'Swap' boot provides many options — long and short

If Cutler can make right read quickly, he can do lot of damage on this 3rd-down-play

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The Bears can move quarterback Jay Cutler out of the pocket Sunday in Jacksonville using boot action on third down situations needing 2 to 6 yards. The Bears can establish the run, set the bait and win on crucial downs by giving Cutler multiple targets in the passing game.

As shown in the diagram, the Bears have their Ace personnel (two wide receivers, two tight ends, one running back) on the field in a Pro "Weak I" alignment. The Jaguars counter with their base 4-3 Cover-1 (man-free) scheme. The Bears will run the "Swap Boot" and look to pick up the first down.

Setting the bait

Before the Bears can go to the boot action, they must set the bait for the Jaguars' second-level defenders with their running game. That means running on early down-and-distance situations with Matt Forte (R) out of multiple two-back looks. Force the Jaguars' linebacker to anticipate the run and attack the line of scrimmage on the play-action.

Pre-snap alignments

Both Brandon Marshall (X) and Alshon Jeffery (Z) have to adjust their pre-snap splits to prep for the boot action. With the ball in the middle of the field, Jeffery will align with a "plus" split (three yards outside of the numbers), release to the outside and widen the corner back (LC). To the open side, Marshall will align in a reduced (or "nasty") split to work back across the formation.

"Swap" boot

The difference between the "Swap" boot and the regular boot action you see in the NFL is the fullback working underneath the line of scrimmage. In the Bears' offensive set, Kyle Adams (F) will step to the play-action side and come back across the formation behind the offensive line. With the linebackers keying the running back, Adams can run uncovered to the closed side flat.

Targets

Cutler can target Adams or Kellen Davis (Y) in the flat. However, there are big play opportunities in this route concept after the play fake. With Marshall working away from the defender's initial leverage (outside shade), Cutler can hit the wide receiver coming back across of the formation where he can get up the field after the catch. To the closed side, Jeffery will push the corner back vertically to create separation and break to the comeback at a depth of fifteen yards or continue down the field on the 9 (fade) route.

Reading closed-side DE

Cutler has to read the path of Jaguars' defensive end Jeremy Mincey (LE) after the play fake. If Mincey crashes down the line of scrimmage, Cutler can allow the routes of Marshall and Jeffery to develop. However, if Mincey recognizes the boot and rushes vertically up the field, Cutler must dump the ball to Adams or Davis once he releases as a secondary flat option. The Bears can't take a sack in a third-down situation, so Cutler has to be quick with his decision if Mincey applies immediate edge pressure.

Twitter @MattBowen41

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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