View Full Version : Newsflash.

09-16-2007, 01:21 AM
--------------> KC's LJ has a different style than LT


September 14, 2007
By Gene Chamberlain

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Bears' defensive plan remains the same this week, even if the opposing running backs' styles and offensive schemes drastically change.

Instead of facing LT -- aka San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson -- they face LJ -- aka Kansas City's Larry Johnson at Soldier Field in a 3:15 p.m. start (CBS).

"I would say the only thing is LT, I think, is faster than him, but once Larry Johnson gets in the open field he does have the ability to put moves on guys and make you miss," Bears defensive coordinator Bob Babich said. "Last week a big part of our plan was to have proper (tackling) leverage on LT and we need to make sure we do that with Larry this week."

Bears nose tackle Anthony Adams has first-hand knowledge of Johnson.

"LJ's a long-stride runner, I played with him at Penn State and LT is more of a slasher, quick guy," Adams said.

At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Johnson has height and weight edge over the 5-foot-10, 221-pound Tomlinson, who was held to 25 yards by the Bears last week. Johnson is also less experienced, now in his fifth season and third as starter.

Like the Bears' Cedric Benson, Johnson toiled behind another back, Priest Holmes, until getting a chance in his third season, 2005. He gained 1,750 yards on 336 carries, and then last year set the NFL record with a classical workhorse effort of 416 carries. He gained 1,789 yards.

"When I came in, everyone was anti-Larry Johnson when I first got here," Johnson said. "You kind of had to win the crowd over as far as your play because any mistake you did, they would point out, 'That's why we don't need him here, that's why we didn't want him here.'

"As soon as I had the opportunity to seize it, then it (drafting Johnson) made more sense."

Like Tomlinson, Johnson is a receiving threat, averaging 10.0 yards per reception or more each of the last three seasons.

"We've got to tackle him, get a lot of guys to the football like we did last week and just get him on the ground and keep playing hard," Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said.

The Bears' defensive scheme is ideal for stopping a power back like Johnson because they penetrate and try to get to a back before he can build up a head of steam.

However, if they get out of their lanes of responsibility and Johnson gets heading downhill, it gets dangerous. The Bears experienced this when Edgerrin James powered for 204 yards against them in 2004 and Jerome "The Bus" Bettis gained 101 in 2005.

"Larry Johnson is almost deceptive," linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer said. "You watch him on the film and he doesn't look blazing fast, but you don't see anybody catching him. He doesn't look like a huge power runner, but you just see people bouncing off of him.

"So he's obviously doing something right. He breaks a lot of tackles, he gets tough yards, he runs downhill. He's a great player."

Preventing Johnson from running downhill is the key.

"The key is always to stop them first and then move on from there," Hillenmeyer said. "So regardless of whether you're facing a guy that's a total power guy like Bettis vs. a speed guy, if their offense is built around the running back there's going to be a certain way you're going to try to attack that."

Johnson was held last week to 43 yards on 10 carries by Houston, and gained another 44 yards on seven catches as the Chiefs played catch-up most of the day.

If his reputation is well known to a Bears team which faced him only in 2003 in mop-up duty (26 yards, 7 carries) during a Chiefs 31-3 season-ending romp, the knowledge is mutual. And Johnson thinks he can handle them better than Tomlinson did.

"Any time you go against the Chicago Bears, you really have to lace them up and you are going to take some shots," Johnson said. "Whether you like it or not, you are going to have to go down there and face it. I think LaDainian's style, he's elusive and he'll try to run away from that. When you can't do that, then it doesn't leave you much of an out.

"With the Bears, they know my running style. I'm going to come at you until either one of us go down. It's going to be like that all the way through the fourth quarter. That's the challenge that I like: what can I do against the Chicago Bears that LaDainian didn't do?"

The Bears' defense thinks it has the answer.

-- Sun-Times News Group

Zeke Ziggle
09-16-2007, 04:23 AM
"We've got to tackle him, get a lot of guys to the football like we did last week and just get him on the ground and keep playing hard," Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said.

It seems as if Chicago has a semi decent defensive plan. If only our offense was this simplified.