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Notes from the Bears First Scoring Drive

Hybrid format this week: notes, but in smaller chunks so I can post more frequently.

Funny how bad this opening drive felt and how quickly I forgot it after the win. Matt Forte rushed for 11 yards all game and nine of those yards were achieved on three carries in the Bears opening drive. Over the last few seasons, when opponents abandoned the run, it was bad news for the Seahawks. Jay Cutler's 17 completions on 45 drop backs, including six sacks, changed that trend, or, at least, interrupted it. I don't think I have seen a quarterback as rattled as Cutler in a very long time. His panic and shuffling surmounted even Seneca Wallace's do si do at Indy in 2009.

Which, well, either means Seattle has turned a corner as a pass rush and can pressure quarterbacks into errant passes and bad decisions, or, Cutler is broken. Nine sacks in 20 drop backs in a game ended prematurely by a career threatening concussion can do that.

  • Chicago started the game running at Seattle's strong side. Memo to the league: This doesn't work. In the mess of blue beating back black, Kentwan Balmer cut in and tackled. I know there's only so much an opponent can do to avoid Red Bryant, Aaron Curry and Lawyer Milloy, but rushing at the Seahawks strong side ain't no teenage suicide. It's guaranteed death.
  • Then Roy Lewis committed pass interference on a play in which Devin Hester seemingly had no clue where the ball was. It wasn't incidental contact per the rule book, but it was accidental interference and, as mistakes go, more damaging than damning of Lewis.
  • Chicago effectively ran off the Seahawks coverage and that opened space for a screen pass to Forte. If more than one blocker was able to pull in front, Forte probably could have walked in. Lofa Tatupu nullified the lone lead blocker, which is a flattering way of saying that Tatupu was blocked out of the play, and Earl Thomas and Marcus Trufant closed for the tackle.
  • The three yard run isn't really worth mentioning, just a pushed pile and a plunging rusher, but the following six yard run for a touchdown deserves a little piecing apart.
  • Chicago spreads Seattle out. The Seahawks need to find solution for this, because this isn't the first goal line stand that's crumbled because a defense spread Seattle out and then rushed up the gut.
  • The Seahawks flip the Leo pre-snap and align with the muscle on the right and the speed on the left. Basic Leo 3-4 set up, but a bit more drastic and noticeably so, because the Bears have second and goal from the Seahawks six yard line.
  • Seattle sets with three down linemen: Colin Cole over nose, Balmer to his left over the right guard and Bryant at left defensive end. It's pretty obvious where the weak point of this configuration is. There's three big bodies from center to right tackle and no one playing over left guard. Olin Kreutz and Chris Williams double Cole and knock him back and Williams peals off to block David Hawthorne. That tears out the center and knocks out the weakside linebacker and isolates Tatupu against Forte. Tats tries to wrap but Forte fights through and plunges in for the score.

You'd think, seeing plays like this, that Chicago could have succeeded rushing the football, but following the first quarter, the Bears attempted only five more designed runs. Five more runs and seven passes listed as "deep." Not that I'm new to Mike Martz's wacky proclivities, but that's less impractical and more insane. There was a time when Martz seemed like a radical, a sane man in a world of insane play calling, but the world changes and radicals rarely age well.