After watching the NFL’s newest version of the Super Bowl the Chicago Bears have to feel pretty good about what they were watching. For one, it’s fairly clear that the Patriots borrowed from the Bears Defensive game plan versus the Rams. Anytime arguably the best coach/administrator in the history of the league takes something from you shows you know what you’re doing.
First, they completely stopped the running game. Not that the Patriots needed to watch what the Bears did versus the Rams to know stopping the run was key to beating the Rams and neutralizing their offense. It’s how they did it schematically that had the Patriots paying close attention to what the Bears did against the Rams and employing a lot of it in their defensive gameplan.
The biggest reason to stop the run for any team is to make them one dimensional which makes stopping the passing game far easier. However, in the case of the Rams, it takes away what makes their passing game effective. Everything is based off of play action for the Rams success in the passing game. By taking away the run it in essence stopped the passing game as well.
So how was it done? Number one, the Bears attacked vertically. During the game CBS color analyst and former Pro Bowl Cowboy Quarterback Tony Romo pointed this very thing out. Even showing video evidence of the Bears defense doing this very thing. The Rams try to stretch you out and make it easier to move you to create holes in their stretch zone scheme.
By simply shooting through the gaps in a straight line you negate the ability to do that. Do not move sideways. Trying to get skinny actually helps the Rams offensive line block you. It helps having both size and speed on your interior line, great tacklers with athleticism and the ability to be stout at the point of attack with your inside linebackers, as well as, having your edge players with the ability to set the edge forcing the running back into you’re interior players. Both the Bears and Patriots have the personnel to accomplish this task.
The Bears also used their inside linebackers to execute a bunch of run and green dog blitzes which is exactly what the Patriots did. With a pocket passer like Jared Goff you bring heat in his face and force him to be an athlete rather than step up in the pocket and fire pass after pass.
There was also the ability of the Patriots to neutralize the Rams weapons with disguising coverages and enough of a mix of zone and man as well as split zone/man looks to put some hesitation in Goff pulling the trigger. It also helps to have stud cornerbacks and safeties as the Bears do and the Patriots do with Stephon Gilmore, Patrick Chung, as well as, Jason and Devin McCourty. The Bears may be even more talented in their secondary with Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson. Add in Bryce Callahan and you feel good about matching up with any group of offensive pass catchers in the league.
Going into the 2019 season one would expect a fairly significant increase in the Bears offensive production based on familiarity alone. Than you also factor in the development of the younger players and especially with their signal caller Mitch Trubisky. One would also have to assume the Bears would have had a better offensive showing and at the very least an equally good performance defensively as the Rams did versus the Patriots.
Even if there is a little regression with the defense, (as many expect because of the defensive coaching changes, and the players having to adjust to the scheme, as well as, Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano having to learn his personnel), the offense should offset that with their increased effectiveness.
However, I not only expect the Bears defense to maintain their productivity but perhaps even surpass it with the increase in aggressiveness under Pagano. Especially from mid season on. I feel the Bears have the personnel and the payers to flourish under an increased blitz scheme. A big reason for this has a lot to do with their star safety Jackson. With a guy who has his skill set you can take a whole bunch of risks with little worry of being burned deep.
There is also the expectation of the running game improving drastically which helps the defense out. The Bears were already among the team leaders in time of possession averaging 31:49 a game behind only Baltimore at 32:05 and New England at 32:00 a game. This, with a fairly pedestrian running game.
In 2018, it was all about the offense early on in the league but when it came time for the elite teams to play each other down the stretch in the regular season, as well as, the post season good defense was the ex factor. Suddenly, high octane offenses like the Rams, Saints, Chargers and Kansas City weren’t putting 40 spots on the board. Hell, 30 points was hard to come by. This has to make the Bears organization feel pretty good about the trajectory they’re on in becoming perennial Super Bowl contenders. For the Bears organization and their fans training camp can’t get here soon enough.