West Coast vs. Cover-2; Classics work fine


West Coast vs. Cover-2; Classics work fine

Friday, Nov. 26, 2010
11:40 a.m.
By John Mullin

There is something quietly classic about the drama-within-a-drama that will play out Sunday afternoon. And somehow Andy Reid and Lovie Smith have to be chuckling at the irony.

Both are old news, NFL style. The game has passed them by. Think of Bears-Eagles as an Old-Timers Game, coaching-wise.

Or maybe not so old.

The No. 2 scoring offense of Reids Philadelphia Eagles, at 28.4 points per game, will be matched against Smiths defensive unit that currently is tied for allowing the fewest points per game (14.6). The Reid Eagles are No. 2 in offensive yardage per game. The Smith Bears are third-stingiest, giving up 290.4 yards per game.

Yep, both of the respective schemes are pass. Out-moded. Passed over by the march of NFL time.


Remember the West Coast offense?

The Cover-2?

Well, theyre both still here. And theyre apparently not bad, either.
Covering the 2

Smith allows himself a slight smile at the idea here that this game is a fun matchup of yesterdays schemes. Hes more than entitled to that. Any number of local commentators ripped him and his scheme as being no longer workable for any number of reasons.

But a lot of those people were uninformed about what was really going on, Smith said. It ultimately is all about execution. The Eagles run a system that they believe in wholeheartedly, with good reason. And we have a defensive system that we believe in.

What is and was not always grasped was that the Bears run their Cover-2 with its deep-safety look maybe one-third of the time. But thats not even the real point of why outdated schemes like this or the West Coast offense work.

For one thing, if there is consistent, heavy pressure from the line, pretty much any defensive scheme will work to some degree. Anybody really think that the 46 was the only defensive scheme that wouldve worked with Richard Dent, Dan Hampton and William PerrySteve McMichael?

A prime directive of any scheme is to force the opponent first to even recognize what the exact look is, then to react to it. And very, very quickly, as well as without making physical or mental errors in those split seconds. You can disguise what youre doing and the offense has to react to what youre actually in after the snap, Smith says.

The Cover-2 has been around and stood the test of time, just like the West Coast, Smith says with a clear degree of comfort. Its not going anywhere.
West Coast-ing

Reid has been running his offense in Philadelphia since becoming a first-time head coach there in 1999. Before Philadelphia, he was around Brett Favre, Mike Holmgren and the Green Bay Packers as they ran that scheme in trashing the Bears defenses of Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron.

Reid worked under Holmgren and coordinator Sherman Lewis during time there and they both allowed me to more than they probably should but I mustve done ok at it and I learned, Reid said. I had two great teachers who had trust in me.

So here is this old West Coast thing, which is really a Lavell EdwardsBrigham Young (the school, not the Mormon) thing, which is where Reids roots trace to.

I went to BYU and Ive been blessed with great players around me, in particular Donovan McNabb, Reid acknowledges. As to whether its a case of philosophy or scheme, Its probably a little bit of both.

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.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Bears actually trade Alshon Jeffery?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will Bears actually trade Alshon Jeffery?

Brian Hedger (nhl.com), Teddy Greenstein (Chicago Tribune) and Rich Campbell (Chicago Tribune) join Chuck Garfien on the panel.

The Bears reluctantly go back to Jay Cutler as the starter. Meanwhile, can the Bears actually trade Alshon Jeffery?

The guys give their predictions for the Bulls season, Hedger dissects the Blackhawks penalty kill problems and Teddy explains why Michigan will win the Big Ten.

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below:

Bears running back committee still a work in progress as ground game languishes

Bears running back committee still a work in progress as ground game languishes

The Bears have a fantasy football conundrum. Which of their running backs do they go with?

Jeremy Langford is listed as the starter. Then Ka’Deem Carey. Then Jordan Howard. Joique Bell was waived Monday, a clear statement that Langford is sufficiently back from the sprained ankle he suffered against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Bears have had three different leading rushers through seven games, which might be considered promising, except that none has established any sort of consistent identity with the opportunities.

The problem: in a production-based business, the depth chart is in inverse order of results. Howard is averaging 4.8 yards on his 73 carries and has a receiving and rushing touchdown. Carey is netting 4.7 on his 23, of which 10 came against the Green Bay Packers. Langford is rushing at the 3.7-yard average of his rookie season, but with two rushing touchdowns. Howard’s 14 pass receptions are nearly double the combined by Langford (5) and Carey (3).

And Howard has played 265 snaps, vs. 100 for Langford and 65 for Carey.

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But Howard was muzzled by the Packers and Langford is coming off a month’s worth of inactivity. And after averaging 116 rushing yards per game last season, the offense that was being committed to the run is down to 88 ground yards per game.

So who’s the Bears’ choice, because “committee” hasn’t exactly been the way, either. With the exception against the Jacksonville Jaguars when fullback Paul Lasike got a fourth-down rush for a first down, only once (Philadelphia Eagles) have the Bears had carries by all three running backs.

“When you look around the league, I don’t think many people are running it very effectively in general,” Bears head coach John Fox said. “I think in our division I think it’s maybe a little bit more important than it is league-wide. Again, to me the essence of football is still being able to stop the run and being able to run the ball. So we emphasize it quite a bit.”

If it’s being emphasized, that’s perhaps even more concerning. Better if the failed run game was due to neglect rather than an area of emphasis. And the reality is that it needs to succeed if the Bears are going to.

“We’ve got to keep running the ball well,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “I don’t think we’re running the ball well the last couple of weeks as we wanted to. That three-game span we were doing OK [4.4 ypc. combined vs. Detroit-Indianapolis-Jacksonville].”