Packers will test Urlacher in red zone

Bears middle linebacker critical in effort to thwart double post

The Bears will show some Cover-2 "deep" inside the red zone Thursday night, rushing four, dropping seven into coverage and trying to force the ball underneath to the flat.

To counter that, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will align players out of position and target inside vertical routes to put stress on the Bears' two-deep shell.

As shown, the Packers have Posse personnel (three wide receivers, one tight end, one back) on the field versus the Bears base Nickel front (four defensive line, two linebackers, five backs). The Packers will run the double-post to create matchups in the end zone.

"Red" Cover-2

Out in the field, the Bears cornerbacks are taught to jam No. 1, re-route, force an inside release and sink hard at a forty-five degree angle before reacting to any throw in the flat.

Inside of the red zone, the Bears will play the technique of "Red" Cover-2. Both corners, Charles Tillman (RC) and Tim Jennings (LC) will sink at the snap, "carry" any vertical route and protect both safeties on a possible 7 (corner) route. With the Mike Backer, Brian Urlacher (M), running the inside vertical seam, the Bears are creating a five-across look on the goal line to force Rodgers to dump the ball underneath.

Packers pre-snap alignment

The Packers will use multiple alignments with their Posse personnel on the field. In this situation, tight end Jermichael Finley (Y) is moved as the No. 1 receiver to the closed (strong) side of the formation with wide receivers James Jones (Z) and Randall Cobb (W) in the slot to form a 3-x-1 set. To the open side of the formation, Jordy Nelson (X) aligns with a plus-split outside of the numbers.

Route breakdown

Finley (Y) will take a vertical release, stem to the 7 cut and then break on the post. Inside, Cobb (W) will burst to the flat with Jones (Z) running the post to the middle of the field. On the open side, Nelson will clear out with a 9 (fade) route to occupy free safety Chris Conte (FS) with running back Cedric Benson (R) acting as the check down option on the swing route.

Defending the double post

The stress is on strong safety Major Wright (SS) and middle linebacker Urlacher. Wright has to stay square on Finley's stem to the corner and break at an angle that puts him in a position to drive to the upfield shoulder. Inside of the numbers, the Packers are creating a one-on-one matchup with Jones versus Urlacher. The safeties will read the quarterback and "overlap" on any throw to the middle of the field. However, with both Wright and Conte occupied by vertical concepts outside of the numbers, Urlacher has to match to Jones and defend the inside post. This is his play to make in a tough spot against speed at receiver.

Twitter @MattBowen41

Special contributor Matt Bowen, who played at Glenbard West and Iowa, spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety. You also can find his work at nationalfootballpost.com.

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