Click here for the entire Inside the Playbook series.
Earlier this offseason, I talked about the Bears using Devin Hester in a slot role after the club traded for Brandon Marshall. Work with a “two-way go” on the release, target holes in zone coverage (think Cover 2 here) and use his skill set to run route concepts in the middle of the field.
Plus, with the addition of another size/speed WR in rookie Alshon Jeffery, aligning Hester as a slot player is the ideal way to get him the football from my perspective. Create matchups and move the sticks.
Today, let’s take a look at Hester aligned in the slot running the 7 (corner) route vs. the Cowboys inside of the red zone. Check out the video and then we will get into some coaching points.
Bears vs. Cowboys
Personnel: Ace (2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB)
Formation: I Slot
Route Concept: Smash-7
– The Bears have Ace personnel on the field, however, they are in a slot formation with the “U” TE (2nd TE in the game) aligned as the FB (F). Use quick play action here with the Lead Strong run fake to the closed (strong) side of the formation to set up the route.
– Check out Hester’s alignment. It is a small thing that often gets overlooked, but when you see the No.2 WR aligned on the ball to the slot side, expect to see the 7 route in the red zone.
– The ‘Smash-7’ concept shows up all over the NFL on Sundays. You will see it vs. Cover 2 (or Tampa 2) teams in the red zone out of mulitple alignments and personnel groupings. Use the ‘Smash’ to force the CB to squat in the flat and create a one-on-one matchup at the top of the route stem vs. the safety. If the CB doesn’t sink hard to protect the safety, the WR on the 7 cut has room to work in the corner of the end zone.
– Hester takes a vertical release, works off the jam vs. the underneath defender (Cowboys bring the closed side CB over to play the seam-hook drop) and then give the safety a slight inside stem to set up the break back to the 7.
– Because the Cowboys open (weak) side CB doesn’t get enough depth, Bears QB Jay Cutler can put the ball in the corner of the end zone and allow Hester to go make the play. Great finish here on a basic concept.
Follow me on Twitter: @MattBowen41