Game plan: Penetrate Atlanta's O-Line

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Game plan: Penetrate Atlanta's O-Line

Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011
Posted: 11:00 p.m.

By JohnMullin
CSNChicago.com BearsInsider Follow@CSNMoonMullin
Chris Harris wasnt in the mood for a scary movie when he put in the video of the Atlanta Falcons offense. But thats what he got.

It wasnt Matt Ryan passing to Tony Gonzalez or Roddy White, all three of them Pro Bowl selections and the kinds of individuals that cost secondaries, even a veteran safety, good nights sleep. It wasnt just Michael Turner running his way into the Pro Bowl.

It was the big guys bearing down on and picking on little people. Like veteran safeties.

We put on the tape and the first thing we notice is their offensive linemen 10, 12 15 yards downfield, Harris said, shaking his head. Last season and even in preseason, their line plays hard, very aggressive, and they finish blocks.

Curiously perhaps, the Falcons have not run the ball all that well against the Bears, who have never beaten them since Ryan arrived. But the Falcons may in fact be a case study supporting the kind of offensive game planning that worked for the Bears over the final nine regular-season games of 2010.

And that smash-mouth approach to running the football that was the first thing Harris thought of when talking about the Atlanta offense that ranked No. 5 in scoring.

The Bears have never sacked Ryan in the two games against the former No. 3 pick of the 2008 draft. Part of the reason: The Falcons have turned those offensive linemen loose, 30 times (vs. 30 pass plays) in the 22-20 win in 2008, 23 times (vs. 33 passes) in 2009. If you want to protect the passer, make pass rushers think about the run, and the Bears have.

They run the ball and obviously Matt Ryan is becoming an elite quarterback in this league, Harris said. Hes got the arm, hes a smart guy, and hes smart enough to get it out of his hands and to his playmakers. Theyve been a good running team and now have good skill position players just about everywhere.

The Bears virtually owned the Falcons when Michael Vick ran, literally, the Atlanta offense. In the three Bears-Falcons games of the Vick years, the Falcons scored 3 points twice and 13 once. They have scored 22 and 21 in the two Ryan games.

If it starts up front for the Falcons, it does as well for the Bears on defense, where unprovens Mario Addison and Nick Reed, at 248 and 252 pounds, were kept on the defensive-end depth chart because of their pass rushing. Whether either, if active, can stand up to offensive linemen who consistently get downfield to second and third levels, remains to be seen.

I see a lot of guys that can play, that fill our system, said defensive end Julius Peppers. We have explosive and quick guys, that's what we try and have up front. We're not necessarily big guys, heavy guys, so I see all the guys that we have fit into the system.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Alshon Jeffery spurned ESPN's Adam Schefter after getting free agent contract advice

Alshon Jeffery spurned ESPN's Adam Schefter after getting free agent contract advice

This is an enlightening glimpse into the craziness that is the world of NFL free agency.

The MMQB published a longform recap of 24 hours in the life of ESPN's Adam Schefter at the start of NFL free agency and apparently it also included a moment where he advised Alshon Jeffery on the receiver's contract situation.

[RELATED - Bears free agency analysis]

Before Jeffery signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, the former Bears wideout called Schefter to see what the market was like for receivers:

But here's the kicker:

The MMQB circled back on the news later and Jeffery never called Schefter back, instead giving the news to Schefter's ESPN colleague Josina Anderson to break about the Eagles deal.

[Buy Chicago sports tickets]

That's cold, bro.

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

6'2" | 225 lbs.

2016 stats:

5,052 YDS, 65.7 CMP%, 41 TD, 10 INT, 157 QBR | 131 CAR, 285 YDS, 12 TD

Projection:

First round

Scouting Report:

"Mahomes is a big, confident quarterback who brings a variety of physical tools to the party, but he's developed some bad habits and doesn't have a very repeatable process as a passer. Mahomes' ability to improvise and extend plays can lead to big plays for his offense, but he will have to prove he can operate with better anticipation and be willing to take what the defense gives him in order to win from the pocket. Mahomes will be a work in progress, but he's a high ceiling, low floor prospect." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Video analysis provided by Rotoworld and NBC Sports NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles