Maurice Jones-Drew, the 5'6 wrecking ball, took on the Chicago Bears last Sunday. Statstically, the Bears aren't the best against the run, but, their playstyle often tells me that what's on the field isn't always indiciated in stats. The Bears rack up plenty of yards against on the defense. But this time, the Bears facing a one dimentional team in the Jacksonville Jaguars, they struck a gameplan to take away the run, and, by any metric, 14 carries, 56 yards, 0 TD's? Yeah. It was a good one.
Lovie Smith's Tampa 2 defense thrives off of gap responsibility, holding your gap, and making tackles when the play comes to you. For a quick breakdown at how the gaps work in your typical 7-men-in-the-box defense, take a look at this from SBNation's Cleveland Browns site, Dawgs By Nature.
In your typical 4-3 front Cover 2 front, the Bears can cover 7 gaps against 5 linemen. When you add in the FB or TE, responsibility against the gaps increases, but mostly in the linebacker roles. Linebackers have to cover 2 gaps now, which, with intelligent, fast, sideline-to-sideline LB's, they're able to read and react to the RB's movement, and flow with them to cut off reasonable lanes. In addition, what isn't usually mentioned is the role of the cornerbacks in the run game. Both of our starting CB's, Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman, are fantastic tacklers. What this allows the Bears to do on defense is give the corners the ability to make plays on RB's around the corner as opposed to forcing the LB's to always contain the outside and instead focus on plugging the interior gaps as well.
When the Bears show single high safety, you have 8 Bears-in-the-box, as they drop the safety in the box, a hair deeper than the LB, both to disguise coverage and to provide run support.
And here, you have 8 Bears vs 7 linemen, 2 TE inline on the right side of the formation.
Both of the outside guys, your 'contain' guys have to be able to not let the play get outside of them. In this case it's DJ Moore (another good tackler that I discussed recently), and Julius Peppers (known run monster) playing a few steps outside of the LT which serves 2 roles: if it happens to be a pass play, he has an advantage on the LT being able to speed past him, if it happens to be a run play, the WLB, Lance Briggs, has the gap next to him covered as well.
You have to expect the run is designed to go to the right, considering the heavy personnel lined up on the right side of the formation, and lo, Jones-Drew runs right, and the center of the formation collapses, and forces Jones-Drew, go to the right. And this is where tackling comes in handy, No. 30, DJ Moore, gets low, and when you're facing a guy with a low center of gravity like 5'6 Jones-Drew, you HAVE to get low, and wraps him up nicely behind the line of scrimmage as Tim Jennings backs him up.
At 3:12 in the 1st, the Bears are in a 4-3 under formation with Briggs lined up just outside of the TE on the formations left side, where Justin Blackmon motions inline, where Tillman is manned up against him, Major Wright dropped down and lined up opposite of the slot receiver.
The center (63), kicks out and pulls to the left side of the formation and plugs up Lance Briggs on the outside, and Brian Urlacher is reading the play right. And this play really showed me how not 100% Urlacher is. 100% Urlacher would have been able to chase down Jones-Drew. But he didn't have the speed to get there. Jones-Drew pulls around the corner for 10 yards, in his best run on the day thus far (which isn't saying much at all).
At 46 seconds left in the first, the Jags once again come out with a heavy personnel, 7 on the line, and 1 FB.
Bears counter with a single high safety and their base 4-3, and as has been the case throughout the first quarter, the Bears control their gaps, Nick Roach (on the weak side), standing up, becomes that 3-gap linebacker who's monitoring the inside gap and the outside gap that formed between the LG and Eugene Monroe, No. 75, blocking Charles Tillman, and having patience watching outside.
The FB's job is to take out Lance Briggs here. Julius Peppers (against the LG), has his man beat ridiculously well, driven back, and really limits the options for Jones-Drew. Jones Drew couldn't cut back with DJ Moore basically standing there waiting on the backside. The FB engages Briggs, but simultaneously, Charles Tillman spins Eugene Monroe around, and manages to wrap up Jones-Drew behind the line of scrimmage.
I would continue on, but, really, this was a thrashing by the defense against a strong running game. The line was extraordinary in playing with power and leverage, and the cornerbacks, as Urlacher noted in his interview with Steve Ronkowski, they don't get enough credit for how strong of tacklers they are. And the interior of the line, Henry Melton included, all had strong gap control throughout the game. They all played consistent, and the gameplan and playcalling forced the Jaguars to beat the Bears in coverage, which, they just couldn't do.