NFC North: James Anderson
As that date quickly approaches, we take a look at Chicago’s pending free agents, and their chances of returning to the team in the third part of our series we’ll post all week.
2013 statistics: 6 games (four starts); 39 tackles (21 solo), 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 tackles for lost yardage, 1 quarterback pressure.
2013 salary: $900,000 base salary, $750,000 roster bonus, $100,000 workout bonus -- $1,281,250 cash value
Outlook: The Bears mentioned Williams' strong play prior to a season-ending pectoral injury on multiple occasions shortly after the season, and all indications are the club wants the veteran to return for 2014. Williams has spent time rehabbing at Halas Hall and says he would like to remain a part of Chicago’s defense in 2014. Given the mutual interest between the sides, it should be only a matter of time before the Bears sign Williams to a deal similar to what he received to join the club last spring. With Williams in the middle flanked outside by Lance Briggs and Jonathan Bostic (provided he wins the starting job at Sam), the Bears could field a solid linebacking corps next season provided the group stays healthy.
2013 statistics: 16 games (one start); 14 tackles, one pass breakup and 14 special teams tackles.
2013 salary: $715,000 base salary and $50,000 workout bonus -- $765,000 cash value
Outlook: Steltz is a solid reserve safety and special teams contributor. He's spent his entire NFL career in Chicago and would no doubt prefer to stay with the Bears. League minimum contracts for NFL veterans are a sensitive subject. Minimum deals basically represent an invitation to try out for the team. Veterans that fall into the league minimum category will fight hard for signing bonus money. Steltz could possibly find himself in that situation. Steltz has always been a good soldier, hard worker and positive voice in the locker room. Whether the Bears reward Steltz with a signing bonus (he received a $125,000 signing bonus two years) remains to be seen. But he fits the mold of the type of player the Bears are looking to bring back.
Position: Defensive tackle
2013 statistics: Five games (two starts); 13 tackles, three quarterback pressures and one sack.
2013 salary: $630,000 base salary and $5,250 workout bonus - $635,250 cash value
Outlook: Collins had a strong preseason and appeared poised to have a breakout year until he landed on injured reserve with a torn ACL. Collins is a pass-rusher. Players that can pressure the quarterback are not easy to find. The Bears decided not to tender Collins at the restricted free agent amount last season, and instead released him and signed him back to a minimum deal. Because of the knee injury, Collins is probably looking at the same kind of deal this time around. Collins, who has potential, seems like a decent candidate to return in the later waves of free agency unless the Bears feel confident enough in his health to extend him an offer in the coming week.
2013 statistics: 16 games (16 starts); 129.5 tackles (76 solo), 7.5 tackles for lost yardage, 10 quarterback pressures, 4 sacks, 3 pass breakups, 1 fumble recovery.
2013 salary: $950,000 base salary, $200,000 signing bonus, $100,000 workout bonus -- $1,250,000 cash value
Outlook: Anderson led the team in tackles, and tied with Shea McClellin for second in sacks. But the Bears haven’t shown much interest in bringing back Anderson so far this offseason. As of Wednesday afternoon, the team still hadn’t approached the veteran about a possible return. Anderson doesn’t seem to fit the mold of the tough, hardnosed athletes the Bears are looking to add to the defense. So once the negotiation window opens, Anderson will likely be speaking with other teams before the Bears make a move. Anderson will likely leave, but it's still too early to rule out a return to Chicago.
Hester, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after earning $2,107,523 in the final year of his contract, hopes to hear in the near future if he fits into the Bears’ plans beyond 2013.
One of the organization’s most popular players since he debuted in the league in 2006 as a second-round pick out of the University of Miami, Hester said he’s currently in the dark regarding the Bears’ offseason intentions.
“To be honest, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Hester said. “It really hurts walking off the field knowing that this could be my last time wearing a Chicago Bears uniform. It’s the most hurtful feeling that I have right now. This is where I was born and raised (as an NFL player). It’s not like I played three years somewhere else or six years somewhere else, but I know this is a business.
Everything I had in me I left it all on the field tonight. We just came up short.”
Hester returned a punt 49 yards in Week 17 while also handling five kickoffs for 127 yards. In his first season of being exclusively a return man, Hester finished 2013 with a 27.7 yard average on kickoff returns and 14.2 yard average on punt returns, including an 81-yard touchdown.
He joins a long list of prominent Bears players with expiring contracts. Among the players on the list: quarterback Jay Cutler, cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, defensive lineman Corey Wootton, safety Major Wright, center Roberto Garza, linebacker James Anderson and left guard Matt Slauson.
