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Brad Biggs' Bears film session

Aggressive game plan from Mel Tucker overwhelms Bucs line, makes QB Josh McCown uncomfortable in pocket.

In pressuring Josh McCown on Sunday, the Bears apparently had faith their front seven could overmatch the Buccaneers offensive line.

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker devised a game plan that was more aggressive than in recent games and reaped the benefits with Bucs offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo playing into the Bears' hand by calling only 20 runs in 75 offensive plays. The result? McCown was rarely settled in the pocket with time to deliver the ball.

On McCown's 56 dropbacks (including one play wiped out by penalty), the Bears went with a four-man rush 37 times and a five-man rush on 18 occasions with a three-man rush on the game's final play. The defensive line stunted on 12 occasions, betting that it could confuse the Bucs up front, which it did regularly.

Tucker walked down a linebacker to the line of scrimmage on 17 occasions using Shea McClellin eight times, Christian Jones seven times and Jon Bostic twice. That gave the Bears a five-man line and created more one-on-one opportunities, situations the interior of the line used to its benefit.

On the 18 blitzes, McCown completed 5 of 14 passes for 62 yards and was intercepted by free safety Chris Conte on a play when defensive tackle Stephen Paea hit him hard in the midsection as he released the ball. The good news is only two of the five sacks came on five-man pressures, meaning the pass rush also got home with four. David Bass' strip-sack came on a blitz.

Grading key: Grades are between 0 and 10 with 0 being complete failure and 10 being perfect.

Defensive line

Grade: 8

Paea had his most disruptive game of the season, causing fits for right guard Patrick Omameh. He repeatedly got a push up the middle and the line as a whole did a nice job maintaining gap integrity to prevent McCown from scrambling. Jeremiah Ratliff was dependable inside against the run and also got a sack and multiple hits on McCown. Rookie Will Sutton took advantage of extended playing time (31 snaps) and tripped up Charles Sims for no gain on third-and-1 at the Bears' 36-yard line in the fourth quarter and then combined with Paea to stuff McCown on a fourth-down sneak. Cornelius Washington showed tremendous get-off in limited playing time and registered a sack. Jared Allen had seven hits on McCown.


Grade: 5

Bostic missed two opportunities for interceptions when he broke up a pass for Mike Evans in the end zone and had a completion somehow go directly through his arms. Bostic also missed a chance to bring down Louis Murphy on a short curl route that turned into a 54-yard gain after cornerback Tim Jennings missed a tackle. Jones took advantage of more playing time and was active with a fumble recovery and as a blitzer. Lance Briggs was slow in zone coverage before leaving with a groin injury.


Grade: 6

Al Louis-Jean was steady replacing Kyle Fuller in the second half and Tim Jennings challenged the bigger Bucs wide receivers on the opposite side. McCown missed a few chances to find open targets downfield, but some of the success of the front was due to a nice job on the back end. Demontre Hurst ran down McCown from behind on a blitz and stripped Vincent Jackson as Conte secured the tackle. Hurst missed a chance to tackle Murphy in the open field on what turned into a 17-yard gain.


Grade: 7

Conte expertly read the eyes of McCown on the interception as he made an ill-advised throw for tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Ryan Mundy was in the right place to pick off a high throw that tipped off Sims' hands, and Mundy was active in run support, stuffing Doug Martin on a 1-yard gain to open the third quarter.


Grade: 4

The passing game remained totally out of sorts and Cutler finished with only 130 yards, his lowest total in a game he started and finished since Sept. 13, 2012, at Green Bay (126). But after throwing at least one interception in each of the last four games, he didn't toss one to the Bucs. The screen game wasn't as effective as it has been as the Bears ran only four. The only downfield completion came when tight end Martellus Bennett elevated to make a nice catch on a ball safety Dashon Goldson misplayed. Three dropped passes (two by Marquess Wilson) plagued the passing game.

Offensive line

Grade: 6

Right tackle Michael Ola had another rough game. He lost track of what was happening on the 10-yard sack Major Wright and Clinton McDonald combined on and was overpowered by Jacquies Smith, who deflected a pass that Mason Foster should have intercepted. Left guard Brian de la Puente got overextended and whipped by Gerald McCoy on a sack. But the line did a better job of creating some creases on the interior for running back Matt Forte. Right guard Kyle Long worked a nice combination block to clear out linebacker Danny Lansanah for a 9-yard gain. It was telling that coach Marc Trestman called seven runs on the eight snaps in the red zone.

Running backs

Grade: 6

Forte wasn't super elusive, but he did pick up what his blocking gave him and made a terrific cut to the left to score on a 13-yard run as Bennett sealed the back side and Alshon Jeffery made a nice block on Johnthan Banks. The Bears ran well to control the clock and tempo in the second half.

Wide receivers

Grade: 3

Three penalties on Brandon Marshall (one declined) set the offense back in the first half, and the drops by Wilson could erode Cutler's confidence in him. The wideouts combined for only seven receptions, and two were on screens to Jeffery. The downfield passing game is struggling.

Tight ends

Grade: 7

Dante Rosario received extended playing time as a fullback with 29 snaps on 57 plays, lining up in the backfield primarily. On multiple occasions he made fine lead blocks on Lansanah, including on Forte's 5-yard gain to the 1-yard line to set up the second rushing touchdown in the third quarter. Bennett had a drop but blocked well and had the 26-yard gain on his nice catch.

Special teams

Grade: 3

Ryan Mundy is the latest to struggle as the right wing on the punt team, getting nabbed for holding, one of three penalties on special teams. Pat O'Donnell had seven solid punts and two poor ones at the end. Robbie Gould missed from 54 yards. Marc Mariani looks like he might provide a spark to the return game.

Twitter @BradBiggs

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