Rodgers vs. the Bears' Cover 2 defense
Aaron Rodgers is going to see the Cover 2 defense from Lovie Smith’s Bears this Sunday up at Lambeau Field. No matter what is said throughout this week about the Chicago zone pressure schemes—or their cornerbacks in Cover 1—the Packers will see plenty of the 2-deep shell.
What does that mean for the Green Bay QB? Let’s look at five things that will have an impact in this crucial Sunday matchup.
Click here for the chalkboard breakdown of the Cover 2 defense.
1. Work for the deep ball: That is the theory behind the defense. Make Rodgers take the underneath throws. The Bears want to get a jam on No.1 and re-route the receiver on an inside release. Give the safety a cushion and play with enough depth to take away the deep 9 (fade), post and the 7 (flag) when the corner sinks at a 45-degree angle. If Rodgers wants to take the check down—give it to him. But make him work to fit the ball into tight holes down the field.
ICONRodgers can target the Bears' Urlacher down the middle of the field.
2. Targeting Urlacher: Cover 2 is a 3-deep, 4-under coverage in the NFL when the Mike Backer runs the inside vertical seam. The Packers can align in their empty sets with a WR at No.3 (think Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson) or in their pro sets with the TE to test the middle of the field. Urlacher will open his hips to the passing strength and carry that vertical route. Both safeties will drive on the throw—but the matchup can be ideal for Green Bay. Get Urlacher running down the field with his back to the QB. A tough play for any linebacker.
3. Cover 2 beaters: Expect to see these basic Cover 2 beaters in the Packers’ game plan: 4 verticals, flat-7, the dagger (inside seam, dig combo), OVS (outside vertical stretch: 9, 7, flat combo) and the deep 15-yard dig. Every offense will carry these routes in their playbook when they play the Bears. My guess? Look for 4 verticals (4 go routes) early in the game near mid-field. The same route scheme that resulted in touchdowns for Tom Brady and Brett Favre this season vs. Lovie’s defense.
4. Long drives: This is what Chicago wants to see. Very similar to their first meeting on Monday night at Soldier Field. Force Rodgers to throw the short to intermediate route tree and put together 10-12 play drives. Why? More opportunity for the offense to make a mistake. Penalties, turnovers and the basic idea that offensive play callers get impatient—and start to take too much risk. Every Cover 2 coach I played for in the NFL believed in this theory. Make the offense work the ball down the field and you will make a play on defense.
5. Moving the underneath coverage: This will come into play more in 3rd and medium situations. Rodgers has to use his eyes to move Bears’ LB Lance Briggs and nickel back D.J. Moore. They are coached to drop to their landmarks (between the numbers and the hash marks) and drive on the throw. Think of Derrick Brooks back in his playing days for the Bucs. An elite player for this reason. Read the QB and drive from the backside to cut off any route breaking to the middle of the field. Can’t let Moore and Briggs make plays on Sunday.
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