The future of veteran defensive end Julius Peppers is also in doubt. Although Peppers is under contract through 2015, he is currently projected to count $18,183,333 against the Bears’ salary cap next season. Peppers lead the Bears this year with 7.5 sacks, but he didn’t look nearly as dominant as he had in previous seasons.
“I’m not sure, I don’t know [what’s going to happen],” Peppers said. “I’m in a contract. You’ll need to talk to a decision-maker about that.”
The Bears failed to extend player contracts for almost the entire season until they re-signed kicker Robbie Gould and fullback Tony Fiammatta in the week leading up to the Packers game. General manager Phil Emery is expected to work quickly in the coming weeks to try to re-sign some of his own free agents that he views as long-term parts of the team.
The play was perhaps the most unusual turn of events in a 33-28 Packers victory at Soldier Field which end the Bears' season.
"We didn't pick it up and scoop and score with it. For me to try to explain why that happened, I really can't at this time because we've never allowed the ball to sit on the ground like that at any time in practice," Bears coach Marc Trestman said.
Green Bay took a 10-7 lead basically as the result of failure by the home team to play heads-up football.
As players from both teams watched, Boykin alertly picked up the ball and romped 15 yards for a touchdown.
"[The whistle] didn't blow, that's why they allowed it to be a touchdown. Twenty-two players basically stopped," Trestman said. "[No.] 11 probably got the word from the sideline to pick the ball up because it was over on their side. But I thought both teams stopped. So that's why it's such an unusual situation. Nobody got on the football."
Officials immediately reviewed the play and determined Rodgers fumbled as opposed to throwing incomplete, and confirmed the original call of a Boykin touchdown.
"We all thought it was a dead ball," said linebacker James Anderson, who watched the ball roll right past him. "That's why everyone kind of stopped. It was a big play. We need to make sure that we hear the whistle. I thought I did [hear a whistle], but I don't even know initially if anyone else knew what it was a live ball."
Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will take some heat for the club's defense not being more alert and not following the tenet of playing until the whistle is blown, something taught to players at every level. Surely, some will question whether or not a defense coached by Lovie Smith would have let such a play occur.
Given what was on the line -- the NFC North title and a berth in the playoffs -- all those criticisms would be legitimate, but it appeared the players should shoulder the blame in this instance.
At Bears' practices, every time the ball hits the ground -- even on an incomplete pass -- typically a defender scoops it up and starts running the other way.
"I guess the one time that you don't, it hurts you," Anderson said. "That's neither here nor there. That was one play in the game, and we still had an opportunity to win."
Trestman echoed those sentiments, but expressed disappointment in the fact the play resulted in points for the Packers. Take away Boykins' score, and the Bears win the game.
"I didn't hear a whistle. So I was just as curious as everybody else why nobody was moving towards the ball; nobody," Trestman said. "Certainly, completely disappointed. As I told our players, no one play is going to make a difference in the game. That was a highly unusual play, no doubt about it."
“It’s embarrassing, honestly,” he said. “Looking on the sideline, when you see the score at the end of the game and they've put up 54 on you, it’s embarrassing.”
Considering the Bears have allowed at least one 100-yard rusher in 10 games this season, including veritable no-names such as Benny Cunningham and Brown, and another one to an aging Brandon Jacobs, it’s probably safe to assume Chicago’s defense won’t all of the sudden become stout in the finale against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday -- in a game with the NFC North crown and a postseason berth on the line. Traditionally, it’s been the defense that has helped the Bears stay in games. Currently, it’s that unit that could wind up keeping Chicago out of the playoffs.
It’s important to note that losses on Sunday by the Packers and the Detroit Lions meant that the Bears could have clinched the division title by defeating the Eagles. While ineptitude on offense contributed to the loss at Philadelphia, too often this season the defense has been the culprit.
“In the past years, we always stepped up when we needed to regardless of what the offense was doing,” Wootton said. “It just hasn’t been like that. If we want to make the playoffs or we want to make any type of run, we have to get this shored up. We talk about this every week.”
Philadelphia reeled off 10 plays for gains of 16 yards or more, with three of those plays coming on Nick Foles completions. The Eagles converted on 56 percent of their third-down attempts, and scored touchdowns on five trips into the red zone as Foles completed passes and McCoy either outran Bears defenders or outright made them miss.
The seven touchdowns scored by the Eagles were the most the Bears have allowed in franchise history (although one of the TDs was on an interception return). The 54 points rank as the second-most ever allowed by the Bears in franchise history.
