clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Can the Bears run if the Packers are stacking the box?

A Twitter exchange with former Bears center Olin Kreutz inspired Lester’s latest article.

Former Chicago Bears center Olin Kreutz has quickly become one of my favorite follows on Twitter (@olin_kreutz). I was a fan of his when he played and I’ve enjoyed his NFL takes when he’s been on 670 The Score in Chicago. He’s honest, he’s engaging, and he’s an old offensive lineman. Plus he tweets out some Xs&Os stuff from time to time.

In the tweet above, Kreutz asks his followers to design a run play that the Bears could use when the Green Bay Packers go with such a heavy box. On that particular play the Packers had nine guys up near the line of scrimmage. If you remember that first game on Thursday night, the Packers went with eight, nine, and even ten guys in the box on occasion because they had zero respect for Chicago’s passing game.

I was at that game, and I was pissed off watching the Bears hammer their running backs into a mass of green and gold over and over in the second half. I don’t know if the coaches told Mike Glennon to not bother checking out of runs, but in the fourth quarter of a game they were trailing, they ran the ball fourteen times.

In the following Tweet, Kreutz highlights the Packers in their base 3-4 defense with a safety walked up. Green Bay is likely in man to man coverage with a single high safety, and this was the kind of stuff they did against the Bears in the second half.

I haven’t seen the Bears allow their quarterbacks to check out of any obvious runs to take advantage of the defense, so I tweeted Olin about it, and here’s his response.

In my opinion, this just strengthens the “handcuff” argument that Andrew discussed in his Trial of John Fox series.

But back to the original Tweet from Kreutz, here’s a pic of that look he asked us to give him a play for.

Before I give my play, let me share something I was taught back in the day. From a scheme standpoint, the offense has the advantage on every single play. When you take it to the chalkboard or the whiteboard (or a tablet these days), I can draw up a successful play no matter the defense you put against me. If my offense executes, they’ll win every single time.

But football isn’t played with a dry-erase marker, and defenders are busting their ass to thwart the offense every play. Offensive players miss blocks, they miss assignments, they get confused, they forget their checks and options. It happens.

I tweeted at Kreutz to run a counter to the left side, with right guard Kyle Long pulling to kick out Green Bay’s right outside linebacker.

Kreutz’s agreeable response inspired me to diagram out the play and build this article around it, so here’s what I came up with.

The quarterback has to open up to the right, with the running back taking a jab step to his right before coming back to the left to accept the handoff. Green Bay’s Ahmad Brooks (#55) is left unblocked initially, but the pull from Long will be a nice surprise for him. Long’s block is key, but so is the down block on Morgan Burnett (#42). If the Bears’ tight end misses that block on Burnett he could blow the play up. The play side combo block by Charles Leno (LT) and Josh Sitton (LG) should be easy enough, and Cody Whitehair only has to stop penetration from the nose guard.

On the backside, right tackle Bobby Massie and the two tight ends need to step play side and work to cut off pursuit. Massie working up to cut off the inside linebacker (#47 Jake Ryan) is a tough block, but if this is blocked correctly on the play side, Ryan wouldn’t be able to get to the ball carrier until the back already had a positive gain. Ryan would likely get caught up in the wash pursuing and be forced to take a deeper angle.

Clay Matthews (#52) could present a problem if he’s not slowed up at all, but if you have a running back that can’t outrun backside pursuit, then you need to find a faster running back. Plus if Matthews does sell out for the pursuit — ignoring the potential for the quarterback to keep or to throw on a play action — a good offense will take advantage of that later.

(Insert your ‘but the Bears aren’t a good offense” comments here.)

Now it’s your turn. What play would you design for the Bears to beat that look the Packers gave? If you are really ambitious, download the picture, draw it up, and share in the comment section.