Film Study: Bears offensive line has turned into real strength
Thoughts and observations after watching the film of the Bears’ 29-23 loss against the Colts in Week 5.
In the trenches
It’s time to give the Bears’ big boys some love. Without the Bears’ offensive line, Hoyer can’t be productively efficient, running back Jordan Howard can’t run for another 100 yards and second-year receiver Cam Meredith can’t have a breakout game.
The Bears’ line – left tackle Charles Leno Jr., left guard Josh Sitton, center Cody Whitehair, right guard Kyle Long and right tackle Bobby Massie – was outstanding in Indianapolis. The interior of the line has turned into a real strength.
It helped that Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains had many quick throws and reads still planned for Hoyer. But the Bears also spread out the Colts and went five-wide often. There were individual breakdowns with Massie and Sitton each being called for holding. The Colts, though, blitzed the Bears more than a dozen times and didn’t take down Hoyer.
The line hasn’t faced elite defenses over the past three weeks, but they have developed as a unit, allowing their backup quarterback and rookie back to have success. They’ve come a long way since Week 1 when everything was in flux against a formidable Texans defense.
Hoyer has attempted 128 passes in his three starts and he’s been sacked only three times, which includes Hoyer’s trip against the Cowboys.
“The offensive line is really coming together,” Hoyer said.
Overall, the line’s athleticism is evident. Howard’s 57-yard run came behind Long, who reached the second level and blocked Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson.
The Bears’ screen game has been effective. Royal had a big gain on one call behind Leno, Sitton and Whitehair in the second quarter before he fumbled. Meredith also had a 14-yard gain in the fourth behind the same trio with Leno burying Jackson.
Coach John Fox admitted that Alshon Jeffery was open on the Bears’ failed final play. But did the Bears miss an earlier opportunity, too?
Earlier in the fourth, Hoyer overthrew Royal on a corner route in the end zone. It appeared to be an odd throw for a smallish receiver, but Hoyer did check to the play.
On the other side, Jeffery was left in single coverage against cornerback Vontae Davis. Safety Clayton Geathers was on Jeffery’s side, but he blitzed and was knocked down by Howard.
Jeffery wasn’t open — even though he did put up his arm — but he’s still Alshon Jeffery. Hoyer made a quick throw to Royal.
Hanging with Hilton
Cornerback Jacoby Glenn deserves the blame for getting beat on receiver T.Y. Hilton’s 35-yard touchdown. But Hilton excelled against everyone.
The Bears didn’t shadow him. He made receptions against Tracy Porter, Bryce Callahan and Cra’Von LeBlanc. Hilton also exploited zone coverage.
Some of Hilton’s longest receptions – 31- and 20-yard gains late in the second – came when quarterback Andrew Luck bought more time.