Scouting the Bears
8:35 PM CST, December 27, 2012
The Bears should expect the ball to go to Calvin Johnson on Sunday when they go against the Lions. Watch for the intermediate to deep route tree with concepts that put stress on the safeties in Cover-2 and test the technique of the underneath defenders.
Using the All-22 coaches tape, here is an example of how the Lions attacked the Falcons two-deep shell last week and targeted Johnson on the "Sucker" route.
The Lions have their Ace personnel (two wide receivers, two tight ends, one running back) on the field in a Doubles Slot alignment with a stack look to the closed (strong) side of the formation. The Falcons counter with their sub-package playing Cover-2 in a two-minute situation. In the "Sucker" concept, the Lions will set the bait for the nickel back with the short curl, clear out the inside vertical defender with the seam route and run Johnson on the deep dig (square-in). The idea is to align Johnson out of position (No. 2 to the closed side) and create a hole in the zone coverage.
With the inside vertical defender now removed against the tight end, quarterback Matthew Stafford will read the drop of the nickel back. If he sinks with depth to cushion Johnson, Stafford will target the curl. However, once the nickel back attacks downhill to the curl, the quarterback has an open throwing window to hit Johnson on the dig route.
On the end zone angle, we can see the opening the Lions have created for Johnson between the nickel back and the front of the deep half safety. On Sunday, the Bears likely will see similar concepts designed to beat Cover-2. Technique and discipline will be key in the secondary to limiting the league's top offensive threat.
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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