Posts Tagged ‘Greg Olsen’

Bears Offer Blue Print To Attack the 3-4 Defense

September 2, 2009

The current NFL fad that seems to have taken hold around the league is the 3-4 defense. With the recent success that the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots have had with the scheme, in a league of imitators, there is a lot of new teams running the scheme.

It also just so happens, that the Bears start the season against two 3-4 defensive scheme teams in the Packers and the Steelers. Both teams are early pre-season contenders for the playoffs, with the Steelers being defending Super Bowl champions and having one of the most dominant defenses in the league.

With this in mind what is the best way for the Bears to deal with the 3-4 defense? Fortunately the Bears likely have the best way to match up with a 3-4 right away and the versatility this offensive scheme offers is invaluable in attacking the 3-4. The two tight end set is ideal for attacking the 3-4 defense, as was shown in early returns against Broncos.

Yes the Broncos don’t have the ideal personnel to run the 3-4, but it does force the Bears to scheme for it. This is what the Bears were able to do with ease and they were effective in both running and passing against the defensive front. The Broncos tended to attack with a five man front against the Bears on rushing situations. The Bears attacked it well with the two-TE set. Olsen and Clark were able to take on the OLBs who they match up well with, and this allowed the Bears to double team the nose tackle.

As everyone knows the engine that makes a 3-4 successful is the NT. He needs to be able to square up on the center, and he’s responsible for two gaps on the defense. If you get a good double team block on him, usually you can negate his effectiveness. Even if it’s only an initial scrape block so that the center or guard can move on to the second level and attack a linebacker it gives the offense the advantage.

One of the main advantages is the versatility the TEs offer. They can attack the OLBs (which is the second key to the 3-4) in the run game, block them straight up in the pass game, or they can sprint out in passing game off of play-action fakes. Evidence the play-action pass to Desmond Clark that went for 25-yards on a third and one play. During that play the linebacker cheated up to stop the run, lined up head up on Clark. Clark threw a little scrape block and then took off on his route. Jay Cutler rolled out of the pocket away from where the lineman took their play-action run block steps to and negated the pass rush. From here it was a simple pass to a wide open Clark that just broke the back of the Broncos.

Since a two TE set also allows the offense to to dictate the game plan to the defense and make them adjust, it puts the offense at a consistent advantage. By utilizing the versatility of a two TE set the Bears can attack with two double teams on the NT and then one of the DEs or elsewhere.

Also the Bears don’t have to keep the two TEs lined up head up on the LBs, one of them can line up in the FB spot thus still giving them a different formation look. Either way the key here is negating the 3-4s versatility and forcing them to react to your set.

The Bears are able to do this better than any team in the NFL with their high versatile TEs. The question is when Desmond Clark gets long in the tooth do the Bears draft another TE that offers as much versatility? Do they keep the two TE set around with Olsen grooming his eventual replacement? I believe so long as the Bears are able to show consistent success against the 3-4 front with the two TE set they should continue to take advantage of it.

Advertisements

Defense Dominates as the Bears Win 17-3

August 22, 2009

The Chicago bears looked like they were in dominant mid-season form. The offense looked as good as it did in the early stages of 2006 when the Bears made their Super Bowl run. Nearly 300-yards of total offense, a 92-yard touchdown scoring drive, big runs from Matt Forte including a big touchdown run. Complete destruction of a Giants team that is a Super Bowl contender out of the NFC.

Yes we need to reel it in and realize it’s only the pre-season but the flashes of excellence are there by the starters. Both offensively and defensively the Bears stepped up and made plays. Their execution was top notch with only a few shaky plays here and there in what was overall something that made the Bears look like a Super Bowl contender.

If there was a way for the Bears to play like this against for 18-games this team will not lose a lot of games. Sure they had some trouble tackling the big Brandon Jacobs, but they swarmed to the football and stopped the Giants cold.

