footwork issue.