Film study: Screen calls, Cody Whitehair stand out against the Browns
Thoughts and observations after watching the film of the Bears’ 20-3 win against the Browns in Week 16:
Success through change
As expected, Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams came after rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky with different blitzes and pressures.
During the Bears’ two-minute drill at the end of the first half, Williams blitzed on seven consecutive plays. That included sending seven rushers after Trubisky on third-and-10 from the 50-yard line. It resulted in a sack that was shared by linebacker Joe Schobert and cornerback Jamar Taylor.
To combat the blitzes in the second half, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains called screen plays for third-down back Benny Cunningham that weren’t featured in the first two quarters.
The Browns blitzed on the plays that resulted in 40- and 22-yard receptions for Cunningham. Both plays were screens on third downs.
It changed Williams’ approach later in the third quarter. He didn’t blitz Trubisky when the Bears had their third third down of the quarter after their successful screens on the first two.
The Browns rushed four on third-and-eight from their own 35. With time, Trubisky beat them by finding slot receiver Kendall Wright on a crossing route for an 11-yard gain underneath the zone coverage of the Browns’ linebackers.
“They have a really good pressure package,” Trubisky said. “They get to the quarterback really well and disguise [coverage] really well on the back end. That’s what we wanted to do, just offset it with the screens. We hit them with a couple of big ones, and that was big for us.”
Line stands strong
The Bears’ reshuffled offensive line deserves special mention for its performance, especially with center Cody Whitehair moved to guard and Bradley Sowell and Hroniss Grasu starting at left guard and center, respectively.
To make matters more complicated, Bobby Massie got rolled up on running back Jordan Howard’s first touchdown run in the first quarter and played through a knee injury.
Howard gained only 44 yards on 22 carries against a Browns defense that was ranked seventh against the run entering the game. But the Bears’ linemen made plays when it counted, starting with Whitehair.
He handled defensive tackle Danny Shelton on Howard’s two-yard touchdown, linebacker James Burgess Jr. on Howard’s 16-yard score and defensive tackle Trevon Coley on Trubisky’s four-yard touchdown run.
Taking a sack
Not all sacks are created equal. Some are good plays. The Browns’ first three sacks of Trubisky came on blitzes. But the final one was a good decision by Trubisky.
On third-and-11 at the Bears’ 17 early in the fourth quarter, Schobert snuffed out a screen play to running back Tarik Cohen to the left of Trubisky. With the play ruined, Trubisky scrambled to his right and eventually slid. Burgess Jr. was credited with a sack.
It was a negative play but one that Trubisky likely will receive a positive grade for from his coaches.
Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns.