We're just not going to give you the snap count breakdown, this is Windy City Gridiron after all, so we'll provide some analysis and opinion to give the numbers some context. But before we get into that snap count breakdown, let's take a look at how the Chicago Bears started the game, because they were forced to make some changes.
Defensively, with starting defensive tackle Stephen Paea still nursing his sprained toe, the Bears kicked Corey Wootton inside to DT, and started Shea McClellin at defensive end. They also countered the Saints 3 wide out look, and began the game in nickle, with Isaiah Frey starting in place of middle linebacker D.J. Williams.
It's interesting to note that it wasn't always Williams coming off the field when Chicago went nickle. A few times they brought outside linebacker James Anderson off, and gave D.J. some nickle linebacker reps.
On offense the Bears started in their 3 wide out look, starting Earl Bennett at wide receiver instead of going with a fullback.
Sticking with the offense, the Bears were looking to save the dinged up shoulder of starting tight end Martellus Bennett, and he only played 33 of the 56 snaps of offense. In his place, more often than not, the Bears subbed in tackle Eben Britton to play TE. Britton played 16 snaps on offense. With the blocking TE role being played by Britton, the Bears decided to make tight end Steve Maneri inactive for the game.
I wonder if the Bears will even throw the big tackle a bone and actually send a pass his way?
The bulk of the wide out snaps went to the three atop the depth chart, Brandon Marshall with 54, Alshon Jeffery with 53, and Earl Bennett with 46 (82%).
Backup TE Dante Rosario and back up RB Michael Bush each logged seven offensive snaps, and fullback Tony Fiammetta only played four.
As someone that was calling for more running plays to be called in the first half, I wanted to see Marc Trestman line up in some I formation and run at the blitz happy Saints. Or at least go double tight end, and hit them with some more outside zone plays.
The offense, while flashing some outstanding stuff at times, is still a work in progress. From the play caller, the audibles, and the execution, the Bears need to keep improving and get the offensive some consistency. Probably the easiest way to improve their starts, is by staying out of the 3rd and longs. A bit more running early in the game may do that.
On defense, the Bears ran out their nickle package, and nickle-back Frey, on 17 snaps. The Saints run a west coast offense as well, and they are able to get various looks with their dynamic TE Jimmy Graham, who only played 55% of the Saints' snaps.
One more note on the Saints offense, I really love the diamond look they run plays from. That's the three back backfield I formation they run, with a tailback, and a fullback and tight end off set between the QB and the RB. The Green Bay Packers regularly run from this formation, and I think it provides a lot of mismatch opportunities.
But back to the Bears defense. Starting linebackers Lance Briggs played every snaps, strong side OLB Anderson played 61 snaps, and starting mike backer Williams logged 54 (82%).
The defensive line shaped up with McClellin leading the way with 62 snaps. I was critical of Shea on twitter (follow me @wiltfongjr), but he did pick up six total tackles, including one for loss, and a quarterback hit. My problem with McClellin is his pass rush, or lack thereof. He was drafted to be, at the very least, a pass rush specialist, and so far he isn't very special.
Wootton had 60 reps along the defensive line, and if he's the long term answer at the 3 technique DT, the Bears could be in trouble. At a legit 6'6", I don't think he has enough leverage to consistently win battles in the run game on the inside. He's OK on passing downs, but I'd rather he spend the majority of his time on the edge.
Julius Peppers had 58 snaps, and Nate Collins had 45 before he suffered his injury. New DT Landon Cohen had 26 snaps, and defensive end David Bass had 13. I thought Bass flashed some speed off the edge, and he had a tackle and a QB hit in his limited time.
What were your thoughts on the play breakdown from the Bears this week?