“There’s a lot of different reasons we didn’t get this done today,” coach Marc Trestman said. “We’re all at fault. It starts with me. Nobody played well enough to win tonight.”
Trestman, Wootton, linebacker James Anderson and safety Craig Steltz all stressed that the coaching staff adequately prepared the players for what the schemes they’d see from the Eagles. The players simply didn’t execute.
“I do not think it was one special thing we did wrong,” safety Chris Conte said. “We just got our tails kicked today.”
Wootton said the Bears played the Eagles “the way we were supposed to” but “just didn’t make the plays when we needed to.”
Wootton also provided examples.
“If you look at it, they didn’t keep the ball really at all with Foles on the zone-reads. We knew they were gonna give the ball to McCoy,” Wootton said. “The one guy that was supposed to stay outside for contain would be there, then he’d miss the tackle. Or the guy wasn’t there when he was supposed to be. It was just stuff like that. But that can really gut you. That’s what they want to exploit on you. They want to make the one-on-one play and try to make you miss.”
The Eagles did that all night, with the rushing of McCoy and Brown and with Foles passing over the top of the Bears. Foles finished with a passer rating of 131.7, and although Chicago sacked him twice, the quarterback seemed to have plenty of time to find open receivers and deliver the ball.
“They just came out and brought it to us,” defensive end Julius Peppers said.
The Packers are capable of doing the same, even with hobbled running back Eddie Lacy -- who rushed for 150 yards against the Bears on Nov. 4 -- and Aaron Rodgers likely out. It’s not that Green Bay’s offense is as potent as Philadelphia’s. Chicago’s defense just appears to be that bad, with no real signs of improving.
“We certainly couldn’t stop the run,” Trestman said. “We’ve got to address is factually. We can’t deny the fact that we didn’t stop the run tonight. We’ve got to make sure they know why, and we’ve got to do what we can to get back to where we were previously the last couple of weeks when we really did feel we were ascending. We were getting better. You’re not where you ever want to be, but certainly [we were at] a place where we could be in a competitive environment, and get the ball back to the offense. There’s no one side of the ball that lost this one.”
-- ESPNChicago.com’s Jeff Dickerson puts out his latest edition of Stock Watch, and finally a Bears defensive player makes the cut in linebacker James Anderson.
Dickerson writes this about Anderson: The veteran strongside linebacker recorded a team-high and season-best 14 tackles in the win against the Browns. Anderson, along with rookie middle linebacker Jon Bostic (eight tackles), were around the football much of the afternoon. The past couple of months have not been easy for Anderson. With veterans Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams unavailable because of injuries, Anderson was thrust into the leadership role at linebacker, playing alongside rookies Bostic and Khaseem Greene.
-- Want an idea of how the playoffs will pan out? Well, you can plug in your scenarios in the ESPN.com Playoffs Machine and get all the information you’re looking for. Check it out here.
-- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune outlines how Bears receiver Earl Bennett can earn back some of the money he lost from taking a $1 million pay cut earlier in the season. Bennett has caught touchdown passes in back-to-back games, and has a legitimate chance to make back all the money he was scheduled to earn if he comes up with 10 more catches over the next two games.
-- CSNChicago.com took the time to run down the tweets of Bears players reacting to the 61-yard field goal nailed by Justin Tucker that knocked Detroit out of first place in the NFC North and gave Chicago control of its own postseason destiny.
Coming into Monday night's game McClellin had 3 career sacks, before matching that number against the Packers.
More ribbing: Rookie middle linebacker Jonathan Bostic sports a long goatee, and as he stood in front of his locker, fellow rookie Kyle Long joked about the facial hair being made of Velcro.
Meanwhile veteran linebacker James Anderson said Bostic played well “by the hair on his chinny chin chin.”
Bostic finished the game with four tackles, and spent some time after the game speaking with Anderson in depth about how to defeat blocks from centers. Anderson to Bostic explained the importance of attacking the edge of the blocker as opposed to striking him down the middle.
Emery makes the rounds: General manager Phil Emery could be heard saying “it feels good” as he walked through a celebratory locker room patting players on the back headed toward the team's buses.
It's your birthday: Cornerback Tim Jennings strolled through the locker room and alerted anybody within earshot about the 31st birthday of return man Devin Hester. Jennings said he bought Hester a watch for his birthday, and later joked, “Yeah, right.”
Hester racked up 113 return yards on four kickoffs and a punt return. Hester's longest return of the day was a 29-yard kickoff return.
