Cowboys @ Bears Scouting Report: Attacking The Chicago Defense

Ronald Martinez

The defense for the Chicago Bears has slipped dramatically this year, with injuries sapping some of the key personnel.

If you're still thinking of the Chicago defense as that relentless wave of players that caused turnovers and could help the Bears win, even if the offense was struggling, then you are behind the times. The Bears defense has collapsed this season, especially against the run. After watching the All-22 film of the Bears and Vikings game last week, some of their failings became apparent. Based on that game, here is a scouting report of how Dallas should attack them.

A couple of things to note: Dallas doesn't have a running back as good as Adrian Peterson, but they do have a superior QB and receiving corps to the Vikings. So I don't expect the Bears to be as concerned with stopping the run as they were against Minnesota, but they still need extra help to slow down the run, so most of the concepts will still hold.

1. Run out of passing formations, pass out of run formations. The Bears can't stop the run, but they still try. They walked up a safety or just plain loaded the box with tacklers if there was the slightest possibility the Vikes were going to run the ball. If you showed them a "heavy" formation or if down and distance said a run was a possibility, they committed personnel. Throwing out of a run formation put enormous stress on their secondary to cover, and they aren't that good in the secondary. Conversely, when you spread them out, they are not good tacklers and they lack gap control. You get a running back in a little space and he will usually win the battles.

2. Use play-action a lot once you've established the run. Chicago's linebackers are not top shelf, especially without the injured Lance Briggs. They can be had and they are suckers for play-action. They will jump the line at the slightest hint of a run. This comes from their failure to consistently stop the run, so they are over-anxious to shoot the gaps, Dallas can take advantage of this.

3. Use the middle of the field. The linebackers and the safeties are not the best cover guys. The Bears linebackers are usually busy blitzing or jumping the play-action to be much of a factor up the middle. The safeties need to help deep, usually leaving a big gap between them and the linebackers. Slants, ins, running backs on arrow routes should be very effective. Jason Witten should prosper this week.

4. Get your hot-read ready. Dallas needs to have an effective blitz hot-read ready on every play. The Bears front four can't create enough pressure consistently on their own. They rely on blitzes as their effective means of pressuring the QB. Dallas has an opportunity to read those blitzes and burn them.

5. Watch for cutback lanes, run counters. Chicago's defensive line can be blocked in one direction easily enough, sometimes their own quick pursuit takes them out of plays. If DeMarco Murray keeps his eyes peeled for the cutback, he could go off. Running counter plays or straight off-tackles with Murray looking for the cutback should be profitable.

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