If the Bears fail to get home with a four man rush Sunday night at Pittsburgh, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker once again will have to dial up some zone pressure to collapse the pocket versus Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Using the All-22 coaches tape, let's take a look at how Roethlisberger identified the zone blitz against the Bengals and targeted his hot read on a sight adjust slant route.
This blitz should look familiar to Bears fans with the Bengals sending open (or weak) side zone pressure out of their base nickel package (five defensive backs) versus the Steelers Ace personnel (two wide receivers, two tight ends, one running back) in a Unit Wing alignment.
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The Bengals blitz free safety Reggie Nelson and the Will linebacker to create a five-man rush while dropping six into coverage — with Mike Backer Ray Maualuga buzzing to the open side seam-flat.
The Steelers have a "sail" route (fade-corner-flat) called to the closed side of the formation. However, once Roethlisberger identifies the pressure, he checks to the one-step slant (hot read) to target Emmanuel Sanders.
When NFL offenses check to a sight adjust route (convert route versus pressure), the ball is going to come out quickly. Sanders takes a one-step release and breaks inside to find the hole between the cornerback and the Mike Backer. This allows Roethlisberger to look up his hot read and dump the ball before Nelson can get to him on the blitz.
Sanders makes this catch and turns the slant route into a positive gain when the Mike Backer overruns the angle to the ball.
The Bears will have to account for the quick hot reads against Roethlisberger Sunday night in their zone pressure schemes. However, the goal should be to play coverage in passing situations (Cover-2, Cover-3) by winning up front versus a Steelers offensive line that has struggled in the first two weeks of the season.
Special contributor Matt Bowen spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety. He covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.