“James has done it this week so far and it’s looked good,” Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said on Thursday. “He’s done it before. [Rookie middle linebacker] Jon [Bostic] will also have a role in it, helping us get lined up. So we won’t have any issues getting lined up.”
An eight-year NFL veteran, Anderson has proven to be one of the defense’s most consistent performers after the club signed him to a one-year deal in the offseason. Anderson is currently third on the team with 54 tackles. Before arriving in Chicago, Anderson started 53 games for the Carolina Panthers from 2006-2012 -- 43 of those starts occurred over the last three seasons.
“I’m completely comfortable [calling the plays],” Anderson said. “I did it in Carolina so it’s nothing that is new to me. For the most part during the year I’ve been helping Lance make the calls, so it’s not like I’m totally new to the situation.”
Anderson went on to say he embraces the opportunity to call the signals because the act itself makes him a better player.
“I think it helps me to call plays because it reiterates in my mind what the call is and what we are trying to do,” Anderson said. “When I’m telling them what the call is, I’m also telling myself as well.”
This is an important week for Anderson. As the last veteran linebacker standing, until Briggs returns, he will be responsible for properly aligning the defense against one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL: Aaron Rodgers. The No. 1 career passer in terms of quarterback rating (105.2) in NFL history, Rodgers is having another All-Pro caliber year in 2013, completing 167 of 249 passes for 2,191 yards and 15 touchdowns with just four interceptions -- 108.0 quarterback rating.
“I don’t think it’s more a teaching role, I think we just have to make sure we improve our communication on the field,” Anderson said. “I just have to make sure I talk to these young guys more on the field so they feel comfortable.”
Privately, Rodgers is likely relishing the chance to face a Bears’ defense without Briggs and with a pair of rookie linebackers (Bostic and Khaseem Greene) in the starting lineup. However, Rodgers downplayed the changes the Bears have undergone this week at linebacker during a conference call on Thursday with members of the Chicago media.
“I’m sure anybody who’s making those calls, regardless of who they put the helmet on, will be ready to go,” Rodgers said. “Those guys have been in that defense for a while so the faces may change, but schematically it’s not going to be a lot of huge changes. It always comes down to execution in these matchups.
It’s been down-to-the-wire games; we’ve gotten the best of them the last few games but we don’t take this game lightly ever.”
Bennett has been banged up for much of the season but has managed to start each of the Bears’ six games. He has faced Washington 10 times in his NFL career, catching 21 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensive tackle Stephen Paea (toe), safety Anthony Walters (hamstring), linebacker James Anderson (back) and safety Major Wright (knee) will be listed as probable for Sunday.
Paea, Walters and Anderson participated fully during Friday’s walk-through, while Wright was limited.
The Bears are eager to get Paea back on the field to help the team’s ailing defensive line. Paea was inactive the last two games but practiced four days this week and is expected to return versus the Redskins at FedEx Field.
Veteran linebacker D.J. Williams suffered a season-ending pectoral injury that will require surgery, and he will be replaced on the Bears’ active roster by practice squad linebacker Jerry Franklin.
Run defense: It’s still a significant issue, and it’s unlikely to get resolved anytime soon given the injury-ravaged state of the defensive line. Injuries to linebackers James Anderson and D.J. Williams further deplete the front seven. New York’s Brandon Jacobs became the third running back to gash the Bears for 100 yards or more, and the Giants averaged 4.7 yards per rush, which put them in manageable situations on third downs. That’s part of the reason New York converted 64 percent of third downs.
It’s not all about passing for Cutler, though. The quarterback’s decision-making is markedly better than in the past, and he’s scorching opponents with sneaky athleticism when the situation calls for it. Cutler has generated a passer rating of 100 or better in two straight games, and he’s now 27-2 (including the postseason) when his passer rating is 100 or better.
Third-down conversions: On the flip side of Cutler’s improved play is the fact the Bears struggled with consistency on third down against a horrid Giants defense. Make no mistake about it: a 45 percent conversion rate for the game is winning football. But the Bears moved the chains on 2-of-3 third-down attempts in the first half. Then, nursing a 24-14 lead to start the second half, they converted just 3-of-8.