Some brief criticisms would be Devin Hester misjudging a deep pass, one questionable pass by Cutler on a slant and Frank Omiyale missing a major block on a linebacker that led to a run only gaining one yard.

On the flip side Hester did make plays, Cutler made great throws and was able to use his athleticism to roll out and make throws and Omiyale made a big block later on that sprung Forte for a touchdown. On defense Urlacher had trouble squaring up on Brandon Jacobs, but later dropped him for a loss once he got low on him. Kevin Payne made a huge pass break up on a third and long and pressure come consistenly from the defensive line. Alex Brown caused a fumble, and Adewale Ogunleye got a sack.

If this is a sign of things to come the Windy City will be buzzing with excitement well into January 2010.

The second half was more of the same for the Chicago Bears, at least on defense. The offense didn’t get anymore points on the board but they did play well. Caleb Hanie solidified himself as the backup to Jay Cutler.

The defense all the way around dominated the New York Giants getting consistent pressure on their QBs. Whether it was Mark Anderson or Henry Melton the Bears got after the QB. If you were to point to an example of Rod Marinelli’s influence it would be tonight in this game for four quarters the line played and played hard.

Dusty Dvoracek stood out and made plays in a game he likely needs to stake his spot on the roster and did as much playing through to the whistle on one sack he made. There was just a mentality on the defensive line that had been lacking for the past two seasons that is back in full effect now.

The defense finished with five sacks on the night, but that doesn’t even begin to cover the amount of carnarge the “rushmen” caused in the backfield. Time after time Giants QBs had lineman in their face and were unable to set their feet or make even a good throw to their receivers. Knockdowns, pressure, QBs with happy feet it was just an all around exciting game.

Overall this is the type of game the fans of the Monsters of the Midway have been waiting to see, and must be happy to witness. Optimism will only get stronger after tonight as the Bears march forward to what will hopefully be a great 2009 season.

Greg Olsen Set For Pro Bowl Season

August 4, 2009

The Bears drafted Greg Olsen with the 31st pick in the NFL draft in 2007, they did so because he fell to them. He was a talent that should have gone earlier but he fell all the way to the Bears. It was a no brainer to snatch up this 6-foot-5 260-pound 4.5 40-yard dash athlete. Olsen was the highest rated TE in the draft and his ceiling unlimited.

While Olsen hasn’t become the instant star in his first two years in the league it is safe to say that he will be in 2009. Olsen’s camp to this point has been phenomenal. He was named the “starter” early in camp and deservedly so. Although the term starter doesn’t really mean much because it only means the “starter” plays the first snap of the game, Olsen is clearly the best TE on the team.

He is a special talent on a level that few TEs in the league achieve. He makes all sorts of catches and is a nightmare of a match up for both LBs and safeties. His size is the major match up problem for for safeties and his speed and athleticism is a match up nightmare for the linebackers in the league.

Now in his third year it’s apparent that Olsen is extremely comfortable in his element. Plus with the addition of some guy by the name of Jay Cutler in a trade that received some attention during the off-season he has a QB that can I think get him the ball. Olsen can make any catch out there and he seems to make those catches with ease. He can make the leaping grab over the defender as he has during camp, he can lay out make a grab, he can go up between defenders in double coverage and win that battle as well.

To say that the expectations are high for Olsen may be an understatement. He will likely be Cutler’s number one target and could easily lead the team in receptions. He can be the number one receiver that helps the Bears win a lot of games and he takes the pressure off of the younger players. With Devin Hester’s speed on the outside it opens up things in the middle of the defense for Olsen to work. The Bears’ offense will take huge advantage of Olsen as a weapon and rightfully so.

Olsen is an absolute beast with the only knock on his game being his blocking. But there are not a lot of TEs that offer both superb blocking ability and catching ability. That combination is rare and in Olsen’s case may come with more time. Even if it doesn’t his value in the passing game is immeasurable.

