Dan Pompei made one of his usual astute observations about yesterday’s game for the Chicago Tribune:
“The Bears also played a heavy dose of man-to-man, especially against nickel personnel. In fact, they played man on about half the snaps.
“They tried D.J. Moore on Wes Welker man-to-man. Result: 17-yard reception. They tried (Tim) Jennings on Welker in man-to-man. Result: 12-yard reception.
“The Patriots’ multifaceted offense took the Bears out of what they do best. They are not built to play man-to-man any more than a rear-wheel-drive sports car is built for a Chicago winter.”
The Patriots are very good at dictating match ups when going against teams who play a zone defense. A good part of that is because they can dictate personnel with their tight ends, then line up Welker or another player in a position to get a favorable match up.
Looking at it in retrospect, the only way that the Bears were going to effectively defend against the New England offense was going to be by playing man-to-man.
As Pompei points out, the Bears just aren’t built to do that. Their defensive backs were signed and/or drafted to play zone and, when they’ve got their heads in the game and conditions are right, they’re pretty good at it. But if they want to compete with the elite teams, their defensive backs are going to have to be more versatile. Otherwise losses like yesterdays are always going to be a possibility.