Injuries: Let’s face it, the Bears lack the cap space to try to fix the injury situation by adding or making trades for players. So they’ve got to work with what they’ve got, which won’t be an easy feat and might require some creativity on the part of the coaching staff. In addition to the injuries to Anderson and Williams, the Bears played without cornerback Charles Tillman (groin and knee) and nose tackle Stephen Paea (turf toe). It’s likely all but Williams (who will miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle) will be available for next Sunday’s game against the Redskins. But all the replacement players such as defensive tackles Landon Cohen and David Bass and linebacker Jonathan Bostic need to step up, as do struggling starters such as Julius Peppers and Shea McClellin.
Bears coach Marc Trestman said he speaks every day with general manager Phil Emery about potential additions, but the truth is there’s not much they can do.
“We talk every day at some point in time about where we are, where we're going, how we're going, in terms of improving our football team,” Trestman said. “So that's always a part of really the daily process. We meet twice a week. I stick my head in the door, he does, once a day just to check in and see what we can do to help each other do their jobs.”
CHICAGO -- In the past, clinging to a six-point lead with 5:21 left and the opposing team taking possession at its own 11-yard line, it would have seemed almost certain the Chicago Bears would hold on to win.
Yet that wasn’t the feeling Thursday night at a tense Soldier Field, and likely won’t ever be this season with the way Chicago’s defense continues to struggle.
During that frantic sequence, New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs broke loose for 14 yards on first down. Three plays later, Eli Manning hit Hakeem Nicks for an 11-yard gain. Two more running plays picked up 25 yards, and by the 2:02 mark, the Giants had advanced all the way to the Chicago 35.
“It wasn’t pretty out there,” said cornerback Tim Jennings, arguably the game’s most valuable player. He preserved Chicago’s 27-21 victory with an interception at the Bears' 10-yard line with 1:54 remaining, and he had put a touchdown on the board in the first quarter with a 48-yard interception return.
“We got off to a fast start. We didn’t finish strong, though. We’ve got to go back and figure it out. We didn’t play well. Of course we’re happy with the win. But just going back and watching, it’s not going to be a pretty thing to watch. It’s a learning tool. We’ll get something out of it.”
The Bears certainly need to.
Chicago captured its 10th consecutive victory in a game in which it scored a defensive touchdown. Since 2005, the Bears are 24-2 when they score on defense. It's an impressive statistic. But the primary objective on defense is to stop the opponent from scoring -- something Chicago hasn’t done all season.
The Bears are allowing 26.8 points per game, and haven’t yet limited an opponent to fewer than 21 points. Since 2010, the Bears are 15-6 when they hold teams to 17 points or fewer. During that span, when they allow 18 points or more the Bears are 18-15.
“Our guys, we missed some tackles,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “We didn’t make some plays, certainly, we need to make down the road here.”
Jacobs finished the game with 106 yards and two touchdowns, marking the third time an opponent rushed for 100 yards or more against the Bears.
The Giants came into the game with the NFL’s lowest conversion percentage (26.2) on third down, yet skyrocketed that number up to 64 percent against the Bears. Manning completed four passes for gains of 20 yards or more, including two connections for 30-plus yards.
“We’ve got to work on third downs,” Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. “Third downs have been the bane of our defense this year.”
Chicago’s starting front four featured defensive end Corey Wootton inside at tackle alongside Landon Cohen, who joined the team on Sept. 29, as well as defensive ends Julius Peppers and Shea McClellin.
By the time the Giants attempted to mount their late rally, the Bears had already lost two more starters: linebackers in D.J. Williams (chest) and James Anderson (back)
“You’re right about these injuries,” safety Major Wright said. “But it’s the NFL? What do you expect?”
Obviously not what observers in the past had become accustomed to from a Bears defense in a crucial situation with advantageous field position. But in the end, Chicago’s defense found a way to seal the victory thanks to two interceptions from Jennings and another from Zack Bowman, who filled in for Tillman.
“We want to be out there on that field around that time,” Wright said. “We’ve got some special players, and any time during a game, we can get a turnover -- by anybody. We knew something was gonna happen, and it was Tim.”
But the truth is, the Bears can’t always rely on that.
Push-broom mustache: Bears tackle Kyle Long grew a mustache that resembled the business end of a push broom for the game in honor of defensive tackle Nate Collins, who suffered a torn ACL and is out for the season. “The mustache, it represents the sorrow I feel for not being able to see my buddy Nate Collins on the field every day,” Long said. “I’ve spoken to him in regards to the facial hair, and he likes it and he appreciates it.” Long considers Collins a brother. His actual brother, Chris Long, a defensive end for the St. Louis Rams, is Collins’ best friend. Chris and Collins were roommates at the University of Virginia.
