Scouting the Bears
5:12 PM CST, December 15, 2012
The Bears and offensive coordinator Mike Tice will have to work hard Sunday to mix Brandon Marshall's pre-snap alignments versus the Packers' 2-Man coverage. Think of matchups that target the two-deep, man-under defense and provide quarterback Jay Cutler with a deep primary read in passing situations.
As shown here, the Bears have their Posse personnel on the field (three wide receivers, one tight end, one running back) in a Doubles Slot Exchange formation with Marshall aligned as the No. 2 to the closed (strong) side of the field. The Packers counter with their 2-4-5 sub package look (two defensive linemen, four linebackers, five backs) playing 2-Man in the secondary. The Bears will run the OVS (Outside Vertical Stretch) and target Marshall on the corner route.
The 2-Man technique is similar to Cover-2 but with man principles underneath. Both Morgan Burnett (SS) and M.D. Jennings (FS) will drop to the top of the numbers and play the deep halves of the field. Underneath, the defensive backs and linebackers in coverage are taught to use a trail technique. They will sit low to the inside hip of the receiver, read the break and drive underneath the route. And with safety help over the top they are protected versus the deep vertical concepts (fade, post, corner). Essentially, the Packers are playing man-to-man defense with a tent on top of the secondary.
The OVS is a three-level route designed to put stress on Cover-2, Cover-3 and 2-Man. The Z receiver, Devin Hester, will take a hard outside release and work up the field on the 9 (fade) route with Marshall (H) stemming to the post and then breaking out on the sharp 7 cut (corner) route. With tight end Kellen Davis (Y) bursting to the flat, the Bears have a three-level look to the closed side of the formation. To the open (weak) side, rookie Alshon Jeffery (X) will use a straight vertical stem and break back inside of the deep dig route (square-in) with Matt Forte (R) hitting the open (weak) side flat on a check-release out of the backfield.
Clearing out the safety
To defeat 2-Man, offenses will work to occupy the deep half safety outside of the numbers. Here, the Bears will use Hester on the 9 route to push Burnett down the field. The idea is to force the safety to open his hips and lean over the top of No. 1. With the underneath defenders playing "trail-man" (inside leverage position), Marshall can stem to the post, create some separation and then break back outside to the numbers. This is the matchup the Bears want: Marshall one-on-one versus a defensive back playing with inside leverage on the corner route.
This is only a four-man rush package from the Packers with both inside linebackers removed in coverage. Forte will scan the protection and look to help left tackle J'Marcus Webb with a chip block before he releases to the flat. However, the OVS takes time to develop down the field. If Cutler feels pressure, he will have to scramble or take the sack. That can't happen when you only have to block four.
Multiple defensive packages
The 2-Man defense is just one of the coverages Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers will throw at the Bears. Cutler should expect to see some single high safety looks and a variety of pressure fronts. However, until the Bears show they can move the ball versus 2-Man, the Packers have no reason to vacate the coverage that gave Cutler and the offense issues in the Week 2 loss at Lambeau Field.
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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