Just let Jeffery go high for reception

QB McCown can look to weak side with receivers Marshall and Jeffery working in tandem

The Bears and quarterback Josh McCown can continue to take shots down the field to Alshon Jeffery by creating matchups for the receiver versus the Cowboys single-high safety defenses.

As shown here, the Bears have their Posse (or 11) personnel on the field in a Doubles formation with Jeffery (H) and Brandon Marshall (X) aligned in a wide stack to the open (weak) side. The Cowboys counter with their base nickel sub package (five defense backs) playing Cover-3 (three-deep, four-under) in the secondary. The Bears will look to remove the corner, occupy the free safety and create a one-on-one matchup for Jeffery on the switch release down the field.

Jeffery's development

Jeffery's ability to use his size/leverage (6-foot-3, 216 pounds) to gain separation back to the football in the intermediate passing game is understandable. But I'm more focused on the speed and catch radius the second-year player showcases down the field at the point of attack. Jeffery lit up the Vikings in Week 13 and he consistently goes up to high-point the football in the vertical route tree. He's a player who gives the Bears opportunities to flip the field because of the favorable matchups he presents in the game plan.

Route breakdown

The Bears want to work the ball to the stack alignment on the open side of the formation to pick up an explosive play. At the snap, Marshall (X) releases up the field from his top of the numbers split and breaks to the post between a depth of 12 to 15 yards. Jeffery releases under the initial stem of Marshall and carries the rail route up the field (outside the numbers). To the closed side, tight end Martellus Bennett (Y) stays in on protection with Earl Bennett (Z) running the intermediate dig route (square-in) and Matt Forte (R) releasing as a check-down option.

Targeting Cover-3

To get Jeffery in a one-on-one matchup, the Bears have to occupy the top of the secondary and force the curl-flat rookie defender B.W. Webb (N) to run versus the rail route. With Marshall working to the post, cornerback Orlando Scandrick (RC) is coached to squeeze the route from an outside leverage position and funnel the receiver to free safety Barry Church (FS) in the middle of the field. And with the top of the secondary removed, McCown can target Jeffery outside the numbers in a matchup the receiver can win. Put the ball up and let Jeffery go get it.

McCown's secondary reads

The Bears are in the ideal position to take a shot down the field with the ball in plus territory at the 40-yard line. However, if Scandrick passes off the post to Church and plays over the top of the rail route outside of the numbers, McCown can look to the closed side of the formation. With Bennett running the intermediate dig over the top of the linebackers, and Forte releasing out of the backfield, the Bears quarterback has other options within the route scheme to unload the ball.

Cowboys' Cover-2 defense

Under coordinator Monte Kiffin, the Cowboys have transitioned to the Cover-2 scheme. The Bears will see the same two-deep looks Mel Tucker's unit runs along with the single-high safety defenses (Cover-1, Cover-3) and five-man zone pressures. The Bears should be able to challenge the Cowboys with Cover-2 beaters (Flat-7, Four Verticals) and identify pressure in both base and nickel sub-packages. There will be opportunities for McCown to test this defense down the field and generate points in a game the Bears have to get if they want to stay alive in the playoff discussion for another week.

Special contributor Matt Bowen spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety. He covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.

Twitter @MattBowen41

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