The Packers have shown the ability to run with Eddie Lacy and that has created balance for coach Mike McCarthy's game plan. Look for the Packers to test the Bears' front seven Monday night at Lambeau Field with the rookie running back and set up play-action opportunities for Aaron Rodgers versus the Cover-2 scheme.
As shown here, the Packers have their Posse personnel on the field (three wide receivers, one tight end, one running back) in Doubles Slot "Dakota" formation (3-by-1 alignment with the tight end removed as the backside receiver). The Bears counter with their base nickel sub package (five defensive backs) playing two-deep in the secondary. Rodgers will use play action to target the inside seam or the deep dig on the "sucker" concept.
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The rookie from Alabama is a physical, downhill runner with the ability to cut back, press the hole and get to the second level of the defense. Out of their three wide receiver personnel, the Packers will lean on the one-back power, the crack toss, inside zone and outside stretch to feature Lacy in the game plan. By establishing the run game, the Packers can force the Bears' underneath defenders to step to the line of scrimmage on play action. And that opens up throwing lanes for Rodgers.
The "sucker" is very similar to a "dagger" concept (seam, dig combination) from a 3-by-1 alignment with a flat route underneath to set the bait. To the open side of the formation, Jordy Nelson (X) runs the inside seam (and stems his route to the post) with Jarrett Boykin (Z) on the deep dig (breaks between 12 to 15 yards). In the slot, Myles White (H) runs underneath to the flat—in front of the nickel back. To the closed side, tight end Andrew Quarless (Y) releases down the field on the 9 (fade) route.
Nickel back's role
Bears nickel back Isaiah Frey (N) is key to defending the Packers' route concept. In Cover-2, the nickel has to sink a depth of 10 to 12 yards and cushion the deep dig route (this isn't the safety's play to make). With Mike Backer Jon Bostic (M) removed down the inside seam versus Nelson, Frey has to sink under Boykin on the dig route and force Rodgers to target the flat. However, if Frey jumps the flat, or sticks his eyes in the backfield versus play action, Rodgers will have a clear throwing window to target the dig route in the vacated seam-hook zone.
Inside speed versus Bostic
The Packers always have used personnel and alignment to target the Bears' Cover-2 defense with speed inside the numbers. With Nelson aligned as the No. 3 receiver to the open side (passing strength), Bostic has to match/carry the receiver down the field. And even with the help of free safety Chris Conte overlapping the throw to the middle of the field, this is still Bostic's play to make. Tough matchup for the rookie from Florida.
Execution crucial vs. Rodgers
The Bears could have to play more eight-man fronts to limit Lacy and the Packers running game, but regardless of the scheme called in the huddle, the overall execution of this defense has to improve to beat the Packers on the road. Rodgers is playing at a top-tier level — despite the multiple injuries the Packers have at the offensive skill positions — and his ability to place the ball away from the defender's leverage consistently shows up on tape every week. This won't be easy for a Bears defense traveling without Pro Bowl talent Lance Briggs. And it all comes back to the ability to execute the techniques of the defense.
Special contributor Matt Bowen spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety. He covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.