The Bears defense has game-planning options Sunday at Arizona versus rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley. By showing different looks at the line of scrimmage, the Bears can roll the secondary, bring zone pressure and try to steal one in third-down passing situations.
As shown here, the Cardinals have their Posse personnel (three wide receivers, one tight end, one back) on the field in a Double Slot formation with Larry Fitzgerald aligned as the backside X receiver. The Bears counter with their base nickel personnel (four linemen, two linebackers, five defensive backs) and bring pressure to the closed side of the formation. With the Cardinals running the Tare concept, the Bears can stem from their Cover-2 shell and drive the routes.
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The Bears are showing Cover-2 in the secondary with the safeties aligned on the top of the numbers and the corners in a press position. However, they will roll the coverage at the snap. The idea is to show the rookie quarterback a base concept at the line of scrimmage and then bring pressure with zone defenders closing down throwing lanes.
Cardinals' route scheme
The Tare concept is a classic NFL route out of a three-by-one alignment in third-down situations. The No. 1 receiver to the closed side of the formation, rookie Michael Floyd (Z), will release outside and run the clear out 9 (fade) route. Inside, the Cardinals are working a two-level read with tight end Rob Housler (Y) on the intermediate curl and slot receiver Andre Roberts (H) on the quick flat route. To the open side of the formation, Fitzgerald (X) will run the one-step slant.
In this zone blitz, the Bears are only rushing five. However, the key is to cause some pre-snap confusion in the Cardinals' protection count. At the snap, Julius Peppers (RE) will drop into coverage (seam-flat defender) with the defensive tackle (DT) and nose tackle (NT) working to opposite gaps. To the closed side, Corey Wootton (LE) will use a long scoop technique to occupy the interior of the Cardinals offensive line with Nick Roach (M) and D.J. Moore (N) adding to the blitz front. If the Cardinals don't scan the running back (R) to the blitz side, the Bears could have a free run at Lindley.
If the blitz doesn't get home or if Lindley throws hot, the Bears have to take away the Tare concept. Strong safety Major Wright (SS) will play a "bronco" technique (read No. 2 to No. 3) and drive the throw to the flat with Lance Briggs (W) matching to the tight end as the middle hook player. This is an opportunity for Briggs to step directly into the throwing lane and make an impact play if Lindley fails to read backside while targeting the tight end.
The backside of a three-by-one formation in the NFL is an automatic alert to the slant route. With Fitzgerald aligned in a plus split (three yards outside of the numbers), Charles Tillman (RC) can slide to an inside shade versus the wide receiver to eliminate the inside release. Remember, offensive formations and wide receiver splits tell you a story. The Bears have to take away the slant and prevent Lindley from targeting his top wide receiver on an easy read.
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.