The Bears should expect multiple blitz packages from the Cardinals on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals use a 3-4 attacking defense that will bring inside pressure to target protection schemes and force the quarterback to unload the ball.
Using the All-22 coaches tape, here is an example of how the Lions countered the Cardinals' double A gap zone blitz in their Week 15 matchup.
The Lions have their Ace personnel (two receivers, two tight ends, one back) on the field in a Doubles alignment. To the closed side of the formation, the Lions are running the Levels combination (Hi-Lo) with Calvin Johnson matched up against cornerback Patrick Peterson. The Cardinals are showing their base 3-4 front and will roll to their coverage drops with both inside linebackers attacking the A gaps. The idea is to rush five, drop six into coverage and create confusion in the protection count.
The Lions are using a six-man protection scheme versus the blitz. With both outside linebackers dropping into coverage at the snap, the Lions slide the protection to the open (weak) side of the formation. That leaves the right tackle to block the 5-technique defensive end with the right guard and running back picking up the inside linebackers rushing to opposite A gaps.
Peterson is a strong, physical cornerback who isn't afraid to play press coverage and compete. Johnson does create some leverage on his initial break back inside of the numbers, but Peterson is right there to make the tackle on the throw from Matthew Stafford. On Sunday, Brandon Marshall likely will draw the matchup of Peterson with the Cardinals bringing more pressure against the Bears' suspect offensive line. That means Jay Cutler has to read the blitz, check to his hot reads and get the ball out quickly.
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.