Let’s talk Jets-Bears. Five things that stood out from my perspective from the Bears’ 38-34 win over the Jets at Soldier Field.
1. Cutler’s big plays: I didn’t see this coming from the Bears’ QB. But, outside of the ball that was picked by Dwight Lowery early in the game (and taken back for a score) Cutler made big pays against a very aggressive Jets' secondary. Three TD passes all coming in vertical route schemes. Twice he hit the inside seam vs. man coverage. On TD No.3, Cutler targets WR Johnny Knox on a double move down the sideline. The key to that play? Cutler looks off the FS and allows Knox to stack Antonio Cromartie down the field. The Bears’ QB had time to throw today and used his feet to escape lateral pressure--while keeping his eyes down the field. Not overly efficient numbers (13-25 for 215 yards), but the 2nd half TD throws were big.
ICONSanchez had success vs. the Bears' Cover 1 and Cover 2 schemes today.
2. The Jets passing schemes: I was impressed by the ability of New York to work over this Bears' secondary for the majority of the afternoon. When they saw Cover 1 (single high safety in the middle of the field), the Jets ran the slant, the 5-yard china (square in) and the dig. Inside breaking routes that work away from outside leverage. When they saw Cover 2, they ran the multiple combination routes that sat receivers down in the holes of the zone. Until late in the game—when the Bears challenged the Jets in back-to-back 3rd down situations on the outside—Mark Sanchez put up numbers (24-37-269) against a top tier defense.
3. Forte: One thing we should point out is how the Bears used Forte from a game plan perspective in the passing game. The Jets will use overload pressure schemes—and the result is a line backer that will “pressure rush," and have the back in coverage. Mike Martz used the “rail route” in those situations (same route scheme we saw with Marshall Faulk in St. Louis). Get Forte matched up with a LB down the seam or by stemming the route outside of the numbers. Either way, it is a matchup the Bears can win. 169-yards of total offense (113-yards rushing) for the Bears running back who has become a major factor in this offense the second half of the season.
4. Hester’s impact: It seems like I write this every week when we talk about the Bears’ special teams, but why punt to Devin Hester? Why give him the chance to change field position in a crucial game for both teams? The Bears have an elite special teams unit because they stay on blocks throughout the return. But it still comes back to Hester’s ability to get up field and make the defenders miss in the open field. Having played special teams in the NFL, I can tell you that no matter how much prep time you put into coverage throughout the week, it all comes down to tackling on special teams—and that is a major issue vs. Hester.
5. The Harris’ INT: Go back to the last play for the Jets. With a 2x2 set, you would expect to see 4 verticals vs. the Bears’ Cover 2. The same route scheme that has given this defense issues all season long (think end of the half vs. New England). But, the Jets run a 9 (fade), curl combo to the closed side of the formation. With no inside vertical threat, Harris can get to his landmark (top of the numbers), read the QB and drive on the football. That is training camp tape right there—and exactly how it is drawn up on the chalkboard.
Check back to the NFP from my Giants-Packers game notes following the late afternoon kickoff.
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