Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith doesn’t like it when you call his defense simple. To refer to his defense as just a Cover 2 system always raises his ire.
“We throw different wrinkles in each week,” Smith said this week. “You don’t catch a lot of them and you (the media) don’t write about a lot of them, but we have wrinkles in always. That’s just a base part of our defense.”
One of those wrinkles against the Detroit Lions was the team’s use of the safety blitz.
“I love a safety blitz and we’ll occasionally do it. Just not maybe as much,” said Smith.
Three times during Monday Night Football the Bears sent Chris Conte as the extra rusher, a role in which he’s hardly been used to this point in his short career.
“I think the more I do it the better I’ll get at it,” Conte said. “Hopefully we keep on doing it. I like mixing it up and getting after the quarterback a little bit.”
Both Smith and Conte said the safety blitz packages are in each week’s game plan but are rarely used.
“We always have it in our game plans,” said Conte. “It just depends on the situation and if we call it and what we feel like is best. We always go into the game with the same amount of blitzes.”
Against the Lions, a team Chicago faces twice each season, the Bears decided to mix it up by being creative with their blitz packages, repeatedly sending Conte, a player Detroit surely didn’t expect to blitz. Let’s take a look at the All 22 coaches film to break down the Bears’ safety blitzes against Detroit.
The Bears show blitz with Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher in the middle, and Chris Conte on the right side. Yet none will come into the backfield. It’s a fake blitz and all three will drop into the intermediate zone.
As you see here, the Bears use two deep players and five defenders in the intermediate area, right along the first down line. Yet the front four does not get any pressure, which allows WR Calvin Johnson to clear that first level into a huge open area between the second and third levels.
Here is the end zone camera, or what QB Matthew Stafford saw on the play. Johnson is wide open with momentum. If he catches the ball, and can beat Wright in the open field, this play likely goes for a touchdown. Fortunately for the Bears, Johnson drops the pass, forcing the Lions to punt.
Chicago’s defense was lucky on this play. When you fake a safety blitz, you compromise the secondary when the pass rush can’t get to the quarterback. Break downs like this one are the main reason the Bears don’t typically bring Conte up to the line of scrimmage.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.