Sometimes the difference between an explosive play and one that goes for no gain can be pinpointed to one individual out of 11 not doing their job.
It all comes down to execution — something that Bears head coach Matt Eberflus constantly brings up in his weekly press conferences.
In the 12-10 victory against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football, the Bears defense had its best overall execution of the season. They limited the Vikings to 242 yards of total offense, Joshua Dobbs threw four interceptions and Minnesota went just 2 of 9 on third down.
It was a defensive clinic that had plenty of highlight caliber plays throughout the night.
There was a key play, though, that easily went overlooked.
After Justin Fields’ second fumble in the fourth quarter, the Vikings took over on the Bears’ 43-yard line, holding a 10-9 lead with 3:37 left in the game. The first play was a run to Alexander Mattison up the middle for no gain.
The second down play is the one that got away from Minnesota.
Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell highlighted the Mattison run that only gained one yard in his postgame press conference.
“They were in base defense, they loaded up the box pretty good,” O’Connell said. “Thought we had a chance on the second down play to maybe try to see if we could attack the edge. It looked a little weak over there, but they were able to turn the ball back up inside. We weren’t able to at least get it into that range where you start thinking about giving Greg (Joseph) an opportunity. …”
To help provide analysis with the second-and-10 run, I reached out to former Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long and he provided an in-depth explanation on why the Vikings were unsuccessful on this play.
The Vikings are lined up in 13 personnel (one running back and three tight ends), and the Bears are in their base 4-3 defense. Justin Jones ends up making the play and tackling Mattison for just a 1-yard gain.
In this run zone scheme concept, left guard Dalton Risner originally has a 3-tech to his left, which is Jones.
Jones then reduces down to a 2i once wide receiver Jordan Addison motions down, making the Bears’ defensive lineman Risner’s responsibility.
Once Risner takes too big of an angle on Jones, the Bears’ defensive lineman falls back and returns to his 3-tech alignment.
This is where the left tackle Christain Darrisaw (No. 71) comes into play, accoding to Long. Darrisaw was originally on a B block, which is a two-man zone on the original 3-tech to the linebacker, and that is Tremaine Edmunds.
After Addison’s motion, Jones went to a 2i, so the combo for the guard and tackle is off. Long mentioned now it’s up to Darrisaw to go flat down the line as fast as he can to Jones on his way to Edmunds.
Since Jones after the snap went from his 2i alignment back to a 3-tech, Risner continues on his zone. The No. 1 rule according to Long is don’t turn back. So Darrisaw has to see that on his flat path and takeover the returning 3-tech.
Darrisaw didn’t take a good enough angle and his collision with Jones ricocheted the Bears’ defensive tackle into making a play on the running back.
The Bears then made a tackle for loss on third down and forced the Vikings to punt. Then Fields took the Bears offense down the field for the game-winning field goal.
Football is the ultimate team game, and this one rep highlights how just one player not executing their assignment can create a negative impact. Although it gets repetitive hearing Eberflus always mention the word “execution” during his press conferences, he does so because he understands the difference it can make on any given play.
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