Bears' Dino stem could break Texans

Marshall can get isolated on cornerback and put him in difficult trailing position

To score points against the Texans' top-tier defense, Jay Cutler and the Bears will have to take some shots when they get into the strike zone (20- to 35-yard line). Look for deep inside breaking routes that target the secondary with Brandon Marshall as the primary read.

As shown here, the Bears have their Posse personnel (three wide receivers, one tight end, one running back) in a Doubles alignment against the Texans' base nickel sub package (five defensive backs). They will run the Dino Double Post and put stress on the top of the Texans' Cover-4 scheme.

Bears route scheme

The Dino Double Post is one of the top Cover-4 beaters in the NFL. There are two deep inside breaking routes to the open (weak) side of the formation with Earl Bennett (H) on the inside post and Marshall (X) adding the Dino stem (to corner, break to the post) on the outside post. To the closed (strong) side of the formation, tight end Kellen Davis (Y) runs the deep 7 (corner) route with Devin Hester (Z) on the shallow Smash concept.

Set bait for safety

In Cover-4 (four-deep, three-under), the safeties are taught to read the release and route stem of the No. 2 receivers (H, Y). If a No. 2 stems past a depth of 12 yards, the safeties match to the vertical concept. If a No. 2 breaks his route under a depth of 12 yards (curl, option, dig), the safeties look outside to No. 1 and drive to the inside hip on the post route to create a "bracket" coverage. However, with Bennett running the inside post, the safety (FS) has to match the route and leave the cornerback in a one-on-one situation versus Marshall. That's a tough assignment playing from an outside leverage position.

Targeting cornerback

Marshall likely will draw the matchup of Johnathan Joseph (RC). The Texans cornerback is one of the top players at the position because of his coverage skills and he can play from both a press and off-man alignment. Joseph will play off and to the outside (Cover-4 alignment) and run with the vertical from No. 1. But with the Dino stem, Marshall can create some separation and put Joseph in an outside trail position. By stemming to the corner, Marshall will force Joseph to widen and fade to the sidelines. He can stick Joseph to the outside and break the route back to the middle of the field away from the corner's leverage. That's the idea with the Dino stem.

Blocking Watt

The route scheme looks good against Cover-4 with two post routes that give Cutler targets deep down the field for six points. However, this is a multiple breaking route with Marshall — and that requires time in the pocket versus J.J. Watt (LE). The leading candidate for defensive player of the year has speed, power and athletic ability off the edge. The Bears will keep six in on protection with running back Matt Forte (R) chipping on Watt to give right tackle Gabe Carimi some help. This should provide some time for Cutler to set his feet and go to work.

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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