Narrative Of The Game
A lot of strange things happened in the Seahawks' first two weeks. Seattle had several changes on defense to go along with Kam Chancellor's holdout, and that left many questions everywhere. However, oddly, because Jimmy Clausen was to start at quarterback this week for Chicago, just about every fan -- myself included -- was punching the win column for this one. There was no real conversation of the team's problems heading in to the game.
Because of a ridiculous mistake by me, I lost most of my notes on this game and so there are only five plays highlighted so I could make the Wednesday deadline. I still know some the plays that are missing and so I will be doing a little more narrative talk in this piece outside of just highlighting play results and breaking down the mechanics.
[First Quarter 10:00 1st and 10 Run up the middle by Forte for 5 yards tackled by Michael Bennett.]
The biggest problem for this defense has been its linebacker corps and defensive line being out of sync on the run. In this heavy-personnel goaline-style set by the Bears, Seattle matches up with it the best they can, but as Bobby Wagner settles in to battle the fullback, no one fills and follows Forte. Too many times runners have had big cutback lanes provided because the linebackers are not necessarily on the same page.
Another note from a missing play: I have been holding Ahtyba Rubin to a ridiculous standard versus the run. I've seen him moved a few times, and he struggles against double teams, but as an immediate critique of his game, I'd been disappointed to the point of saying he saying he sucks. This is irrational knee jerk, and not how I do things. For anyone that follows me on twitter, I'd like to apologize for misleading you on this. He's been better than Alan Branch was, and is slightly less consistent than Tony McDaniel. The linebackers need to step their game up and later in the game they do.
The Seahawks quickly took Chancellor out of the game after this series, where he played some of his "death backer" stuff. He didn't look in sync and took a few poor angles. (No surprise). After this, he'd see duty on 3rd downs and wouldn't return to the combat zone (two to three yards of the line of scrimmage) save for very specific downs. DeShawn Shead played some there. Kam played there on a pair of 3rd and short plays on the edge and was not really a factor in stopping too many plays.
[Second Quarter 8:41 3rd and 5 Jimmy Clausen pass intended for the fifth row is intercepted by the Seahawks sideline.]
A quick thing you'll notice about Jimmy Clauses passes, is almost all of them were completed -- save for one to Zach Miller -- with the receivers turning their chests back toward him, thus providing him with the biggest possible target to hit. I like to imagine Clausen is legally blind and this helps him.
The play came after a timeout and Kris Richard dials up a really neat blitz with Wagner and Wright, who stack and rush the right side A gap. Jimmy flushes out of the pocket, and finds his buddy sideline. It's at this point that the defense really settles in.
KJ Wright lost Miller on a simple corner pattern in man coverage. He straight up lost, and was about 3 strides behind by the time Clausen unloaded the ball. I've never questioned his capability in coverage before last year's Super Bowl, and this seems to be a continuing theme this season with him - just losing one on one match-ups absolutely no contest.
[Third Quarter 13:38 3rd and 8 Jimmy Clausen sacked by Bobby Wagner for -9 yards]
Bobby Wagner and KJ show the same blitz as above at first. Matt Forte, who looks like he wants to chip and then leak out, is left with KJ saying hello as he blitzes right in behind Wagner and walks in on the concept. Everything here looks like the first blitz from earlier, so much so that it confused me until I watched Jennifer's fantastic GIF a few times. It's a nice way to deny an easy answer for Clausen. Love the call here.
[Third Quarter 3:17 3rd and 1 Run up the middle for no gain by Matt Forte tackled by Frank Clark.]
The Bears choose a really weird play to run here, pulling a guard on what looks like a dive trap concept. This means Frank Clark -- who is getting blocked down by the edge instead of swung out away from the play (Which you'd normally want to do in a dive concept) -- is now able to bang free and wrap up Forte for no gain. This guy's knack in space or compressed line schemes stands out.
Frank had a rush on a 3rd and 8 where the tackle pushed him wide, but Clark barely felt the push and immediately tightened down his rush, causing Clausen to panic and step into a weird chuck that went nowhere. I'd like to see Frank on more true pass rush downs. He has a stunning amount of natural feel for rushing that makes me drool like an idiot.
[Fourth Quarter 5:43 2nd and 9 Jimmy Clausen sacked by Cliff Avril for -6]
No one is more fun to watch at the second a sack happens as Cliff Avril. As sexy (can pass rushes be sexy?) as Michael Bennett can be slashing into the backfield for a sack, he doesn't have that same knack for the sack fumble as Avril. I know I can't be the only guy who has his heart jump as I realize the QB has no idea Cliff is coming and probably gonna pick his pocket. Cliff Avril does Cliff Avril things and I love it so much.
Overview Of The game:
This was, save a few tense drives when the offense struggled, the performance we all expected. At one point, there was a span of 16 plays which netted 13 total yards for the Bears offense. People that thought Clausen was going to be allowed to throw, and risk game altering picks like his 2010 performance were, like me, left a little bit sad. I thought Kris Richard called a nice game, and his pressures -- dialed up in the right moments-- left the Bears with no chance to answer them.
Player Of The Game:
The man from Penn State continued where his last season left off. His tackles for loss effectively ended drives twice for the Bears, who had no margin for error. He also gets the nod for filling in a more fulltime role after Mebane's unfortunate injury exit. How this kid shakes out in this role while Mebane heals up will say a lot for the future, as Mebane could possibly move on at the conclusion of his 9tth NFL season as a Seahawk.
For the price tag, that linebacker corps had gotta start controlling more, and I am focused on Wagner with his new contract. I had him pegged as my Hawks player mostly likely to challenge for Defensive Player Of The Year. Three weeks in and he's hardly been the game changer that would warrant candidacy for the award.
I will at least cover next week's game before returning to my personal project again. Thanks for letting me take a break by writing about football for you.
Thanks to Jennifer Chen for the GIFs!