Congrats to JAB and FRESNO, CA BEAR FAN - both are headed to the Bears v. Eagles game Sunday. The decision was not easy and the entries were terrific but I went with a combination of good story and site loyalty. JAB will be bringing his eight year-old son and FRESNO his father, set to redeploy to Afghanistan in March. I'm working on a best of the submissions and it will be on the site later in the week. Special thanks StubHub! for the gift. Enjoy gentlemen.
ALSO DaBearsBlog will not be updating our Twitter account. So go follow us, jerks.
Now to football...
The Giants defense, led by Lovie Smith disciple Perry Fewell, laid the groundwork for how to play Michael Vick and the Eagles in the coming weeks. For most of the game, the Giants went to a three safety set - blitzing Antrel Rolle from Vick's strong side (the left) and leaving Kenny Phillips and Deon Grant to prevent against the Eagles best weapon: the deep toss. It was some of the most exemplary defensive coaching I've seen in a long time and it was unfortunately lost in the flurry of turnovers committed by Eli "Not Danieal" Manning and the Ahmad "Not Carrie" Bradshaw.
Do the Bears have the personnel to execute this kind of scheme? Doubtful. While the safeties have been surprisingly proficient this season, only beaten deep in those rare moments when Chris Harris seems to be napping, I don't think Major Wright is quite ready to be an every down player. (DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are not the time to find out.) Deon Grant, the Giants third safety, is a starter for about twenty-eight teams in the league. So what do the Bears do?
They can not rely on pressure from the front four and expect to keep the Eagles offense out of the end zone. Our pass rush, especially edge work from Idonije and Melton, has been vastly improving but it's too much of a risk. They need to be rigidly schemed and create pressure whenever possible. Here is my game plan to stop Michael Vick:
Step One: Keep Peppers on the Left Side
I understand that Julius Peppers has often flourished by rotating to the side he feels most comfortable on but the disparity with Vick is simply too great. When he rolls to his right, he is a middling-to-average thrower of the ball. Rolling to his left he is lethal, the league's highest rated passer and a threat to score on every play. The Giants have Tuck and Osi. The Bears don't. Their best needs to stay on the left side.
Step Two: Blitz Lance Briggs or Pisa Tinoisamoa
I'd be hesitant to blitz Brian Urlacher because Urlacher's open field speed will be critical if/when Vick evades the rush and takes off. Briggs and Pisa's closing speed to running backs and quarterbacks can be downright frightening and should force Vick into his struggle throws: short and intermediate routes. This also protects the safeties downfield.
Step Three: Hit the Shit out of Vick
When Vick scrambled out of the pocket against the Giants, the Giants made him pay and by the fourth quarter it was taking him 3-5 seconds to get off the ground with almost every hit. If Vick wants to gain yards with his legs, the Bears must crush him. We saw Vick, albeit in a Falcons uniform, moping on the sideline of a primetime Soldier Field contest a few years ago. (This was also the Rex Grossman return game.) Vick can be rattled - emotionally and physically. For now the Bears should focus on the physical.
Antrel Rolle, Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears, Chris Harris, Danieal Manning, Deon Grant, Julius Peppers, Kenny Phillips, Lance Briggs, Lovie Smith, Major Wright, Michael Vick, Perry Fewell, Philadelphia Eagles, Pisa Tinoisamoa