After the week 1 loss to Green Bay I was very adamant about my displeasure with the game plan. Whether it falls on offensive coordinator Ron Turner or the many audibles from Jay Cutler, I didn't like the way they attacked the Packer defense. But, I have to give credit where it's due on the home opener vs. Pittsburgh.
Turner called a good game.
Turner only called 16 runs, a far cry from the "get off the bus running mentality", but his runs were sprinkled throughout the day, and gave the Steelers enough of a look to keep Matt Forte on their minds. Even though Forte hasn't looked like the premier back many expected, he's still has respect league wide, and teams still game plan for the Bears running game. However, a few more sub par games and thoughts of the sophomore slump will start to creep in. Personally I just feel the Bears faced two very good run defenses, so I'm not concerned with Forte (or the run blocking of the O-Line)... his breakout is coming.
Facing the 3-4 defense poses problems, the many blitzes and various angles they blitz from are the biggest. Identifying where the blitzers are coming from is crucial to beating them with the quick 1 to 3 step drops. Jay Cutler did plenty of the quick step and throws to the receivers, and more often than not they were called to the perfect side to beat the blitz. Defenses hate those quick hitters, it negates their pass rush, and can wear down a defense by forcing them to pursue. It's basically an extension of the run game. As fans we're accustomed to pass plays going for big gains, but with those bubble screens a 3 or 4 yard pick up is acceptable. With the speed the Bears have at wide out in Devin Hester and Johnny Knox getting the ball in their hands could lead to some big yards after catch opportunities.
Screens in general are a great way to take advantage of aggressive defenses. Catching a defense rushing up field then dumping it off to a back is almost too easy if run properly. I'd love to see the Bears become better at the traditional screens to the running backs, just like the one they ran to Forte in the fourth quarter (where Olsen saved the day with the fumble recovery). Cutler is such a vertical threat, screens should be a big part of the game plan every week.
Getting back to beating the blitz, if you can guess which side the blitz is coming from you can exploit either a one on one match-up or a hole in the zone. In my opinion the Steelers sold out where they were coming from when they blitzed. When their players showed blitz, more often than not they came. The Zone Blitz is at it's best when they show blitz on one side, then blitz from the other, and the Steelers didn't do that often enough to keep the Bears honest.
On the Knox TD the Steelers blitzed from the right side and Cutler hit Knox coming from the right. He was one on one against an already hobbling Tyrone Carter. Recognizing where that blitz was coming from was key for that play.
Find the blitz, short drop, and throw. I read a few Steelers blogs leading up to the game, and almost to a man, their worry was the short passing game. Good to see them disappointed this week.