There was a lot of excitement in Chicago around Nick Foles taking over for Mitchell Trubisky. Foles came off the bench last week against the Falcons and fired 3 touchdown passes to lead the Bears to a come-from-behind victory, Jim McMahon style. The Bears were off to a 3-0 start and seemed to finally have someone reliable at quarterback. Unfortunately, they ran into a stone wall in the form of the Indianapolis Colts Defense.
After averaging 138 rushing yards per game through the first 3 weeks of the season, the Bears were held to just 28 against the Colts. Indianapolis controlled the line of scrimmage all game, led by defensive tackle Grover Stewart.
Focus on Stewart (#90) in the middle on the below play. Not only did he drive back the center on this outside zone, forcing the running back inside, but he also shed the block and made the tackle.
On this 3rd-and-1 in the 4th quarter, you can see that Stewart was the key defender in blowing up the play. He drove the center back, again forcing the running back inside and into the teeth of the defense.
Stewart was in the middle of just about every stuffed run on Sunday. You can see a few more examples here and here.
Because the D-line controlled the line of scrimmage all game, Colts linebackers were able to attack and plug holes quickly and freely. They played with great discipline as well, even when the Bears tried to use misdirection when nothing else was working in the running game. The Bears’ longest run of the game was a measly 6 yards. They were thoroughly dominated on the ground.
So it wasn’t like Nick Foles was getting a lot of help around him. However, in a low-scoring game where opportunities were scarce, Foles failed to take advantage of the few opportunities that did come his way.
On Chicago’s first scoring drive, it looked like Foles might have had the opportunity to hit tight end Jimmy Graham on a skinny post.
You can see that the middle linebacker jumped the underneath route, leaving the opening for Graham. And he appeared to have leverage on the deep safety to his side.
Was it wide open? No. Did Foles have a chance? Yes. And it was the type of chance you have to take against a good defense in a low-scoring game. The Bears would end up settling for 3.
Before the end of the first half, Foles missed an opportunity to keep the ball in Chicago’s hands on 3rd down. As you can see below, the post route on the outside removed the cornerback. There was no underneath coverage in the flat, leaving wide receiver Allen Robinson wide open.
Foles took a deep shot into traffic instead.
Finally, trailing by two scores in the 4th quarter, Foles misfired on an interception that all but sealed the win for the Colts.
Gotta hit that.
We’re still trying to figure out exactly who the Bears and Colts are. Both are now 3-1, and both have matchups this week that will give us a better idea of what they can be. The Bears are a defense-first team that will be tested by Tom Brady and the Buccaneers Offense. Indianapolis has been great against the run but will have to stop the NFL’s #1 rushing attack in the Cleveland Browns (possibly without Darius Leonard).
The 2nd quarter of the season is where teams start to separate and emerge. We’ll learn a lot about the Colts and Browns in Week 5.
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