Going deep shouldn't be too big a stretch
Moving pocket can give Cutler chance to make vertical plays
Matt Bowen Scouting the Bears 11:44 p.m. CDT, October 15, 2011
The Bears can generate opportunities in the passing game by moving the pocket and targeting the Vikings with a three-level route scheme. The OVS concept (outside vertical stretch) is a Cover-3 beater when Jay Cutler has targets that break outside of the numbers.
In this diagram, the Bears have their Posse personnel (three wide receivers, one tight end, one running back) in the game against the Vikings' base 4-3 nickel front (four defensive linemen, two linebackers, five defensive backs). The Bears will use presnap motion to form a bunch look in a "Doubles Slot Open" formation.
The outside vertical stretch is a common route scheme creating three levels for the quarterback to read in his progression.
Here, the Bears have Johnny Knox (X) getting down the field on the 9 (fade) route with Devin Hester (Z) running the 7 (corner) route and Dane Sanzenbacher (W) on the quick option route. To the closed side, the Bears get the 7 route from tight end Kellen Davis (Y). This is all set up with the added window dressing of the presnap movement from Hester motioning back across the formation to create a bunch look.
Cover-3 is a four-under, three-deep zone concept. The three deep defenders (RC, LC, FS) will play the top of the vertical route tree. Underneath, the Sam and Mike linebackers (S, M) will play the inside "hook-seam" with the strong safety and nickel (SS, N) dropping to the "curl-flat" to the open and closed sides of the formation. However, as with any zone coverage, it has holes that can be exploited if you run the proper route concepts.
Target: Nickel back
The Bears want to take advantage of the open (weak) side curl to flat defender (N). With Knox running off the left cornerback on the 9 route, there are now two routes on the nickel: the 7 and option. If the nickel sinks and plays with depth, Cutler can hit Sanzenbacher in the flat. However, the Bears want to use Sanzenbacher to limit the drop of the nickel, force him toward the line of scrimmage and then target Hester off the 7 cut. This can lead to a productive vertical play.
The Bears can work away from Vikings defensive end Jared Allen (RE). By using the sprint concept, the Bears can move the pocket from Allen, avoid edge pressure against left tackle J'Marcus Webb and eliminate an interior push from the defensive line. Matt Forte (R) will align in a "chowed" look (outside leg of the tackle) and seal the open-side edge to give Cutler more time to work on the nickel back.
Cutler outside pocket
Cutler is at his best when he can throw on the run. The sprint game does work to eliminate pressure, but it also creates open throwing lanes for the quarterback. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz can adapt his play-calling to fit Cutler's skill set and provide opportunities to produce here. Plus, it keeps him off the ground.
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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