I watched the game live earlier, but Tivo'd it and decided to take a look back at our 1st half defensive snaps. After looking closer, there was one particular play that made me giddier than a schoolgirl on the first day of class.
I am going to break down this play as I see it. Please keep in mind that this comes from a guy with limited knowledge and background in the sport, but has watched a good amount of sports in general and likes to see the inner workings of what makes a team/sport tick. I hope that some of you (HT, BB, SWG possibly) have the game Tivo'd as well and can go back and watch the play and add/revise my findings. I will try not to get too convoluted here, but if I do, bear with me. OK, let's dive in like Dawkins!
The camera cuts to the play with 1:03 left in the first quarter. The Bears are looking at 3rd & 9 from our 24.
Da Bears line up with 5 offensive linemen, 1 tight end to the right (strong) side, 2 wide receivers to the left and in tight to the left tackle, 1 wide receiver to the right out wide, Cutler in shotgun with Forte (the RB) to his right.
Our Defensive alignment:
We come out with our nickel package (5 defensive backs), common practice for this down and distance to match up with the 3 WRs. We have 3 down linemen on the field - Reid at left defensive end, Peterson at nose tackle, and Doom at right defensive end. 3 linebackers - Ayers, DJ Williams, and Wesley Woodyard. Our 5 defensive backs consist of Champ on the left, Goodman on the right, and Alphonso Smith as the nickel on the right, matched up with the 3rd wide receiver lined up on that side. Dawkins and Hill are the safeties.
This is where things get complicated (in the goodest of good ways). At around the 1:03 mark, the offensive line is getting set and the Bears are ready to snap the ball with the ball eventually being snapped at the :54 second mark. Now, starting at the 1:03 mark, I can see 8 of our guys milling around in the box, either at the line or at the second level, close enough to the line to be a pass rush/blitz threat. About 3 seconds before the snap, the linebackers move from one gap to another, noone but the down linemen are standing still. Looking closer, Woodyard is standing to the left of Reid at right defensive end at the line, starts moving to his right at about the :57 mark, and ends up between Peterson (the NT) and Reid (LDE) when the snap comes at :54. DJ starts more towards the middle and ends up between to the right of Doom at LDE when the snap comes. And Ayers starts between Peterson at the nose and Doom at RDE. Dawkins and Hill approach the line and switch places leading up to the snap.
Let's start by looking at what the Bears play was. One of the wide receivers on the left takes off straight and goes deep, one rubs Doom and releases to the left flat. The right WR (Hester) is covered by Champ and runs a straight ahead route I can't see all of. The tight end releases off the line and runs a short route to the right flat, while the RB (Forte) hesitates in the pocket waiting to pick up a blitzer, when that blitzer doesn't come he runs between the right guard and right tackle on a short button route.
Now we can see what the Broncos did on the play... they had 8 men in the box as potential blitzing threats before and at the snap. We ended up rushing 3, the 3 being the down linemen. The other 5 that were close to the line (the 3 backers and the two safeties, Ayers, WW, DJ, Hill, Dawkins) dropped into coverage.
Peterson faces a triple team by the offensive line and is stood up, Reid gets slight pressure with his one-on-one rush. Doom takes on Orlando Pace and beats him to the outside, pressuring Cutler into his throw and knocking him down afterwards. Cutler completes a short pass to Forte (RB) while Ayers steps up from his zone in the coverage and makes a good tackle. The Bears get a 1 yard gain and face 4th & 8, and kick the field goal.
Why I love it:
Confusion. The system Nolan has put in place creates anywhere from 3 to 84 times more confusion for opposing offenses than anything we were capable of last year. Having 8 guys in the box milling around aimlessly (seemingly) prior to the snap causes mass confusion for the O-line, they have no idea who is blitzing, who is dropping into coverage, what angles the rushers will take, etc... Seeing the play reminds me of things the Ravens and Steelers do on defense, and I am absolutely, positivelely pumped about it.
So there it is, I hope the breakdown isn't a complete quagmire. I realize the play is hard to envision without having a picture of it. So, if anyone (I've seen HT add them to their posts) wants to put together a little sketch of it I would love to put it on the post so it might clear it up a bit. Or, if someone can tell me which program and format I would need to add a picture to the post, I would do it myself. The only program I have that might work is Paint, any suggestions? And again, I look forward to everyone jumping in and adding things I missed or correcting me on things I messed up.
Hope y'all enjoyed it!