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Conte in stopping inside vertical routes

Bears free safety has to read mobile Seahawks QB to stop completion upon impact

Matt Bowen

Scouting the Bears

November 30, 2012

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The Seahawks and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson can put stress on the Bears' Cover-3 defense Sunday at Soldier Field by testing free safety Chris Conte with inside vertical concepts.

Using the All-22 coaches film, here is an example of how Wilson targeted wide receiver Sidney Rice for an explosive play running the Smash-Seam route against the Vikings' three-deep zone shell.

The Seahawks have their Posse personnel (three wide receivers, one tight end, one back) on the field in a Doubles Gun Weak alignment. The Vikings counter with their base nickel sub package (five defensive backs) playing Cover-3 (three-deep, 4-under) in the secondary. The Seahawks use play action (closed side run) with counter protection (false run key) to force the linebackers to the line of scrimmage. With the middle of the field open, Wilson can target the two inside seam routes as his primary reads.

In Cover-3, the cornerbacks have to read the release of No. 1 (smash route) and match to any inside vertical concept. With both the nickel and strong safety coached to re-route (jam) No. 2, the corners now will drive to the seam routes from an outside leverage position using their free safety help in the middle of the field.

The free safety has to drive at a downhill angle to affect this throw. However, Wilson steps up in the pocket, holds the safety in the deep middle of the field and delivers this ball for a positive gain. On Sunday, the Bears need Conte to produce in their single high safety defenses and maintain depth versus Wilson's ability to maneuver in the pocket. Think clean angles that allow Conte to read through the route stem and separate the receiver from the ball on contact.

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.