Scouting the Bears
8:29 PM CDT, September 12, 2013
As the Bears prepare for the Vikings on Sunday at Soldier Field, Jay Cutler and the offense should expect to see plenty of Cover-2 looks from Leslie Frazier's club.
Using the All-22 coaches tape from the Week 1 victory over the Bengals, let's examine how the Bears targeted Alshon Jeffery from an alignment and scheme perspective to beat Cover-2.
The Bears have their Ace personnel (two wide receivers, two tight ends, one running back) on the field in a Unit Slot alignment to create vertical passing lanes against the Bengals base 4-3 personnel in a Cover-2 shell.
To the open side of the formation, Brandon Marshall runs the deep 9 (fade) route with Jeffery on the inside seam from a slot alignment. Underneath, tight end Martellus Bennett works back to the closed side of the formation on an intermediate crossing route to hold the strong safety.
This allows Cutler to read the two vertical routes down the field and target the seam versus the free safety in the deep half and the Mike Backer trailing inside.
With Bengals free safety Reggie Nelson increasing his depth to play over the top of both Marshall and Jeffery as a deep half defender, Cutler now has a throwing lane between the numbers and the hash to look up the seam route.
Nelson is going to break downhill on the throw, but with the Mike Backer trailing from an inside leverage position, Cutler can put this ball on the back shoulder of Jeffery to expose the deep hole in the Cover-2 defense for an explosive gain.
On Sunday, the Bears once again can use their pre-snap alignments and personnel to create inside matchups against the Vikings Cover-2. And that leads to opportunities to produce in the middle of the field.
Special contributor Matt Bowen spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety. He covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.
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