Great post, fronted -- Kevin
Last Thursday, we all got the opportunity to watch the defense play lights out. It appeared as if the defense returned to its 2010 form. The defense allowed Chicago's offense to gain less than 200 total yards and created 4 turnovers. The Bears offense struggled to move the chains and couldn't get into a rhythm. This same defense struggled just 4 days earlier against the San Francisco 49ers. So what went differently? How did this defense change so quickly? What did Dom Capers do? In this article, I'm going to point out several things that I noticed, including Nick Perry (who didn't record a single stat in the Box Score).
The Packers starting lineup included Nick Perry at ROLB and Sam Shields at the #2 CB. It's also worth noting that Casey Heyward played the #4 CB role. Either Jarrett Bush was injured or he got a huge demotion. In the Nickel Package, rookie Jerron McMillian was the starting Strong Safety as Charles Woodson moved into the slot CB position. Perry started on the first series for the defense and played most of the 4th Quarter at LOLB. However, Erik Walden played the majority of the snaps at the LOLB.
Dom Capers drastically changed his tendency and movement with the LB's. He rotated them in and out and even moved them around on a frequent basis. Nick Perry, AJ Hawk, and DJ Smith were the only LB's that played one position. Clay Matthews, Erik Walden, and Dezman Moses played 2-3 different positions. Matthews played mostly at ROLB, but also a few snaps at LOLB and even RILB. When he moved inside, Moses got most of his reps at ROLB. Capers had a tendency to rush 5 in this formation, significantly overwhelming incumbent LT Jamarcus Webb. On a few occasions, Moses played LOLB giving Perry and Walden a chance to rest. For most of the 1st Half, Walden played LOLB and most of the blitzes were dialed up from the RILB, ROLB, and sometimes from the CB's.
In the 2nd half, Dom Capers increased the number of times he rotated his linebackers. We saw more playing time for Dezman Moses and Nick Perry at LOLB. Moses and Walden played the majority of the LOLB snaps in the 3rd Quarter, while Perry played on the first series of the 2nd Half (6th defensive series overall). In one of the few snaps that Perry played in this quarter, he applied good pressure on Cutler. With 13:50 on the clock in the 3rd Quarter, it was 3rd and 5 for the Bears. Moses was the ROLB, Worthy was the DT, Perry was the LOLB, and Matthews was the LILB playing by Perry. The Packers rushed 4 with Matthews. Perry easily beat Carimi on the outside. It forced Cutler to step up in the pocket and throw off balanced. Although Cutler completed the pass and converted the 1st down, Perry did a nice job pressuring him.
In the 4th Quarter, Jay Cutler was falling into a black hole. Things were getting out of control for Chicago. Nick Perry played most of the 4th Quarter on the 10th, 11th, and 12th defensive series of the game. Perry made his presence known here. He applied heavy pressure on Cutler especially in the 10th and 11th series. He didn't face any double teams, and he was effective when applying the speed rush on Carimi. He had several near sacks and forced Cutler to to panic. The final pressure occurred with 3:05 left on the clock in the 4th Quarter. It was 4th and 5 for Cutler and the Bears. It was Chicago's last possession. Chicago was on their 23 yard line. Mike Daniels and Philip Merling were the DT's. Clay Matthews was lining up as an ILB. Matthews and Smith cross blitzed. Casey Hayward blitzed from the slot. The Bears Offensive Line looked unprepared and Perry again beat Carimi with a speed rush. Cutler was forced to throw sooner than he hoped. Jerron McMillian intercepted Cutler down the sideline (although the play should have been ruled an incomplete pass). Game Over.