Bears

No home-field advantage for Bears vs. Eagles?

No home-field advantage for Bears vs. Eagles?

Friday, Nov. 26, 2010
6:20 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Home field advantage. An interesting and sometimes misleading factor in athletic contests, including the Bears for 2010.

The Bears are within a last-second officials ruling vs. the Detroit Lions of being at risk of a sub-.500 home record to this point of the season. They have not finished below .500 in Soldier Field since Lovie Smiths first year (2004) and have the Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and New York Jets remaining on the home portion of their schedule.

This is not good news. The Eagles are 4-1 on the road; the Patriots are 4-2; and the Jets are 5-0.

The mid-week rains and a high-school game wont improve the sometimes-fragile state of Soldier Field turf. Both the Eagles and Bears have real speed on the offensive edges, Philadelphia with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the Bears with Devin Hester and Johnny Knox.

But as to whom a slower track favors, Do you want to talk to a defensive guy or an offensive guy, coach Lovie Smith said. Thats pretty much how it goes. Im not going to say it favors either one. You could say it favors the offense because the receivers know where they are going to cut and defensive players dont.

On the other side of the ball, its easier to take the ball away in conditions like that. I dont know if it favors either one. Both teams are going to play on the same surface.

If any conditions contribute to turnovers, whether in the form of poor footing for a quarterback, running back or receiver, the game will feature the NFLs two best at taking balls away. The Eagles are No. 1 with 26 takeaways in 2010 (19 of them interceptions) and the Bears No. 2 with 25.

Sick leave?

Philadelphia has three defensive starters listed as questionable, two of them linemen in Antonio Dixon and end Juqua Parker, neither of whom practiced Friday. Also, All-Pro cornerback Asante Samuel, leading the NFL in interceptions with seven, did not practice all week because of a hip injury and is likely to be replaced by No. 3 corner Joselio Hanson.

The Bears have zero players on their week-end injury report and while the injuries on defense may force the Eagles to make some adjustments, the injury situation does not affect the Bears planning.

It really doesnt, Lovie Smith assured. Theyll have someone out there. We know Asante has missed a couple days but we assume hell be out there and ready to go. Thats how we plan.

Hurtin D

Those injuries to the Philadelphia defense could in fact limit the effectiveness of one of the NFLs consistently solid units. Parker is No. 2 on the Eagles with five sacks and Dixon at 322 pounds has been the linchpin of the Philadelphia run defense holding opponents to just 74 rushing yards per game over the last six.

Because the Eagles have 10 players with at least one sack, it is more than evident that they do a great job of attacking your protections and making you accountable for everybody, said offensive coordinator Mike Martz. A lot of guys will blitz and with the formations sometimes that we do, you spring a guy free.

Its hard to do against these guys. Theyre very, very responsible when they blitz. They understand what theyre doing and the ramifications and where the guys are moving to. They dont make mistakes.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

NFC North standings: Bears’ division lead on life support after loss to Dolphins

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USA TODAY

NFC North standings: Bears’ division lead on life support after loss to Dolphins

A tie is all that separates the Bears from the rest of the NFC North division. Chicago’s Week 6 loss to the Miami Dolphins dropped the team to 3-2, which just barely leaves them in first place.

Because the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings tied in Week 2, they sit just behind the Bears at 3-2-1 in the division. The Week 5 bye week also kept Chicago a little bit ahead, but they’re only a game away from dropping down to third.

They still control their own destiny, but Matt Nagy will need an upset win over the New England Patriots on Sunday to maintain their leading position. The Packers are on a bye week, so they would assume first place if the Bears lose.

The Vikings take on the New York Jets for a chance to take sole possession of the NFC North crown, but Chicago is guaranteed to stay ahead of the Detroit Lions, who also have a bye week.

These early season losses are tough on a Bears team trying to grow a division lead before they take on their NFC North foes midseason. The bigger cushion they can build now, the more wiggle room they’ll have when they face the Lions, Vikings and Lions back-to-back-to-back in November.

Film review: Albert Wilson's 75-yard TD shows how Sunday was an aberration for the Bears' defense

Film review: Albert Wilson's 75-yard TD shows how Sunday was an aberration for the Bears' defense

(For a bonus film review, check out the video above of Akiem Hicks' forced fumble on the one-yard line)

When Eddie Jackson didn’t stay on top shoulder of Randall Cobb in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ season opener, there was a clear coaching point from that 75-yard backbreaking touchdown. The Bears’ defensive mantra the week after was to focus on “plastering” receivers, which this defense did a good job of over the next three weeks. 