Olsen was a solid performer last year with 54 receptions for 574 yards. Solid numbers for a TE, but you can count on Olsen’s numbers to go up this year. Exactly how much I can’t predict but it will be enough to land him among the most productive TEs in the league.

For more in-depth discussion on the Chicago Bears’ training camp go to Midway Illustrated

Chicago Bears Training Camp Day 2

August 1, 2009

By all accounts coming out of Bourbonnais today’s first practice in pads went well for the Chicago Bears. No injuries to any major players although DT Matt Toeaina came up limping and later had his knee wrapped. All players who were supposed to practice were suited up and ready to go. If Toeaina’s injury is of any significance it likely spells the end of his career as a Chicago Bear.

This is good news after hearing the report that Tommie Harris was limited this morning during the workouts. His knee will likely never be 100-percent but as long as he’s taking up space in the middle of the defense and making some plays here and there I won’t complain to much. The situation with Harris is what it is.

Elsewhere along the defensive line Alex Brown uncorked a nasty bull rush on Orlando Pace in pass rush drills. Brown knocked Pace over on a fierce move that sent the future hall of famer flat on his back. Brown joked about it after practice that it shouldn’t be mentioned because “I don’t want him killing me out here tomorrow.” This type of play by Brown is typical though even against a stud like Pace. There aren’t a lot of guys that have kept Alex Brown from wreaking havoc in the backfield the past few years.

Sure we would like to see higher sack totals from Brown, but his play against the run has been invaluable and has won the Bears more than one game. Last year especially against the Eagles on the fourth and one play from the goal-line really sent a message.

Elsewhere Jay Cutler looked sharp making big throws to Greg Olsen, Devin Hester and the newly adapted Earl Bennett. Bennett is starting to show some consistency in his play on the practice field. Giving hope for the future and reason to pay close attention to him in the first pre-season game of the season.

Olsen made more than one nifty catch today and he is proving to be the go to guy for Cutler we all thought he would be. The third year in most NFL players’ careers is usually they really break out and it seems that Olsen is right in line after the first two practices to do just that. Olsen made a circus catch between Danieal Manning and Brian Urlacher in coverage.

If they were going to give out a game ball for practice today it would undoubtedly go to second year CB Zach Bowman. Bowman was making a lot of plays today, poking a way a nice reception that Devin Hester hauled in. Picking off Cutler on another pass. All around Bowman was just making solid plays today showing that he is ready to take full advantage of the opportunity he’s getting with Charles Tillman out.

Bowman made his second INT of the young camp season, and earning rave reviews from Lovie Smith two days in a row. If it keeps up Bowman could really push Nathan Vasher who struggled a bit yesterday and wasn’t mentioned at all today according to various sources. Bowman has been running with the first team defense and has been taking full advantage of it. This is very good news to hear out of the young player and shows once again that Jerry Angelo can find good defensive backs in the later rounds of the NFL draft.

Back on offense the Bears are giving Kevin Jones a lot of reps with the first team offense. Jones has slimmed down a lot and his burst of speed is back. Having a full off-season to work out and focus on getting in football playing shape versus rehabbing an injury has benefited Jones. The Bears know that they need Jones to be healthy and productive to help keep Matt Forte fresh for the stretch run. Jones getting used to running with the first team offense is a positive sign for the Bears.

Jones is also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield, same as Forte making sure that the Bears don’t lose that dimension on offense when Forte takes a seat. If Jones can even revert slightly to his old form, it will be a great coup for this offense. Cutler will help to take the load off of Forte yes, but hte best rushing teams in the NFL lately have all had two productive running backs. Just like the Bears had with Cedric Benson and Thomas Jones during the Super Bowl run. If Forte and Jones can both be productive the Bears will be in a solid position to win a lot of games.

