Unforeseen circumstances as a result of the devastation of Super Storm Sandy afforded me plenty of time this week to go back and re-watch Sunday’s Bears game. Obviously the offensive effort was poor, but even I get tired of ripping on players (lies).
So I decided to focus my attention on Lance Louis, who is having what I believe to be a pro-bowl type year. Louis has finally found a home at right guard this year after being shuffled around the past couple seasons due to injury and ineffectiveness. His size & athleticism are perfect for the type of pull & trap running game that OC Mike Tice prefers. It doesn’t hurt that that he’s quite thuggish either (see: http://blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/huddleup/2009/08/chicago-bears-were-aware-of-rookie-lance-louis-fight.html)
With the Bears running the ball effectively in the first quarter, I figured Louis had to be a big reason why. And he was. On the first three designed running plays from scrimmage Matt Forte gained 31 yards while LL60 put his guy on the GROUND each time. These weren’t D-tackles taking dives to create piles either. These were legit, I’m stronger than you and I’m going to maul you into the ground, blocks.
But a funny thing happened while I was watching Louis make delicious pancakes, I noticed another player consistently on the ground. Unfortunately this one was wearing a blue jersey, and no it wasn’t Kellen Davis attempting to catch passes. It was veteran center Roberto Garza.
I knew Garza was bad. I mean, how do you get called for multiple false starts as a center? They practically let you do the stanky leg and juggle the football before they even consider calling a false start on a center in today’s NFL. But with the hyper-focus, myself included, on how bad the tackles have been, the interior lineman’s performance is sometimes an after-thought.
So let’s go to the tape and see just how bad our latin-friend was:
Carolina – 13
Bears – 7
1st & 10 on the Chicago 20 following a Panthers FG
The Bears run this play multiple times each week. It’s a simple double TE set and Jay has the ability (or at least he should in a Martz-less world) to call an off tackle run with a guard pull to the play side. In this case, they run Forte to the short side of the field towards Spaeth with Louis as the pulling guard. The grab below shows who is responsible for who based on how Carolina is aligned.
After the snap, and Forte is handed the ball you can see how these responsibilities develop. LL60 gets outside on the play side backer, Spaeth turns the end, and Garza attempts to cut the backside backer. There appears to be a big hole forming.
Fast forward a few frames, and you can see Garza whiffs on his cut block. If you cut, you can’t whiff. Kuechly (Garza’s guy) ends up making the tackle after a 9 yard gain. Hard to complain about a 9 yard run on first down, and even the best centers will have trouble blocking an athletic linebacker like Kuechly in space, but this should have been a touchdown. He doesn’t need to put Kuechly on the ground, but he does need to engage him for at least a split second to allow Forte to get by him.
To show I’m not just cherry picking one missed Garza block over the course of a long football game, here are 3 more plays where his guy ends up making the tackle after Garza misses his block or simply falls down.
These were just a few of Roberto’s most glaring miscues on Sunday. Trust me, there were others.
It’s easy to spew hate at the obvious positions after an offensive performance like last week’s. But after you’re done with Webb & Carimi, make sure you have a little left in the tank for #63.