Bears will present different look with Marshall

They will bunch things up in an effort to free receiver on crossing route

In the Bears' victory over the Vikings, Jay Cutler and the offense leaned on the Spot route (Corner-Flat-Curl combination) to target Brandon Marshall in third-and-2 to -6 situations. Look for the Bears to add some window dressing Sunday in their alignments to run the same concept versus the Seahawks secondary.

As shown here, the Bears have their Regular personnel (two wide receivers, one tight end, two backs) on the field in a Pro Strong I alignment. The Seahawks counter with their base 4-3 front playing Cover-1 (man-free) in the secondary. Using motion, the Bears will create a bunch alignment and look to hit Marshall on the X Spot.

Window dressing

NFL offenses may look complex, but they often flip formations and alignments to dress up basic concepts. With the Spot route already on tape for the Seahawks to study, the Bears will align Marshall (X) to the open side of the formation in a reduced or nasty split (inside of the numbers) and bring him back across the field replacing the closed side curl. The goal is to give the Seahawks a new look at the line of scrimmage and run the same route combination (Corner-Flat-Curl).

Breaking down route

The idea behind the Spot route is to clear a hole for the curl (or spot) out of a bunch alignment. With Earl Bennett (Z) using a short divide motion, the Bears will create a bunch (Z,Y,F) to the closed side of the formation. Kellen Davis (Y) will release vertically up the field and stem to the 7 cut (corner), with Evan Rodriguez (F) bursting to the flat. Inside, the Bears are running a Hi-Lo crossers concept with Marshall and Bennett to bring the X receiver back to the closed side curl.

Creating leverage

Seahawks cornerbacks Brandon Browner (RC) and Richard Sherman (LC) both possess size and length at the line of scrimmage. However, Cover-1 corners are taught to align with an outside shade (use free safety help). At the snap, Marshall will take a hard, inside release and push across the field to work away from Browner's leverage, with Bennett creating a possible "pick" or "rub" situation in the middle of the field. The Bears want to force the cornerbacks to bubble over contact and create leverage with Marshall to run the crossing route.

Primary reads

Based on the down and distance, Cutler will look to target Marshall as his primary read once the receiver separates from Browner. However, with Rodriguez working to the flat off play action, Cutler can hit the F for a positive gain if the Sam Backer (S) in coverage sticks his eyes in the backfield. These are two quick reads for Cutler that will allow the Bears to move the sticks.

Hiding Marshall

The X Spot is just one example of the Bears using multiple pre-snap alignments to get Marshall the ball in passing situations. And after seeing Cutler target Marshall 17 times in the victory over the Vikings, expect this to continue until another receiving threat emerges in the offense.

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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