Using the All-22 coaches tape, here is an example of how the Bears rolled the pocket away from defensive end Jared Allen with Brandon Marshall as the primary read during their Week 12 victory over the Vikings at Soldier Field.
The Bears have their Regular personnel (two wide receivers, one tight end, two running backs) on the field versus the Vikings' base 4-3 defensive front playing Cover-2 in the secondary. With Marshall aligned in a reduced split (inside of the numbers) to the open (weak) side of the formation, the Bears use counter protection and roll Cutler away from Allen. The idea is to move the quarterback off of play action with Michael Bush releasing to the flat, Earl Bennett running the 9 (fade) and Marshall working back across the field on the crossing route.
With the Vikings playing Cover-2, the closed side cornerback sinks with No. 1 (Bennett) and drops the 9 route to the strong safety once Bush threatens in the flat. The Mike Backer, Jasper Brinkley, reads through the play action and rolls with Marshall on the crossing route back to the closed (strong) side of the formation. Once outside of the pocket, Cutler can dump the ball to Bush in the flat or target Marshall versus a linebacker.
This is a tight throwing window, but given the matchup Marshall presents with his size and length, Cutler threads this pass to his wide receiver for another positive gain. And with the Bears offensive line a consistent question mark, look for more play action and boot concepts Sunday to get Cutler to the edge of the defense where he can target his No. 1 guy.
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.