Killing the Bear (Formation)

The 1985 Chicago Bears were my all time favorite team. Buddy Ryan (who recently passed away) became famous for his defense (called the 46) now known simply as the Bear. It was designed to stop the typical offensive set of the time – the 2 back, one TE , run oriented style. When NFL teams threw they usually went to a 5 to 7 step pocket type. Ryan and his killer crew, ate it up , to say the least.

Flash forward to today – and the Doublewing Offense . I hear a lot of talk about using the Bear to stifle my favorite offense. I want to go on record as saying that as much as I like the Bear, it is no match for the Doublewing. In fact, I want to explain how it can be beat with one play.

The Bear is predicated on a T,N,T set covering the center and 2 guards with defensive linemen. The edges are set with wide 9 techniques. The linebackers will then set the C-gap bubbles. Corners will set over or just outside the wings. The safeties somewhere 5-10 yards aligned with each Tight End. (Diagram A). The original Bear was meant to be heavy toward the strong side (TE side) so the Strong Safety would set into a 7 technique (inside eye of TE) and the Free Safety would play center field (Diagram B). The Doublewing – Double TE,double wings- makes defenses play even up.

Diagram A

Diagram A

Diagram B

Diagram B

Now here is the silver bullet that takes down the Bear. It’s called the Toss (aka Pitch, Blast, Power). I will show 3 flavors of the same play, all guaranteed to send Defensive Coordinators into therapy.

  • Traditional – The first way is the traditional FB vs. DE kick- out type. Starting with Center, onside Guard and Tackle, who all domino down block next man. Onside TE aim for near LB but be sure to get offside LB. The Fullback kicks out DE. The QB gets CB. Backside pullers clean up missed blocks. Backside TE – downfield gets a pursuer. Ball carrier zones in on FB’s butt – cut it up. The natural bubble that the Bear gives is an open invitation to the Toss play’s strength. (Diagram C).
Diagram C

Diagram C

  • Tunnel – The second way to block this with success is to go to a “tunnel” block by the TE. He will set his body much like a passing cup block and give the DE the up field outside route, riding him out of harm’s way. If nothing else, he keeps his body in front of the DE. The Wing can, if needed, double-team him (especially if he is a stud). But can get the CB if not needed. The QB then gets the Safety. The FB now goes up into the “tunnel” to take on the LB. All other blocks are the same. The advantage to this is that it neutralizes the wide 9 technique, and again it attacks where the defense “is not”. The soft bubble over the C-gap created by the T, NT is a great target, especially if you make a living eating up defense 4-5 yards at a time. (Diagram D).
Diagram D

Diagram D

  • G-Toss – The third way is a little strange. It is an attempt to get a “big on big” match up vs. a very large DE. We call this our “G-Toss” because we pull an onside guard to kick out the DE. The wing gets the Safety, QB gets the CB, TE gets the LB, but is also helped with a double-team by the FB. (This scheme is also good if that LB is a stud.) The onside Tackle down blocks. The center is left with two defenders, which he will “scramble-block” (moving cut block) both with help from a reaching cut block by the backside TE. (Diagram E).
Diagram E

Diagram E

The scheme you choose should be based on your scouting report of who is worthy of blocking, or even double-teaming. You should also factor in your blocking strengths by position. Choose a match-up that you will win consistently.

If you are a true Doublewinger, you should salivate at the natural gaps, mismatched set-ups and beautiful angles that the Bear gives your offense. Be patient – explore the 3 different types of attack. The Doublewing is naturally superior because it forces the Bear to even up and “show the cards”. It is here where you go for the throat. Keep pounding the breach and, sooner more than later, you should begin to break big runs, multiple scores and start the landslide of a blow out win.

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