Same trait that cost Bears vs. 49ers might help them bounce back
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org November 24, 2012 1:46AM
Rod Marinelli Defensive coordinator If there’s any coach that should be retained first, it’s Marinelli. His motivational techniques work very well with the current players, and his understanding of the Bears’ scheme is irreplaceable.
When a playoff-caliber team gets embarrassed the way the Bears were last week against the 49ers, the last thing they want to do is admit they got snookered.
‘‘They kind of just ran the plays they run,’’ defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said when asked how the 49ers neutralized the Bears’ defensive front.
‘‘Nothing new,’’ wide receiver Brandon Marshall said when asked how the 49ers held him to two receptions for 24 yards and a touchdown. ‘‘Just the same defenses we’ve seen all year.’’
‘‘They didn’t do anything we hadn’t seen,’’ center Roberto Garza said when asked how the 49ers’ defensive line so thoroughly thrashed the Bears’ offensive line that two Bears starters were benched. ‘‘We just have to block.’’
That’s no less disconcerting, of course. If the 15th-ranked scoring offense in the NFL can just ‘‘run the plays they run’’ and shut down the engine that makes the Bears’ defense go, what hope is there that the Bears can avoid teams that execute in the playoffs?
If a ‘‘two-man’’ pass defense is all it takes to silence Marshall and shut down the Bears’ offense — as the Packers and now the 49ers have done — what are the odds the Bears will avoid facing a team in the postseaon that doesn’t watch film?
If the most fundamental skill in offensive football — blocking — is that problematic, isn’t it likely the Bears are going to run into a team in the playoffs that also needs to be blocked? Shouldn’t they have that blocking thing down by now?
It might have been better if the Bears had acknowledged that the 49ers used techniques and formations and concocted game plans they never had seen and that they were burned by a quarterback they weren’t expecting. The element of surprise is hardly a noble explanation for a loss. But it beats the we-got-our-butts-kicked explanation.
While the offensive meltdown received most of the attention this week, the defensive breakdown can’t be ignored because the 49ers exposed the Bears’ Achilles heel like no team has by nullifying their interior pressure.
It’s not a coincidence tackle Henry Melton was shut out for the first time this season — no tackles, no pressures, no forced fumbles, nothing — and the secondary struggled to cover and tackle.
‘‘They’re a good ‘wham’ team,’’ Marinelli said. ‘‘Run some traps, angle blocking, and they did a nice job of stretching us out. They’re constantly changing personnel, and they executed very, very well.’’
But the 49ers didn’t just do what they do well.
‘‘It was kind of like what the Texans did,’’ Melton said. ‘‘There was a lot of boot, a lot of play-action. They were throwing a lot of things at our ends and keeping guys inside, chipping. They were doing a lot of things the Texans did that worked on us.’’
On the other hand, few teams block and tackle as well as the 49ers. So others can copy the formula, but it won’t have quite the potency. That’s a theory, anyway.
‘‘We see the corrections we can make,’’ Marinelli said. ‘‘We go through it, re-teach it, fit it up, then we’ve got to go play fast with it — beat blocks, get off blocks, all those basic things.
‘‘They’ve got tremendous pride. If [anyone’s] going to bounce back, it’s these guys. We’ll bounce back. That’s what we do.’’