Finley a matchup issue? Check out video vs. Bears

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We consistently talk about matchups in the NFL. Align your offensive personnel in a variety of formations to create that one-on-one situation you can exploit. And going back to the Packers 27-17 win over the Bears, Green Bay got exactly what it was looking for vs. Chicago: TE Jermichael Finely matched up against the Bears’ Brandon Meriweather.

A quick set up here. The Packers are in Posse (or 311) personnel in a 3x1 alignment with Finley removed from the core of the formation as the No.1 receiver to the closed (strong) side. The Bears counter with their base nickel package playing Cover 1 (man-free). Let’s go to the replay.

Route concept: All slants. Remember, inside of the 10-yard in this league you will see the slant or the fade. The Packers want to work the closed side of the formation and with three inside breaking routes vs. Cover 1; Green Bay can occupy the free safety playing the middle of the field.

Finley’s route stem: Straight vertical release from the Packers’ TE, but check out the quick “stick move” at the top of the stem. With the Bears playing their Cover 1 scheme under Lovie Smith, defenders will align with an outside shade and funnel everything to the middle of the field. Finley forces Meriweather to bite and that opens up a clear release back to the middle of the field. Pretty smooth route for a big man.

Off-man technique: No question this is a tough route for a safety to play from an off-position (I would have aligned him in a press-look vs. Finley). However, once again we are talking about technique here. When Finely sticks to the outside, Meriweather stops his feet. That’s poor technique. And when your feet stop, you can’t recover as a DB in a red zone situation.

Eyes: I talk “eyes” from a DB’s perspective often when I break down Xs and Os, because it is the No.1 reason we see big plays in the secondary. Look at Meriweather again. Where do his eyes go when Finley makes his cut? Back to the QB. That creates even more separation between the Bears’ FS and Finley on this play. Don’t look at the QB—because he isn’t throwing the ball to you.

This is what happens you mix the route running ability of an athletic TE like the Packers’ Finley and poor technique from a defensive back. And when Aaron Rodgers is playing QB, he isn’t going to miss on an opportunity to beat a secondary.

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