We finish our three-part series breaking down the Chicago Bears' use of the safety blitz against the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football. Let's analyze a pair of snaps in which Chris Conte blitzes off the left edge.
The defense breaks the huddle showing their base nickel set with two deep safeties. Conte and Major Wright split the field 15 yards off the ball.
Conte moves up to the line of scrimmage until he is positioned outside of the defensive end. Wright drops back an additional 10-yards into the middle of the field.
Linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher are up on the line showing blitz. At the snap, Conte and Urlacher both blitz, with Briggs dropping into the middle zone. Conte gets blocked by the running back and is unable to get pressure. Urlacher is also picked up, which gives QB Matthew Stafford the time to complete a nine-yard pass.
Wright is up on the line of scrimmage to the play's right side, while Conte is eight yards deep down the left hash mark. Conte will blitz, with Wright again dropping into the deep middle zone.
Conte (blue) is one of five rushers on this play. The Lions offensive line gives up the pressure, as they are setting up a screen pass. Urlacher (red) takes on a block at the second level but holds his ground.
Stafford drops the pass over the rush to his running back. Yet Urlacher splits two offensive linemen and drops the ball carrier for no gain.
This was a perfect play call for a blitz. When RB Joique Bell catches the pass, he has two blockers in front of him and room to run. Had Urlacher not made a great play, this would have gone for a big gain.
On both of these plays, the blitz failed to get pressure on the quarterback. The results didn't really hurt the Bears but they definitely could have. It's the risk you take when you send your free safety off the edge.
What you see throughout this series is the Bears disguising their safety blitzes. Conte and Wright move around pre-snap, which keeps Detroit's offense guessing. Chicago decided that four rushers wasn't enough for one of the best passing offenses in the league. As such, they sent Chris Conte on a number of blitzes, resulting in seven points allowed in the contest.
But what these plays also show is how a safety blitz severely compromises the secondary when the package doesn't finish. The risk involved means Conte won't likely be getting three blitz opportunities each game going forward. But don't be surprised if he continues to get occasional chances to get after the quarterback, just to keep opposing offenses on their toes.
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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.