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.
- Bio | Recent columns
VOTE: Bears-Vikings ... who ya got?
Who wins on Sunday?
Bears win big (974 responses)
Bears win close (901 responses)
Vikings win close (117 responses)
Vikings win big (38 responses)
TIE! (12 responses)
2042 total responses
(Results not scientific)
This poll is closed to voting.
- Urlacher's sour grapes unbecoming
- VIDEO: Video: Bears reporters discuss Tillman, Peppers' absences
- Video: No 'sigh of relief' for Trestman
Halas Hall, Washington Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045, USA
Soldier FIELD, 1410 Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, IL 60605, USA
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.