Bears Have a Home Field Disadvantage

After the blizzard of points Tom Brady and the Patriots put up on the Bears’ vaunted defense and the lack of production from Jay Cutler and the Bears offense, it’s becoming clear that the Bears face a definite home field disadvantage.  What do I mean?  I’m saying that this 2010 Bears team is built to succeed in a dome or a warmer climate.

Let’s start off with Lovie Smith’s Tampa-2 defense.  We’ve talked about this many times on this site, but it’s worth bringing up again.  The scheme is predicated on the principle that the Front Four defensive linemen generate a pass rush.  The prototypical defensive linemen for the Cover-2 or Tampa-2 scheme are lighter, faster guys.

Long gone are the days of 700 pounds of Keith Traylor and Ted Washington eating up blockers.  They’ve been traded in for a couple of lighter, faster models. In nasty conditions like we saw at Soldier Field on Sunday, these lighter, faster linemen get pushed around by bigger, stronger offensive lines.  They can’t get the traction necessary to generate consistent pressure.  As a result, the Bears have to blitz more to get pressure, creating more holes in their zone coverage.

The next area where the Cover-2 is vulnerable is for the quick slants and hitch routes.  How many times did Wes Welker just turn around and look for Brady to deliver the ball while the Bears’ corner sat 10 yards off the ball? In sloppy conditions, a quick move and the receiver is able to elude a would-be tackler charging up from their zone.

To an experienced quarterback like Tom Brady, it just takes a play action look or a little pump fake to confuse the safeties and further expose the defense.  It’s like taking candy from a baby.

Head coach and defensive mastermind Lovie Smith defended his Cover-2 defense:

“That was a rare happening [Sunday],” Smith said. “There’s nothing wrong with our scheme. We played a little Cover 2 [Sunday]. Normally, that’s an easy person — you know that Cover 2 person to jump on — but [Sunday] we weren’t in an awful lot to be truthful. So we’re not going to use that. The scheme is good, we didn’t execute. The scheme has helped us get to 9-3, but [Sunday], again, we didn’t execute.”

Really, Lovie?  Just when I was starting to soften my stance against you, you pull one of those quotes out of your ass.  How rare is rare?  Off the top of my head, I can think of 4 games where the Bears got their proverbial doors blown off last season alone – Bengals, Cardinals, Vikings and Ravens – just off the top of Boomer’s old melon.  None of those games were played under the adverse conditions from Sunday, but they all featured teams that carved up the Cover-2 scheme.  Granted, last season the Bears played without a premier pass rusher like Julius Peppers or the lynch of this defense, Brian Urlacher.

On the other side of the ball, Mike Martz’s offense was one knows as the Greatest Show on Turf.  Obviously they didn’t have the recently green-painted dirt of Soldier Field in mind when they were referring to turf.  The offense is a timing-based system that requires precise timing between the quarterback and his receivers.   The quarterback often throws the ball before receivers are coming out of their breaks.  Do you see a mismatch between words like precise and timing and the slop they call Soldier Field?

When Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith attempted to reconstruct the St. Louis Rams circa 1999, they must have forgotten that the Bears play in Soldier Field, where every year the turf goes to hell by Thanksgiving and footing is tenuous at best all season long.  The field conditions totally negate the Bears’ team speed.  Think it’s pure coincidence that three of the Bears’ four losses have come at home this season?

When you add the elements that Mother Nature threw out there on Sunday, the schemes on both sides of the ball completely fail.  Add in an experienced opposing quarterback and struggles along your own offensive line and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.  This team was not built to win in the hostile winter conditions on the sloppy Soldier Field turf.

If the playoffs were to start today, the Bears would be the #2 seed and host a playoff game.   Think they could defer and go to New Orleans instead of playing at Soldier Field?

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  • Phil

    Another great article Boomer. Don’t forget about Seattle this year, and the Falcons last year. The Cover/Tampa 2 really worked well in those games as well.

  • DeCon

    Boomer…you are a man in the know…what the hell is the hold up with just putting turf in??? As blasphemous as that might be, if we are stuck with Lovie an Co. for the forseeable future, you’d think adding turf would be a no brainer.

    • Boomer

      From what I’ve heard, it’s actually the Bears that are holding it up. The Chicago Park District proposed it to the Bears – since it costs $500k to re-sod – but the Bears want more data on injuries and player safety of the latest artificial turf before they allow it. Supposedly injury rate is higher on turf. I’ll see if I can dig up some more info for ya.

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  • drhad

    The Bears, have a deasises, its simply put LovieSmithIsm. He has no killer instinct. Nor do the Bears. He is in with this prevent defense called a cover two, Tampa two. Who gives a flip. It prevents the bears from doing a New England, on the other team. Lovie get off your deer in the headlights ASS, and let the Bears be what we expect. Monsters! I have had the unfortunate circumstance of living in Nebraska for the last 7 years, so I have not seen alot of Bears games, have pity on me please. I now am in Myrtle Beach SC second thought no potty needed. This year I got to see almost all Bears games, this year. Including the Philly game while on the drive through at my daughters in Chicago. The group I was with all had the same type of feeling. Lovie has got to GO. They are With few exceptions what a bunch of lovies (pansies). Whats really bad about this is the dunderheads that are Bears upper management will see a winning record, and a first round knockout of the playoffs as progress. NOT! Since Lovie is so fond of using other peoples defenses, lets use the way-back machine Mr. Sherman and bring back Buddy Ryan’s 46 D. There are so few coaches with a killer instinct it will be tough but it can be done. For the Bears to have FEAR about playing in Bear weather, whats next we will be talking about the Mians and the end of the world in 2012. Professor Martz may have it But I don’t think so.
    So lets try this everyone, its an old school bit. Whoohao Lovie has got to go. It sure would be nice to sing we are the Champions again.
    BE foe now Dr Had