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Titans pass defense will give Bears ample target

With alterations in normal receiver positioning, Cutler can hook up nicely with Marshall

Matt Bowen

Scouting the Bears

7:46 PM CDT, November 1, 2012

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The Bears have struggled this season to find answers for the 2-Man defense: A two-deep safety look with underneath defenders playing man coverage from an inside-leverage position. Jay Cutler and the offense can expect to see this defense again from the Titans. Using the All-22 coaches tape, here is an example of how the Colts beat the coverage last week.

Pre-snap alignment

Quarterback Andrew Luck and the Colts have their Jet personnel (four receivers, one back) on the field in a 3x1 trips alignment against the Titans' dime subpackage. The defensive backs will align with an inside shade, sit low to the hip of the receivers and undercut routes using the deep safety help over the top. With Colts receiver Reggie Wayne aligned as the No. 3 receiver to the closed (strong) side of the formation, the Colts are running the OVS (outside vertical stretch). This is a 9 (fade), 7 (corner), flat-route combination with Luck targeting Wayne on the corner route.

Breaking the 2-Man

Think outside breaking routes versus 2-Man. With the dime back sitting to the outside, Wayne can stem his route up the field and break to the corner with the defender now stuck in a trail position. Titans safety Michael Griffin will react downhill on the throw, but he has to keep his depth in the deep half with the fade route pressing up the sideline.

Opportunity knocks

The end-zone angle shows the finish from Wayne plus the leverage created by running an outside breaking route against trail-man technique. The Bears will have to mix the alignments of receivers Brandon Marshall and Earl Bennett to draw these matchups, but the opportunities will be there to pick up a productive play in the passing game.

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.