The Green Bay Packers got back in the win column on Sunday on the road versus the Chicago Bears, earning a much needed 28-19 win over their division rival. However, the win only increased their playoff odds from 3% to 4% with the way the rest of the games played out in week 13.
However, the run defense continues to be a big problem for the team. Some of it is due to injuries and missing Rashan Gary. Some of the problems are scheme related and others are player performance-related due to missed assignments.
Bears quarterback Justin Fields ran for a 55-yard touchdown off a zone read that was poorly played by the defense. In previous games, the Packers penny front defense was susceptible to getting gashed by opposing teams. This past weekend, and all season really, the main culprit was their 4-2 nickel front defense.
Even without the 55-yard touchdown run, the Bears still racked up 100 yards on 24 carries. Some of that is boosted by another big 24 yard run by Darrynton Evans. Fortunately the Bears were unable to rely on the running game to win it but this game shows that the Packers have had glaring issues all season that still have yet to be corrected.
Bears’ read option
The Bears were able to get chunk yardage on their read option package that Fields has been successful with this season. The best way for opposing teams to gash the Packers defense is to force the secondary to come up and make the tackle in the hole. All season long, the secondary players have been a big reason why teams can rip off big runs.
First play, 1st quarter, 2nd and 10 @ CHI 45, 3:10 remaining
The Packers sent a run blitz on third down, not a bad call with how it was schemed up. The execution was poor and Fields sprinted to a 55-yard touchdown run on a power read concept.
Power read is a read option play with a pulling blocker for the running back. The play has the added effect of influencing the defensive end, who the quarterback is reading. If the end crashes down the line of scrimmage, then the quarterback will keep. If the end stays home the quarterback can give.
The play can put the defensive front to the play side in a bind where they want that defensive end to spill or box the puller. The Packers are in their nickel front 4-2 defense with a run blitz called off the edge by Keisean Nixon (No. 25).
Since Nixon is coming off the edge right away, this allows Kingsley Enagbare (No. 55) to “wrong arm” technique and spill the puller. The gap exchange here with Nixon and Enagbare is sound up until the point where Fields jukes Nixon out of his cleats. Fields then sprinted to a 55 yard touchdown run.
Second play, 3rd quarter, 3rd and 7 @ GB 30, 5:19 remaining
This time the Packers had the edge set and sent Quay Walker as the quarterback player to force the give read with a run blitz through the B-gap.
The play call again is similar to the above play, a power read, but this time the read is the interior linebacker in the B-gap, Walker.
Preston Smith sets the edge and the blitzing defender becomes the read. This was a nice design into the blitz by former Packers passing game coordinator and quarterback coach Luke Getsy, now the offensive coordinator for the Bears. It’s safe to assume Getsy might have known a Joe Barry tendency here.
Jarran Reed (No. 90) does a decent job of squeezing the A-gap and forcing the running back to cut back to the B-gap. He was unable to shed the block but he spilled the ball carrier to the edge where safety Adrian Amos should have been. Instead, Amos overran the gap and ended up out wide with Preston Smith. There was no reason for him to be there. He needed to meet Evans in the hole.
Despite all this, the defense held strong and came up big at the end when they needed to, intercepting two Fields passes late in the fourth quarter that prevented the Bears from scoring any points to cut the lead. Those plays will be the subject of part two of this week’s defensive review.