Bears film study: Why so much room for Adrian Peterson to run?
The NFL was a little late in releasing the coaches film this week, but there's still time to answer some pressing questions from the Bears' Week 1 victory over Detroit.
1. Why did Adrian Peterson break off so many long runs?
There were some suggestions the Bears missed nose guard Eddie Goldman, who opted out of this season. But I disagree. The defensive line held its ground pretty well on Sunday. Bilal Nichols, Roy Robertson-Harris and new addition Jon Jenkins all did fine.
First of all, go ahead and tip your cap to Peterson. His vision, cutbacks and subtle stutter steps created a lot of that space. There's a reason Peterson averaged 6.6 yards per carry and Kerryon Johnson didn't.
Peterson had four runs of at least 10 yards and it was mostly due to the linebackers being out of position. On a 21-yard sweep in the third quarter, Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan actually collided.
A 10-yard run on the same drive was telling. Akiem Hicks made a good early move, got into the backfield and was probably held by guard Jonah Jackson. The linebackers were walled off by Detroit blockers, while Bears rookie OLB Trevis Gipson was pushed backward 10 yards and pancaked by TE Jesse James. Yikes.
On a 14-yard run in the fourth quarter, the Lions had a seven-man front, including tight ends, plus a fullback, while the Bears didn't have Hicks or Khalil Mack on the field. Good blocks and a nice cutback led to the big play.
But the Bears did have some success stories. They stopped Peterson twice to set up the third-down interception by Matthew Stafford in the fourth quarter. Trevathan navigated through some serious traffic to drop AP on first down.
2. Why was D'Andre Swift wide open for the potential winning TD with six seconds left?
Simply put, Trevathan got toasted. In fact, the veteran linebacker's pass coverage was very nearly the deciding factor in this game. On the Lions' touchdown drive late in the first half, Trevathan was burned on consecutive plays by TE T.J. Hockenson for 16 and 24 yards.
Somehow, Trevathan got stuck guarding Danny Amendola in the slot on the Lions' final drive, which resulted in the 32-yard pass play to the Bears' 16-yard line.
On the next play, Detroit knew exactly where to go and got their rookie RB Swift matched against Trevathan. Swift ran past him with ease, but dropped the pass. Safety Tashaun Gipson probably could have given help, but didn't read the play in time.
3. Where was rookie TE Cole Kmet?
The St. Viator High School grad was on the field for 20 snaps on offense. The Bears used a lot of three tight ends sets, with Kmet, Jimmy Graham and Demetrius Harris out there together and at times used tight ends to pass block. In this game, the Bears didn't try to fool anyone. They were usually in a run set or pass set, telegraphing their plans.
So Kmet was mostly a blocker. He did get one target, a pass in the end zone that was thrown behind him. Kmet had no chance to catch it.
Positive signs: RG Germain Ifedi seemed to solidify the offensive line. Rookie CB Jaylon Johnson was more than solid in his first NFL game. Rookie WR Darnell Mooney is ready to play. TE Jimmy Graham was brought in to be a red-zone weapon and scored the season's first TD.
Reasons to worry: Tashaun Gipson's run support at safety could be a concern. If Barkevius Mingo gets a sack this season, it will probably be by accident. Mitch Trubisky is certain to see more blitzes in the future than he got from the Lions.