Post should work to Alshon Jeffery in red zone

Cutler can pick on Packers cornerback 1-on-1 with some help from Marshall and Bennett

  • Pin It

The Bears will see some Cover-4 from the Packers defense inside the red zone and that creates opportunities for quarterback Jay Cutler to target wide receiver Alshon Jeffery on the post route off the "dino" stem.

As shown here, the Bears have their Posse (or 11) personnel on the field (three wide receivers, one tight end, one running back) in a 2-by-2 Doubles "Orange" alignment (2-by-2 spread look). The Packers counter with their nickel sub package (five defensive backs) playing Cover-4 (or quarters) in the secondary. The Bears will run the "pin" route — one of the top Cover-4 beaters in the NFL — to clear out a throwing lane to Jeffery on the post.

Breaking down "pin" route

To the closed (strong) side of the formation, Jeffery (Z) runs the post with tight end Martellus Bennett (Y) breaking the dig route (square-in) in front of the strong safety at a depth of 10 to 12 yards. To the open side, Brandon Marshall (H) aligns in the slot and runs the shallow drive route (underneath crosser) with Eric Weems (X) on the 7 cut (corner route). Running back Matt Forte releases on the swing route to give Cutler a flat option to the open side.

Attacking Cover-4

In Cover-4, the safeties have to carry/match No. 2 past a depth of 12 yards. If there's no vertical threat inside, the safeties will look outside to bracket No. 1 (play to the inside hip of the receiver). Here, strong safety Morgan Burnett (SS) is in a tough spot. Does he jump Bennett on the dig or roll to Jeffery on the post? I have the Packers safety driving downhill on the tight end and that leaves cornerback Tramon Williams matched up versus Jeffery on the post with no help to the inside.

Jeffery's "dino" stem

Jeffery can create some separation versus Williams at the top of the route on the "dino" stem. The Bears wide receiver works to the corner and then breaks back inside on the post. The idea is to force Williams to widen on the stem to the corner or take a "bucket step" (step behind). That allows Jeffery to gain leverage on the post and box-out Williams at the point of attack. And with the strong safety now removed because of the dig route from Bennett, Jeffery can carry this route deep into the end zone to give Cutler a clear target on the post versus a defender playing from outside leverage.

Don't forget Marshall underneath

If Williams plays through the "dino" stem and stays on top of the post route, Cutler can look underneath to target Marshall on the shallow drive route. Out of a slot alignment, Marshall takes a hard inside stem to run the underneath crosser. If linebacker A.J. Hawk (M), squats inside, Marshall can carry this route across the formation. However, if Hawk gains depth (middle-hook defender in Cover-4) to cushion the dig route, Marshall can sit down in the vacated hole and showcase his ability to make a play after the catch.

Red-zone production crucial

With Aaron Rodgers back in the lineup, the Packers will have opportunities to put up some points. That puts extra stress on Cutler and the offense in the red zone, and they can't settle for field goals. Cutler has to take advantage of positive matchups inside of the 20-yard line and target the end zone to produce touchdowns.

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

Twitter @MattBowen41

  • Pin It

Local & National Video