Monday night treated us to a game that was loved by all of us that appreciate the art of good defense. It had fumbles, interceptions, hell… there was even almost a safety at one point. Oh, and I would be remiss not to point out the share of fun defensive formations that this game presented to us. While a huge chunk of the big plays from this game were defensive, there were some nice offensive moments that I would love to analyze as well. So without further ado, let's check out what went down at FedEx Field between these two teams:
The Bears came into Monday night’s matchup making it clear that they intended on throwing the ball more than running- more than likely to get Mitch Trubisky’s confidence rising against a shaky secondary. They lined up in the shotgun on roughly 74% of their snaps. This allowed Trubisky to either get the throws out quickly on a play action or also move out of the pocket when he needed to make a longer throw (which he has noted that he prefers). The Bears main point of attack was putting three receivers on one side of the field,
or stacking receivers in gun formations and either running out of it or throwing some type of short play-action motion to confuse the defense.
This surely has a lot to do with Nagy not completely trusting Trubisky with the deep balls. To eat at some clock, the Bears would occasionally line up in the I-form or singleback, but it sparsely compared to their use of the shotgun, obviously. The Redskins offense varied more than the Bears did, but they did still run a majority of their plays out of the shotgun. They ran gun plays on roughly 55% of their offensive snaps. A large majority of them would be with two receivers on one side of the field and then a bunched tight end as well as a single receiver on the other side.
When the Skins were not in gun formations, they tended to be in singleback just like the Bears (roughly 27% of offensive snaps),
or occasionally even emptying the backfield (13% of offensive snaps). On defense, the game plans became clear early too. The Redskins were willing to live with one less defender in the middle of the field and put five men on the line of scrimmage a majority of snaps in order to get pressure on Trubisky.
They were playing a lot of man coverage and trusting their corners and safeties to get the press they needed for a large fraction of this game. The Bears were playing extremely similar whenever the Redskins would line up looking like they were going to run. I must note that they played great even defending the pass out of these sets, trusting their secondary in man coverage just as the Skins did.
A lot of the time, the Bears defended the pass with 4-3 sets. They trusted only four rushers to get pressure and would occasionally even bring down a safety or linebacker to blitz and create pressure.
Often times utilizing only four rushers was plenty enough against the Redskins O-line in this game.
The first huge play of the game for this Bears defense was on a pretty interception from the newly acquired Bear HaHa Clinton-Dix. They run a cover-2 man on the Redskins in shotgun on 3rd & 9. Keenum overthrows his target, Trey Quinn, who is in tight coverage and the result is a 37 yard pick six.
Redskins Get Interesting
The next notable thing that happened in this game is when the Redskins pulled out some very confusing nickel sets on the Bears. It started on a 1st & 20 when they lined up with this, which oddly created a sack as the Center didn’t break down into the pocket quickly enough, as he assumed the middle linebacker was going to be coming in for pressure. They lined up with the very same set on the next play which resulted in about a 10 yard pass from the Bears. 3rd down is where things got really interesting when they pulled out a dime look that featured only two rushers on the line of scrimmage, rushing the extra linebacker in the middle to create some pressure. The goal of the set was accomplished as they forced the Bears to punt and suffocated any pass options besides the checkdown. If more D coordinators can find efficient ways to incorporate schemes like this into their gameplan, I think it could be a huge way to combat some of the leagues recent air raid offenses.
Total Loss Of Momentum
A huge moment for the Redskins came early in the 2nd quarter when Dustin Hopkins missed a 43-yard field goal attempt. In what would have made the game 7-3 and gotten the home crowd into this game. It silenced them and the offense didn’t really feel productive at all the rest of the 1st half.
The Bears pulled out a really fun formation on 1st and goal midway through the 2nd quarter- the Diamond formation.
They run straight into a stacked box as expected, but blockers hit their assignments and Patterson hits his hole. Thus, gained about five yards on the play and moved down to the 2 yard line, setting up the next big play for the Bears.
Trubisky hits Gabriel on the fake screen
The Bears pulled out a fake screen play on 2nd & goal which resulted in the touchdown to Taylor Gabriel. The entire Redskins defense bites over to the right side, at least momentarily, which is more than enough time for Gabriel to break off on his shallow cross as Trubisky hits him wide open in the inside corner of the end zone.
Mack Forces A Fumble
The Bears bring a five man rush out of the nickel to combat the Redskins in shotgun on 1st & 15. The result is Khalil Mack getting instant outside leverage on his tackle, which allows him to get right to Case Keenum and knock the ball swiftly out of his hands. It really was a beautiful defensive play, but all too common for Mack if we’re being completely honest here.
Bears Strike Again
Very shortly after the fumble, on a goal line man blitz from the Redskins on 4th & 1 the Bears throw a quick half-pick type of play to Taylor Gabriel out of the shotgun. This leaves him wide open off the pick, which results in his 2nd receiving touchdown on the night.