5 Things That Surprised Me in Week 5

1. That I was actually right

In breaking down the Bears defense, I noticed what I thought was a weakness, that they were susceptible to draws out of the shotgun and play action from under center. On back-to-back Lions plays, they demonstrated both of those weaknesses in spades. You can watch a video of the first play here.

Here, you’ll see Stafford taking the snap from under center and faking the handoff to Best. This draws Briggs (#55) in towards the line and freezes Urlacher (#54) for a step. Pettigrew gets in behind them easily and catches an 18 yard touchdown. After another Bears drive, the Lions’ first play from scrimmage from their own 12 yard line illustrated my other point. Here’s a video.

On this play, Stafford takes the shotgun snap and hands off to Best before rolling to his left following the flat route by Scheffler. Briggs read this as a pass play and bit on the flat, abandoning his gap responsibility in the run game. Fortunately for the Lions, the secondary players also took terrible angles after Best and turned it from a potential big gainer (~10-15 yards) to a huge gainer (88 yards).

Throughout the game, Briggs got burned quite a few times. Late in the game, Urlacher looked quite upset with Briggs:

Urlacher: You know you lost us the game, right? Briggs: Oh maaaan :(

2. The Lions’ Pressure

The Bears ran 67 plays on Monday night to the Lions’ 46. However, the Bears pressured Stafford just 2 times (7.4% of passing plays) and the Lions pressured Cutler 25 times (59.5% of passing plays). For two lines that were criticized in recent weeks (Lions d-line not living up to expectations and o-line giving up too much pressure on Stafford), those are both incredible performances. I will note that my numbers don’t quite match up with these since I took everything from the game tape and included some of the plays wiped out by penalties and the QB scrambles. Here’s a few screenshots of one of those graceful displays:

3. Possession Imbalance

Like I said in the last point, the Bears ran 67 plays and the Lions only ran 46, despite each of them having the same number of drives in the game. The surprising part is that the Lions were just flat out better on offense than the Bears. They passed better (7.93 YPA vs. 5.73 YPA) and ran better (9.47 YPC vs. 4.76 YPA). The Lions gained 9.4% more yards in 31.3% fewer plays. The only things that can explain the possession difference in the Bears favor are penalties by the Lions, the interception thrown by Stafford and the big plays by the Lions skewing the averages.

4. Bears Under Center

Contrary to many of the Lions’ opponents this year, the Bears stayed under center for most of the game (79.1% of snaps). For comparison, the Lions were under center for only 30.4% of their snaps. AgaiubThe Cowboys were under center 60% of the time, the Vikings came in at 56.4%, the Chiefs were under center 63.2% of the time, and the Bucs took snaps from under center just 17.7% of the time. Since Martz’s offense his highly timing oriented, I assume that’s why they stayed under center so much. Still, putting Cutler in the shotgun would have done well to keep him away from the pass rush a little more.

5. Eric Wright almost defending a pass with his foot

Almost the coolest, luckiest thing ever. That’s all I have to say about that.

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