Two impact players on both sides of the ball.
In Week one, Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton tapped into his inner-John Randle and took down Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan a total of seven (two sacks, five QB hits) times.
Clearly, it was the most dominant performance by a Bears “three-technique” tackle since Tommie Harris was in his prime during the team’s Super Bowl run in ’06.
“I left a few sacks out there,” Melton said. “I was working to get those. It was fun. The D-line, we were all communicating and on the same page, and we were just relentless.”
Along with weak-side linebacker (Lance Briggs), the three-technique tackle defines the Cover-two scheme which Lovie Smith transferred from Tampa.
As for the other impact player, it’s on the offensive side of the ball – fullback Tyler Clutts.
Here’s all you need to know about Clutts’ determination: before Sunday’s game, he was in the workout room at the downtown hotel the team stays at during night, getting a workout in at 6:30 A.M.
In the 30-12 thrashing of the Dirty Birds, the fullback made two key blocks that setup a touchdown and a near-score which led to six points.
During the two longest pass plays of the game, Clutts got a key block on Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud and then defensive end Ray Edwards to help jolt Matt Forte for the 56-yard touchdown on a screen pass in the first quarter.
On Devin Hester’s 53-yard screen that ended one yard short of the end zone, Clutts was way downfield. His block on DeCoud at the 15-yard line gave Hester a clear shot at the corner of the end zone.
“You’re always in pursuit, always running never stopping,” Clutts said. “You’re never not hitting somebody. You’ve got to have that attitude. This coaching staff does a great job of emphasizing that.”
So how did the Bears find these two gems?
Henry Melton – Bears general manager Jerry Angelo: “We knew he was a top athlete. He played as a true freshman as a 270-pound running back at Texas on a national championship team. He didn’t start, but he scored 10 touchdowns. Moving forward, he didn’t have much of a role on offense. Our area scout, Chris Ballard, did a great job of tracking him. He knew [then-Texas defensive coordinator] Will Muschamp and Will told Chris that he asked coach [Mack] Brown if he could work with him on defense because he liked his size and athleticism. Henry played on defense a few years. As a senior, he really started to show some things. We saw him at an all-star game and liked his traits, but by no means was he a finished product. Henry didn’t go to the Combine, but he made approximately 13 pre-draft visits, the most of any non-Combine player. We put a lot of stock in what our scouts say. They do a ton of homework, and Chris put his stamp on him. He said: ‘This guy’s got all upside. He’s shown the toughness and work ethic needed to get to his ceiling, and if we’re patient with him, maybe we’ll have something.’ When our coaches got him, they were really intrigued and motivated to work with him. Henry has been a work in progress. It’s really good to see that he’s coming closer to that ceiling. It’s come through a lot of hard work on his part and a lot of special coaching as well.”
Tyler Clutts – Angelo: “He was really a Johnny-come-lately. We didn’t have him on our radar at all. It really just happened after that preseason game [versus Cleveland]. We liked him in that game, particularly our special teams coaches Dave Toub and Kevin O’Dea. We looked at the tape and he did a nice job. Our pro scouts also really liked him, so you had a real consensus. The unique thing is his background. (Clutts was a defensive end at Fresno State before playing in the CFL, AFL and UFL.) The thing you like about him is this guy has bounced around and he really appreciates being in the NFL. It was really a good job by everybody in finding him at the 11th hour. Watching what he did Sunday, in particular his blocking on the great runs after catch by Matt Forte and Devin Hester was pretty special.”