Halftime adjustments: Defense needs tweak

December, 2, 2012
12/02/12
1:43
PM ET
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears haven’t demonstrated any propensity for stopping running back Marshall Lynch, but the Seattle Seahawks can’t seem to cover Brandon Marshall as the visiting team took a 10-7 at the half on a Steven Haschka 31-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining.

So look for both teams to try to make defensive adjustments at intermission.

Playing against mostly single coverage, Marshall torched Seattle in the first half, catching 6 passes for 89 yards with Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner taking turns on the skewer. Look for the Seahawks to play some two-man in the second half against Marshall or double-team him. If they don’t Marshall could possibly go for 200
yards.

Lynch, meanwhile, has reeled off 51 yards and a touchdown on seven attempts in the first half. Chicago goes into every game with stopping the run as the main objective. So far Chicago hasn’t been able to do it because Seattle has done a solid job of controlling the Bears front four.

Let’s look at a few more adjustments the Bears could make going into the second half.

KEEP THE PRESSURE ON WILSON



In Seattle’s first couple of series on offense, the Bears gave Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson several different looks, which diminished his effectiveness. The Bears blitzed safeties Chris Conte and Craig Steltz from deep in the secondary, and brought nickel corner Kelvin Hayden off the edge as well. The multiple looks disrupted Wilson’s ability to find a rhythm, and it helped the Bears administer plenty of pressure, which led to a Julius Peppers sack.

SPREAD IT AROUND


Jay Cutler completed passes to four different receivers through the first quarter, and despite directing several throws Marshall’s way, the quarterback hit other targets, too. Cutler tossed a 12-yard touchdown to Earl Bennett in the first quarter to open up the scoring for the day. He fired what should’ve gone for another touchdown in the second quarter, but Bennett -- after making a nifty adjustment on the ball -- dropped it.

It’s almost guaranteed that Seattle will ramp up coverage on Marshall. Seattle chose to defend Marshall mostly with one-on-one coverage, but given the damage the receiver has done so far, surely the Seahawks rethink that strategy and double him in the second half.

That should open things up for the other receivers such as Bennett and Eric Weems to make plays along with the tight ends. So when Seattle devotes the extra coverage to Marshall, it’s up to Cutler to find the other targets. They, in turn, need to make plays when given the opportunity. The Bears can’t afford anymore dropped balls on what should be sure TDs.

CONTINUE TO MIX IT UP



The Bears neutralized Seattle’s vaunted pass rush with the play calling of offensive coordinator Mike Tice, who mixed in plenty of bootleg action after establishing the run with Matt Forte and Michael Bush. By making sure to establish the run first, the Bears put the Seahawks on their heels early, which enabled them to open up the entire playbook. That played a major role in Chicago converting three of its first four third-down conversions, which also allowed the Bears to take an early lead with Bennett’s touchdown.

With the Seahawks expected to lock onto Marshall by double covering him some in the second half, the Bears need to continue to show some diversity with the offense.

When the Bears struggled on offense earlier in the season, we always explained that it’s not important to peak on that side of the ball until December. Two days into the month, perhaps now we’re seeing the Bears make their move just in time for the playoff push.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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