The Texans shut down the running game of Matt Forte and Mike Bush, and part of the reason? Bad execution and bad playcalling.
Matt Forte's line on Sunday night was 39 Yards, 19 Carries, Zero Touchdowns, good for 2 yards per carry. Take a wild guess to why that happened.
Eight men in the Box.
Not just Eight men in the Box, but good run defenders who've held teams to 73 yards per game on the ground.
First and Ten at 11:43 in the 3rd Quarter, at the Texans 41 yard line. Texans come out onto the field with 10 players, Earl Bennett the lone wideout moving from left to right across the 2TE/2RB formation, Whitney Mercilus comes running out onto the field to the RLB spot. The Texans have their down linemen bunched up over the middle of the formation.
At the snap the play flows to the right, Webb blocks Watt, Louis pulls into the double team block that Carimi and Louis execute to take out the LDE, Antonio Smith, in what is your simple Power O run, pull the LG, and seal the inside of the hole while the play moves to the right.
Problem is, Lance Louis gets there slowly, but all those bodies in the center of the formation make it difficult for holes to be opened. Garza gets pushed around by Rookie DT Jared Crick, while moving towards the hole.Even Danieal Manning was standing right over the left side where Davis was handling Whitney Mercilus if Forte cut back.
The Texans were sniffing out these plays, these double team blocks that open up big holes inside for Forte to run between and into some daylight. Michael Bush had a few of those hisself. The problem is, not only having 8 men in the box, but having your linemen closed together, it forces you to run outside, even with double team blocking, even though you have guys on the outside.
But it wasn't there.
Matt Spaeth got beat on the edge by Connor Barwin closing off that end. Nowhere to go. What you see here is a disciplined effort on the defending the run by containing the edges, and not letting the offensive linemen create seams for the generally shifty Matt Forte to hit and gain positive yardage. It wasn't just positive play by the Texans, but solid adjustment and coaching by Wade Phillips.
Next up is again, First and Ten on the Bears 48 yard line. Bears once again in the 2TE/2RB formation, only with Brandon Marshall replacing Earl Bennett. Texans are in the 5-3. Yes. 5-3. With a safety in the box as well. Nine guys in the box.
What does Forte do?
Try to run it at the bubble.
Now, I don't know what Tice was trying to prove, running up the middle and all, but these inside runs were doing NOTHING, nothing at all. Again, the Texans DL is bunched in the center, and the OLB's outside of the TE's. Matt Spaeth does a better job this time around pushing LOLB Connor Barton, but still, the gaps inside are too small for Matt Forte to fit through, and again, minimal gain.
Now, Mike Bush had a good run in this formation, but, the blocking was also better. 13:10 in the Fourth, same 2TE/2RB formation that That gap, on the right side between the LOLB and the LDE, gets sucked up with the double team and Evan Rodriguez blocks James Bradie inside.
And that's the gap that Forte wanted all day, but never got. Lets take a look at it from the back, because the side view doesn't do that hole justice.
Kellen Davis pushed Connor Barton outside just enough, and Evan Rodriguez got his ILB inside to give Bush that hole, and he took it to a hurdle at the end into Danieal Manning.
Looking back, I would have liked to see the Bears try to run a bit more out of a 3 wide set, as the OLB's were constantly dominating the TE's in the running game. The Bears tried forcing the play, but Wade's defense played it right, and the OLB's executed well in containing the edges to keep forte from escaping. The Bears ran that formation a lot against the Texans, and while it worked alright against the pass rush, the Bears line had little chance against that stout run defense. Going through the film, what they tried to execute on offense seemed to be opposed to what they should have been doing. As I was discussing with Wiltfong briefly: Where are the stretch plays, where are the counters, the outside runs?
So, I ask, in addition: What about the passing calls? They've been very good lately, but the running? It's like Mike Tice hasn't figured out how to run against defense, how to make changes in the run game when defenses start doing things. It was something they tried to force, but couldn't actually execute. How much of it was the field? How much of it was Tice not forcing the defense to play outside of what they're comfortable with?
I feel Mike Tice came into the game with one gameplan and stuck with it through the entire game, as if it wasn't raining, as if the Bears were going to be able to move the ball through the air, and his lack of adjustments led to a poor showing in the run game, on a sloppy night.
[Writers Note: This article goes out to ODB, who passed away 8 years ago on Tuesday]