The Bears can continue to be aggressive on defense Sunday night by disguising their blitz looks and bringing pressure against the Eagles. Think of zone schemes that challenge the protection count and take away throwing lanes for quarterback Nick Foles.
As shown here, the Eagles have their Posse (or 11) personnel on the field (three wide receivers, one tight end, one running back) in a Doubles Slot Formation with LeSean McCoy offset to the open (weak) side. The Bears counter with their Nickel sub package (five defensive backs) showing a Double A gap blitz in their pre-snap alignment. The Bears will send five-man pressure, roll the coverage and match to the Eagles semi-curl concept.
Double A gap disguise
- Bio | Recent columns
- What Sunday's slate of games means for Bears
- Eagles' success no surprise to Jerry Azumah
- Info graphic: NFC playoff picture
- Chicago Bears
- Philadelphia Eagles
See more topics »
Lincoln Financial Field, 1 Lincoln Financial Field Way, Philadelphia, PA 19147, USA
Halas Hall, Washington Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045, USA
Soldier Field, 1410 Museum Campus Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
The Double A gap disguise is showing up across the league because it forces offenses to change (or adjust) their protection scheme to account for the inside linebackers. Here, both James Anderson (M) and Lance Briggs (W) align in the A gaps with the safeties showing man-pressure in the secondary. The idea is to create some confusion inside and look to get a free rusher off the edge while dropping into a zone shell.
Breaking down zone blitz
To the closed (strong) side of the formation, Isaiah Frey (N) stems to a blitz alignment and rushes off the edge with Julius Peppers (LE) and Jeremiah Ratliff (DT) on the "TEX" stunt (tackle and end stunt). To the open side, Corey Wootton (NT) scoops to a contain technique with Briggs blitzing to the A gap. This gives the Bears a five-man rush as both Shea McClellin (RE) and Anderson drop into coverage at the snap.
In the majority of zone pressures at the NFL level, the defense will create a three-deep, three-under zone shell in the back end. Both cornerbacks, Tim Jennings (LC) and Zack Bowman (RC), play a fire zone outside one-third technique (match to No. 1 vertical) with free safety Chris Conte (FS) dropping to the deep-middle third to give the Bears a three-deep coverage. Underneath, McClellin and strong safety Major Wright (SS) play the seam-flat technique (match to No. 2) with Anderson dropping to the middle-hook (match to No. 3).
Matching to semi-curl concept
With no guarantee that the blitz gets home, the Bears have to match the route concept. To the open side, Bowman plays from an outside leverage position and funnels DeSean Jackson (X) on the dig route to the safety help in the middle of the field. To the closed side, Jennings plays Riley Cooper (Z) on the curl, Wright drives top-down versus Jason Avant (H) on the flat and Anderson matches to tight end Brent Celek (Y) on the inside vertical seam.
Game planning offense
This Eagles offense under Chip Kelly will use a variety of schemes and personnel groupings. Whether that is a series of packaged plays (run/pass option), the West Coast passing concepts or the inside zone scheme that highlights the talent and lateral quickness of McCoy in the run game, this is a tough matchup for the Bears against an up-tempo system. The ability of Mel Tucker's unit to create pressure versus Foles and play opportunistic football in the secondary is key to getting closer to the NFC North title with a victory on the road.
Special contributor Matt Bowen spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety. He covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.