A Broken Thumb, A Ruined Season #StoryTimeWithEarl

By Earl Bennett

Johnny Knox had world class speed. We often joked about his leg circumference and how small they were, yet he could outrun just about all of us. On the field, he was a crisp route runner using head nods and intermitting speeds to throw defensive backs off. But, Johnny had one Achilles heel, it was running a slant in cover 2 man.

Green Bay always knew that if they ran cover 2 man on us, it would give us problems. Other teams took heed and started to do the same. You slow up the speedy receivers in Devin and Johnny and force them to run out routes on 3rd down. We all knew it, but playing 2 man creates opportunities for slot players and running backs. So, we always had a game plan for this coverage except when we ran slant routes.

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They wanted us to still run a slant with cover 2 man. This is hard because the defender is heavy inside and his job is not to let you cross his face. I know it sounds like you have to just work them more at the line of scrimmage, but that does not work. They sit and wait. Therefore, sometimes Johnny would run the slant behind them and it cost us big time. Especially during the 2011 season against the San Diego Chargers.

We were riding a 4-game win streak and our hopes were high. Martz called his slant concept and we run it. Oh snap, its two man. We had worked crossing the defender’s face, but as I mentioned, that is nearly possible. Johnny tried, but was unsuccessful so as he tried to go behind him. Jay threw the ball and it was intercepted. Jay chases the corner back Antoine Cason down and tackles him. He finished the game, but was later diagnosed with a fractured thumb. Done for the season.

Initially, everyone wanted to blame Jay. Quarterbacks typically get most of the blame. Some want to blame Johnny for not continuing to fight across the DB’s face. Others will blame the offensive coordinator for not allowing an audible when the play is cover 2 man and we are running slants. I will blame everyone. No play, no interception. No throw, no interception. Johnny fights and breaks up pass, no interception.

What was almost another magical season ended with us missing the playoffs. Martz refused to change playbook after Cutler went down. We crumbled! A broken thumb on a bad route concept ruined the 2011 hopeful season.


Earl B. Bennett

About Earl B. Bennett

Earl B. Bennett is a retired NFL Wide Receiver who played six seasons with the Chicago Bears.