Jennings key to Bears containing Peterson

Cornerback must take on pulling guard and turn play inside toward linebacker-safety pursuit

After the way the 49ers manhandled the Bears on Monday night in San Francisco, Lovie Smith's defense should prep for the Vikings to feature Adrian Peterson in the running game Sunday at Soldier Field. It will face downhill schemes that test the gap control of the Bears seven- and eight-man fronts.

As shown here, the Vikings have their Tank personnel (one wide receiver, two tight ends, two running backs) on the field in a Big Wing alignment with an I-formation in the backfield. The Bears counter with their base 4-3 personnel in an Over front playing Cover-2 in the secondary. The Vikings will look to run the G Lead, kick out the force player and create a running lane for Peterson.

The G Lead

The G Lead is a two-back power scheme with the closed (strong) side guard pulling to kick out the edge force of the defense. Similar to a Power O scheme (pull backside guard), the Vikings are creating a running lane playing downhill football. With the two tight end formation (Big Wing), the Vikings can block down, pull the guard and lead up through the hole with the fullback. There's no window dressing or false keys here. Line up, come off the ball and let Peterson go to work.

Gap control defense

In Smith's defense, the Bears defend the run by filling gaps and controlling cutback lanes. To the closed side of the formation, cornerback Tim Jennings (LC) is the edge or force player versus the G Lead, defensive end Corey Wootton (LE) plays the D gap and Sam Backer Nick Roach (S) fills the C gap. With Henry Melton (DT) attacking the down block from the right tackle, Mike Backer Brian Urlacher (M) has to defeat the second-level block of the center and scrape to the ball.

Setting the edge

Jennings has to bring his varsity pads to the stadium Sunday to set the edge of the defense and turn this play back inside. This is tough work in the box. Jennings can't widen at the snap, give ground or allow the run to bounce to the outside. He has to attack the outside knee of the pulling guard, shorten the edge of the defense and force Peterson back to the inside pursuit.

Tracking the fullback

In Cover-2 versus a Big Wing alignment, Major Wright (SS) is a primary run defender. At the snap, Wright will read his run/pass keys (High Hat-Low Hat), take a downhill angle and track the fullback (F). If Wright is late with his initial read (down block) or hesitates at the snap, this play could pop to the second level of the defense.

Secondary run support

On tape, Peterson continues to show the ability to set up blocks, use his vision and find running lanes. Chris Conte (FS) must take an angle that allows him to play the second level cutback and Charles Tillman (RC) has to be the last line of defense if Peterson breaks a run. It's all hands on deck when the best running back in the NFL comes to town.

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 nationalfootballpoSst.com.

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