One area Chicago Bears have missed Buster Skrine

Buster Skrine, Chicago Bears. (Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Buster Skrine, Chicago Bears. (Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Chicago Bears defense has suffered in run defense without Buster Skrine

While Buster Skrine has been out with a concussion, the Chicago Bears have been getting an extended look at their second-year player Duke Shelley. Overall, the drop off has not been noticeable, as the Bears have reeled off a few wins in a row.

Of course, we have also written that Skrine was leading in the NFL in yards allowed from the slot per PFF, so it is hard to see a huge drop-off.

However, while Shelley has had his moments in coverage, there has been a significant drop off in an underrated area. Buster Skrine has been one of the best run defenders from the slot, while Shelley has struggled in this area.

You can see from the play below that Shelley beats his man inside the hole and gets into the backfield. However, at the last second, he hesitates and misses his chance at a tackle behind the line.

This is a small gain in a meaningless situation. Still, we are evaluating what Shelley is and whether the Bears can trust him moving forward. When watching Shelley against the run, there is a clear drop off down to Buster Skrine.

Watch Skrine against Derrick Henry below. It is a similar play and read. However, Skrine is in the backfield with instincts to blow it up.

This is not just one play. According to PFF, Skrine has a 5.4% run stop rate, while Shelley is a 1.9%. The Bears defense has taken a hit, and while Skrine was not elite in coverage, his instincts and downhill tackling has been missed.

Unfortunately for Skrine, that style of play of “sticking his head in there” has led to concussions following him around his career, and resulting in multiple missed weeks this year.

The Bears are going to have to have Skrine teach Shelley in the film room, and hope that Shelley can start to play faster, and more downhill against the run.

Blitzing issues

One thing about Chuck Pagano is that he does not blitz much. With that in mind, you did not see Skrine utilized much. However, he did dial one up for Shelley on Sunday, and we did not see a well-executed blitz.

To start, he gave it away early. Beyond that, he extended hard to the outside, and really never threatened the tackle, who picked up that he was coming with ease.

Shelley needs to watched skilled blitzes such as Mike Hilton, Kenny Moore, and old Chicago Bear Bryce Callahan. These are small details, but it made blitzing off of the edge more of a free shot, than a one-on-one with an experienced tackle.