Credit is due to Fewell and his defense.
Sacks were earned by pure 1 on 1 athletic dominance, unfair matchup of a DE on a TE, Cutler holding onto to the ball way too long and coverage sacks. NFL.com has some insights on the high risk high reward system of Martz. While Kevin Seifert of ESPN discussed the experience level of the Bears offensive line as “Left tackle Chris Williams hasn’t played since suffering a significant hamstring injury Sept. 19. Right guard Lance Louis departed Sunday night’s game with a knee injury, and the Bears have rotated two inexperienced players – J’Marcus Webb and Edwin Williams — into the mix. In all, eight different offensive linemen have seen significant playing time through four games. The only starter who has played every snap at his original position is center Olin Kreutz.”
Of the first 5 possessions by the Bears, they threw the ball 13 times versus running it 4 times. On the 13 pass plays, Cutler took seven 5-7 step drops which resulted in 4 sacks and an interception by Terrell Thomas. Against Indy, Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride used questionable blocking schemes. Leaving a slow footed David Diehl one on one consistently with Colts sackmaster Dwight Freeney, unequivocally, was a major mistake. And Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s protection schemes against the Giants were completely pathetic. After watching the tape, on 2 of the 4 sacks, Martz incredulously left a TE one on one versus Tuck and Osi respectively. No wonder Collinsworth blurted, “Bears are extremely lucky this game isn’t close to over at this point,” but we’ll get to that later.
After reviewing plays where the Bears gained positive yards, on their 2nd possession , Cutler went with a 3 step drop which resulted in a completed pass for 7 yards. And another 3 step drop netted a 5 yard completion to Forte in the flat for a 1st down. By their 3rd possession, on a Hester screen, he gained 5 yards but was tackled almost by his own lineman. Otherwise, this could easily have been a long gain. By the Bears’ sixth possession, Cutler appeared rattled. Because he had taken a beating, he was more concerned about the Giants’ defensive players rather than his receivers down the field. Despite taking a 3 step drop, Cutler was rushed out of bounds. On the next play, Cutler took a 7 step drop which led to a sack.
Let’s give Fewell tremendous credit for allowing Webster (and Thomas) to play in press coverage more so than witnessed in previous games. Thomas stated earlier in the week that “you want to hit the receivers at the line of scrimmage.” Let’s just hope this becomes a trend rather than an aberration. Before the end of the half Cutler was sacked 2 more times on 7 step drops which led Collinsworth to wonder out loud “Why they continue to throw the ball I don’t know.” In the second half, nothing changed dramatically in Martz’s game plan/schemes, except an increase in rushing attempts.
Part of the reason “they continue to throw the ball” is the Bears cannot run the football. Prior to Sunday, the Bears ranked 28th in rushing yards and 29th in yards per rush. After Sunday, their ranking certainly didn’t improve with 2.4 yards per carry and 59 yards rushing. This is not only a reflection of the coaches’ scheme but a poor offensive line that certainly doesn’t get any help from their coach.
Let’s visit Collinsworth’s comment about the “Bears are extremely lucky this game isn’t close to over at this point.” About midway through the 1st half, some plays of note was Eli being off the mark on the very first offensive play- a play action roll out right intended for Smith with Eli throwing it late and behind Smith. In their 1st trip to the red zone on a 1st and goal in shotgun formation, Chicago had a safety and Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher blitzing. And what does Eli do? He threw it at Bradshaw’s feet. Looking at this play in slow motion, Eli had more than enough time to drop it over the blitz to Bradshaw, who had Boss, Snee and Smith in position for blocks. Even Collinsworth questioned his decision making on this play. Overall, he had 3 other late and poorly thrown balls with 2 tipped for a possible INT. Another interesting stat is that they were 2 of 7 for 15 yards from the shotgun formation.
On their 3rd possession of the 2nd half the combination of play action and cutbacks by Bradshaw led to their first TD drive:
- Off left tackle by Bradshaw that Bradshaw cuts back not by design for 3 yards.
- 3 step drop to Smith for 7 yards.
- Ugly delay of game by Eli – 5 yards.
- Off right tackle for -2 yards.
- Play action to Nicks for 18 yards.
- Bradshaw cuts-back off right tackle for 14 yards.
- Play action to Beckum for 25 yards. Collinsworth noted how Urlacher was pulled in just enough to open it up for Beckum.
- Right tackle by Bradshaw who jukes Peppers with a cut back to the 2 yard line. On the sideline Coughlin screams out “Now let’s finish this!”
- Right tackle powered in by Snee for TD.
In the 1st half, Gilbride called three play action passes. By using the play action pass, 2 out of these three plays gained 43 passing yards. Certainly, a few misdirections and cutbacks became effective against the very aggressive and “over shifting” Chicago LBs. By the Giants’ 6th possession, Collinsworth remarked Chicago “Is bringing their safeties up to help on the run which leaves their corners in one on one coverage.” Shortly after, on the very next possession, Nicks is 1 on 1 with a cornerback. Eli exploited the single coverage which led to a 30 yard completion and first and goal to goal on the Bears two yard line.
In conclusion, the Giants defense was dominant. Fewell’s game plan was executed very well by his defensive unit. On the other hand, Chicago’s rancid offensive line coupled with Martz’s inane play calling resulted in TWO of his quarterbacks getting knocked out of the game. Needless to say, Gilbride was not much better. Thankfully, he awoke from his coma in the second half. By using the play action pass, the Giants were able to move the football.