Added message: Typically, the last two words on the dry-erase board in the locker room are “Bear Down.” That message was again there Thursday, followed by “Be a Monster.”
Is he just acting like any other star receiver, or is there reason for concern ahead? Our panel weighs in on that and more:
Fact or Fiction: Brandon Marshall's frustration will become a problem for the Bears.
.Jeff Dickerson: Fact. Marshall seems like the type of player who is only happy when he sees the ball 10-15 times per game. That's probably not going to happen every week because the Bears actually have other people on offense capable of making plays in Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, Matt Forte, etc. I understand when Marshall says that every legitimate No. 1 wide receiver wants the ball all the time. But Marshall has spent an inordinate amount of time the last couple of days discussing his level of frustration, don't you think? Marshall leads the Bears with 31 catches. He's on pace for 99 receptions. The team is 3-2. So what's the issue? Imagine if Marshall has a couple more average games by his standards. What's going to happen then? Marshall also wants a new contract, which further complicates the matter. Unless the Bears start ripping off victories, this might not end well. And even if the Bears win games, Marshall had better get his targets. That's been made abundantly clear.
Jon Greenberg: Fact. But it's not because of the news conferences. Marshall admitted that the real battle is not letting his frustrations affect his play. If he's dropping passes because his mind isn't into it, then it's a major problem for the Bears. Marshall seems to recognize that. For all the criticism he gets for courting media attention, he seems to have a good read on his own feelings and how to control them. Now it's up to him to make himself more "quarterback friendly," as he says, and limit his internal distractions.
Bush fumbled the play before and the ball was recovered by Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson, extending the Lions drive with 2:52 remaining in the first half.
The Lions went to the line on the next play, calling another handoff to Bush. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was in shotgun with Bush a step behind him and to his right. Center Dominic Raiola saw something in the Chicago defense that told him to make a call with his veteran left guard, Rob Sims.
“I saw a weak dog and I saw a nickel coming off the edge,” Raiola said. “We said all week we wanted to hit one right into the mouth of their blitz and that’s really what it was.
Raiola told Sims to engage the defensive end, Julius Peppers. In doing so -- and getting a good push on Peppers out to the left, he almost made it appear as if he and left tackle Riley Reiff were doubling Peppers on the snap.
They weren’t, as Reiff’s man, linebacker James Anderson, blitzed far on his side. This opened up the first part of a massive hole for Bush, who by the time he reached the line of scrimmage had almost the entire width between the hashmarks to run through and make his initial cut.
In the pre-snap, Bears defensive tackle Nate Collins was initially lined up right over Raiola, but on the snap he slid over to engage right guard Larry Warford. Warford sealed Collins away from the hole.
This allowed Raiola a clean path to the second level, where he was able to block linebacker Lance Briggs.
“We were working on that,” Sims said. “We knew they were going to try and slant Julius and we just, Dom made a good call. Dom told me to go out to (Peppers) and I did and we caught them in it.
“That’s the thing with them, they are really good at moving and when you can catch them in it, you can make some hay. And Reggie don’t need much.”
Bush had a wide open lane to run through. He ran almost right at the Raiola-Briggs block before cutting back to the right side and into the second and third levels of the defense.
It appeared as if defensive end Cornelius Washington was the man who was supposed to mark up Bush at the snap, but he was on the edge of the defense and looked like he hesitated on the snap out of the backfield and ended up chasing Bush from behind. He had a chance to tackle him, but missed.
Then Bush made another quick cut right and -- this is really what made the run -- jumped over a diving Major Wright. Had Wright kept his feet, he would have had a better shot at the Detroit running back.
Once Bush made that move, he had one more assist. Wide receiver Ryan Broyles put a good seal block on Chicago cornerback Tim Jennings to give Bush a deep crease in the secondary.
Jennings would end up almost catching up to Bush, but those few extra strides helped turn the play into a touchdown.
“A sweet run,” Stafford said. “It was a play that honestly we had been working on in practice all week knowing they were going to blitz us, which they always do.
“Instead of getting out of it, just running right into it. Dom made a great call up front, (Brandon) Pettigrew had a great block to seal off the back side and let Reggie do the rest.”
Letting Bush do the rest is becoming a common theme for the Lions these days. Detroit’s offensive line had done such a good job against Chicago on Sunday, the 37-yard touchdown was merely one of the big runs Bush was able to find.
The touchdown was the longest run of the day for Bush, who had four rushes of 14 yards or more and 139 yards overall.
“Reggie Bush is special,” Wright told reporters after the game. “He has speed. He can shake you. He can do everything.”