There surely are coaching points leveled by Vic Fangio and his assistants after the Bears were carved up by Brock Osweiler and the Miami Dolphins in Sunday’s 31-28 loss in Miami. But maybe the over-arching though here is this: The Bears didn’t, during the off week, go from being one of the league’s more sure-handed tackling teams to one of the worst. 

A defense that swarmed to the ball over the first four weeks looked a step slow and frequently out of position on Sunday. The more likely explanation for that development isn’t the plot to Space Jam 3, where a group of cartoon aliens steal the athletic power of an entire defense to use for their own. More likely, it was the heat in south Florida that sapped this team’s energy over the course of a long afternoon.

In this week’s film breakdown, we’re going to look at Albert Wilson’s 75-yard touchdown, which was wildly uncharacteristic of this defense. 

Image 1: the Bears are in nickel man coverage with Wilson (red circle) lined up in the slot across from Bryce Callahan. Danny Amendola goes in motion to the boundary (green arrow), with Danny Trevathan (green arrow) following him, though safety Adrian Amos will be the guy covering the Dolphins receiver. Akiem Hicks and Jonathan Bullard are the two down linemen in the interior, with Leonard Floyd rushing from the left and Khalil Mack from the right. 

Image 2: Mack is chipped by tight end Nick O’Leary (yellow circle), with Roquan Smith (yellow arrow) responsible or covering him. Trevathan (green circle) is in space with Amos (blue circle) picking up Amendola. With Mack chipped, the Bears have three pass rushers to go against five offensive linemen. 

Image 3: There’s about 10 yards of space between Mack and Osweiler (yellow arrow) after Mack comes free of O’Leary’s chip. Trevathan (green circle) is in a good position here, with Amos (blue arrow) closing on Amendola. Wilson works into space ahead of Callahan (red arrow), while both Dolphins outside pass-catchers run go routes to clear cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Kevin Toliver II out of the play. 

Image 4: First, the white circle — Hicks had his helmet ripped off, with right tackle Jesse Davis the apparent culprit. He still manages a good pass rush against a double team that could’ve hit home, or forced Osweiler to Mack (who’s about five yards from Osweiler when the ball is released) or Floyd, had the play extended longer. Meanwhile, when the ball is released, Callahan (red arrow) and Trevathan (green arrow) are in good position to bring down Wilson, while Amos (blue arrow) is there for help if Wilson were to turn upfield to the far sideline. 

Image 5: Wilson catches the ball and goes to the far sideline, away from Callahan (red arrow) and toward Trevathan (green arrow). After O’Leary and Smith engaged, the rookie linebacker is the farthest back from the play of these three when the ball is caught. 

Image 6: Trevathan (green arrow) seems to over-commit, giving Wilson a lane toward the boundary to cut upfield. 

Image 7: Amos (blue arrow) still has a chance to bring down Wilson short of the sticks.

Image 8: Amos misses the tackle, and Trevathan is blocked by O’Leary. That leaves Jackson (yellow arrow) as the last guy who can stop Wilson from breaking this play open. 

Image 9: In missing the tackle, Amos tripped Wilson a bit, which Jackson admitted threw him off (“but that’s not an excuse for it,” he added). Wilson re-gains his balance, cuts inside, and Jackson whiffs on the tackle. 

“Probably just try to shoot my shot on the tackle instead of just guessing, just probably should have shot my shot,” Jackson said of what he felt he should’ve done differently. 

Wilson goes to the house, and the Dolphins tie the game one play after the Bears took the lead. The last image here is Wilson’s route chart from NFL Next Gen Stats, which shows just how much running he did after the catch on that play — yardage-wise, it was 71 yards, but by distance it was much further. 

“We talked about how many tackles we missed,” Jackson said. “Some of that could have really changed the momentum of the game if we would have made some of those tackles. Unfortunately, two of them resulted in big play touchdowns.”

No members of the Bears defense were willing to use the heat as an excuse, instead opting for thumb-pointing instead of blaming teammates, coaches or the sun. But there’s a good chance we look back at Week 6 in Week 10 or 11 and can say with some confidence that the Bears beat themselves more than the Dolphins did, and it’s something that hasn’t happened since. 

“We know we made mistakes, that don’t kill our confidence,” Jackson said. “That don’t kill our swagger. We know what we gotta do, we know what we gotta correct. So we come in here, we’re going to play Chicago Bears football that we’re used to playing.”