Luck’s first test: Bears’ Cover 2 defense

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Checking out the new 2012 NFL schedule last night, my focus is on early season matchups—and personnel. Sure, we still need to see how the draft plays out, and which teams are healthy leading into the regular season. I understand that.

Andrew Luck ICONLuck will see plenty of Cover 2 from the Bears defense in Week 1.

However, with Andrew Luck expected to be the Colts No.1 overall pick next Thursday night, I can’t help but look at opening day for the rookie QB vs. the Bears.

Luck is going to see a defense at Soldier Field in Chicago that is built on speed. Play Cover 2, drop to a landmark and read the QB. This isn’t Rex Ryan’s scheme in New York, Dick LeBeau’s in Pittsburgh or Dom Caper’s in Green Bay. Complex defenses that lead with pressure, use multiple looks and align in a variety of personnel groupings.

Not with Lovie Smith. The Bears will use the 4-3 front and a base nickel package. Cover 2 (3rd downs, red zone) as I mentioned above, some Cover 3 (three-deep, four-under), Cover 1 (man-free) and a standard zone blitz package (rush five, drop six out of regular and nickel personnel).

And the Colts game plan will be very similar to what the Bears see every week from opposing offenses. Cover 2 beaters (Flat-7, 4 Verticals), three level routes to attack zone pressure (OVS, Sail) and the inside breaking concepts vs. Cover 1 (slant, dig, skinny post). Run the ball early to test the Bears seven man (Cover 2) and to get out of third and long situations.

Does that equal a test for the rookie? No question, because in his first NFL start, Luck will be asked to work the top of the Bears 2-deep looks, attack Brian Urlacher down the middle of the field and get the ball out vs. Julius Peppers. The speed of the game will take a dramatic step forward from the preseason to the regular season and Luck will have to challenge a veteran unit that can run.

I like it, because Luck will know where to go with the ball vs. this defensive scheme. Everyone does. But executing that game plan? That’s what I want to see.

Follow me on Twitter: @MattBowen41

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