In another positive sign for the defense Brian Urlacher picked off a Cutler pass and returned it for a touchdown. What Urlacher does in camp may not matter much to most of us considering his veteran status. However when they line up against the Packers it will be interesting to see exactly where he is at health wise and if he can be a top linebacker in the NFL going forward. There is little doubt that Urlacher is still the leader of this defense and his play will only benefit everyone around him.

Pisa Tiniosamoa and Hunter Hillenmeyer both made some nice plays today. Tiniosamoa popped Kevin Jones in a nice run between the tackles. Hillenmeyer picked off a Cutler pass showing that he is back and healthy and likely won’t give up his roster spot without a fight.

More on offense Josh Beekman continues to be the starter penciled in at LG. Beekman according to the much maligned K.C. Joyner was a solid guard for the Bears last year. Performing quite well even though it looks as though Omiyale will eventually take his place. Beekman though will not go down without a fight likely pushing ahead and making Omiyale’s job even tougher. This is the level of competition you want to see on an annual basis during training camp.

Lastly seeing the high lights of Jay Cutler throwing passes in practice is absolutely phenomenal. Sure those passes don’t count for much right now, but it’s still a thing of beauty to behold. His rocket arm and the tightness of his spiral really changes the entire mood and spectrum of this franchise. He has made solid completions to Devin Hester on more than one occasion and you can see the ease at with which Hester is able to haul in Cutler’s throws. It doesn’t matter what type of route it is whether it’s a deep pass or a pass over the middle between the zone coverage. Cutler makes all the throws makes them crisp sharp an on target.

For more in-depth discussion on the Chicago Bears’ training camp go to Midway Illustrated

Mini-Camp Position Breakdown: TEs

March 17, 2009

The only reason the Chicago Bears had an even remotely productive passing game last year was because of tight ends Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark’s level of play. They were essentially the only real threats in the passing game. They were at times under utilized but also at times completely taken out of the game.

Olsen is to date one of Jerry Angelo’s most successful first round draft picks. Which is really saying anything given the inconsistent level of player from Olsen. Why do I label Olsen as inconsistent? Because all to often last year teams were able to shut him down with their nickel back. Yes that is to say typically a CB or a safety shut Olsen down and kept him covered well enough that he wasn’t in a position to consistently be a threat within the offense. For the Chicago Bears’ offense to be successful and consistent in 2009 Greg Olsen is going to have to change that. Olsen needs to use his size to out muscle any player that is trying to make a play on the ball.

Mini-camp focus should almost primarily consist of Kevin Payne and Charles Tillman harassing Olsen on everyone of his passing routes in man to man coverage. Given Tillman’s physical play as a corner he would be the perfect guy to help develop his skills. Unfortunately neither Tillman or Payne will be participating in the mini-camp so the staff will have to find more ways to punish Olsen. The most important aspect of Olsen’s game is that he should be nearly unstoppable for a player of his size and athleticism. Olsen ran a 4.5 in the combine workout, he’s 6-foot-5 252-pounds so he should easily be dominating in this league. This will be his chance to show he’s taken his game to a new level in preparation for 2009.

Desmond Clark simply makes plays when called upon. Unfortunately Clark is not called upon all to often so his production is limited. Even though Clark is the past and Olsen the future there is still enough consistency in his game that he could be a weapon to help in the consistency in the passing game. Working both TEs into the rotation and offensive game plan at the same time should be given more consideration by Ron Turner. It adds another dimension to the offense and could give the Bears more consistency on third down.

Rookie Kellen Davis had a pretty remarkable first year. He wans’t expected to even make the team by most accounts. But he fought his way on to the team via his blocking ability and special teams play. What would be nice is Davis developing into a mildly consistent pass catching threat over the next couple of years. Davis is after all a TE that is supposed to catch passes. Though his role will never likely be on the level of Greg Olsen. Running a two TE set of the future with both Davis and Olsen being capable of blocking and catching passes would help in the even the Bears move on from the older Desmond Clark or Clark moves on wanting to seek a chance to start.