How the Philadelphia Eagles Gave the Blueprint to Exploiting the Chicago Bears D

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How the Philadelphia Eagles Gave the Blueprint to Exploiting the Chicago Bears D
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

The Green Bay Packers don't necessarily need help finding ways to beat the Chicago Bears, especially with Aaron Rodgers back at quarterback.

If you discount the three-minute performance earlier this season before his injury, Rodgers has won six straight games against the Bears. 

And now that he's back after missing the past seven games with a broken collarbone, the Packers head to Soldier Field in Chicago to take on the Bears for the NFC North Championship. 

The Philadelphia Eagles gave a pretty good blueprint last week of how to attack this Bears defense, and the Packers might be wise to take a few plays from their playbook.

Just a week ago, the Bears defense was torched for 54 points and 514 total yards by the Eagles, with a good majority (289) of those yards coming on the ground via the running game. 

Although Eddie Lacy has had a fantastic rookie season and may end up as the Offensive Rookie of the Year, he's not LeSean McCoy. 

By the same token, Nick Foles ain't Aaron Rodgers either.

Examining the numbers from Bears-Eagles
Team - Offense Pass Yards Rush Yards Total Yards Yds/Play
Chicago Bears 196 61 257 4.1
Philadelphia Eagles 225 289 514 8.2

NFL.com

So, while the Eagles and Packers offensive schemes and rest of their personnel are obviously different, there are concepts found from the Bears-Eagles game that could be of interest to the Packers.

There are three plays below that illustrate some concepts the Packers might try and use in attacking this Bears defense. 

 

Getting the ball quickly to DeSean Jackson/Randall Cobb (assuming he plays)

NFL Rewind - BJ Kissel

In the Bears-Eagles game, the Eagles had a lot of success with two tight end sets running against a seven-man box for the Bears. 

That's not something you'll most likely see the Packers try and replicate.

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), neither Andrew Quarless nor Ryan Taylor are particularly strong run-blocking tight ends. Both have extremely low scores on the negative side of their scoring system for run-blocking. 

The Packers will establish Lacy in this game, especially considering how porous the run defense for the Bears has been this season.

But you might also see plays like this one below that are nothing more than an extended handoff to the outside. 

The play is designed to get Jackson out into space, and it's something we might see the Packers try and do to get Cobb involved early in the game. 

NFL Rewind - BJ Kissel

As soon as Jackson comes into motion and the defender doesn't trail him across the formation, Foles is reading zone coverage. 

NFL Rewind - BJ Kissel

The play action gets the attention of a number of the Bears defenders, and Jackson leaks out into the flat as he continues his motion across the field. 

Foles is able to hit him with the quick pass, and Jackson has the ball in space. 

NFL Rewind - BJ Kissel

This is exactly what the Eagles wanted when they drew up this play, and it's something the Packers would love to see with Cobb as well. 

The Bears are going to want to get pressure on Rodgers, just as is the case with most defenses approaching most quarterbacks. But coming off an injury and two months removed from his last game action, the Bears want to make Rodgers uncomfortable. 

These quick passes would help slow down these edge rushers and make Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker think twice about too many blitzes.

It would also make these defensive backs maintain their eye discipline with some play action in the backfield as well. 

 

Buying time to find holes in off man coverage

This next play is 3rd-and-long, and the Bears are showing blitz at the line of scrimmage, even bringing a safety to come up off the edge. 

NFL Rewind - BJ Kissel

The cornerbacks are showing off man coverage and will have to play good three-step defense, hoping Foles will make a quick read they can either hop for the interception or simply step up and make the tackle and force a punt. 

NFL Rewind - BJ Kissel

The Bears are going to stunt Shea McClellin (No. 99) back inside and drop the two inside linebackers showing double A-gap blitz. 

NFL Rewind - BJ Kissel

Right off the snap, McCoy does a good job of coming over and picking up the blitzing linebacker to buy Foles some time.

The yellow line represents the first-down line on this 3rd-and-long play.

The two outside cornerbacks are using their eyes to see what's going on in the backfield and feeling where their man is going. They know they're bringing an extra man off the edge, and they're hoping to hop any underneath route they see develop in front of them.

The receivers job, based on the route they're running on this particular play, is to run hard enough and fast enough that the cornerback has to open up his hips and commit to running down the field. Once the cornerback commits, the receiver can break off his route and sit in the area near the first-down marker.

NFL Rewind - BJ Kissel

That's exactly what happened at the top of the screen in the white box. The receiver got his defender to commit and was able to sit and catch the first-down pass. 

As long as the Packers can protect Rodgers, there's plenty of talent on the outside to take advantage of these soft coverages.

Foles could have attacked the seam on this play (red box, top), but with the corner playing off and committing down the field, if he's reading that throw, it's easily intercepted. 

Rodgers can take advantage of these soft coverages on the outside, because he's got the talent on the outside to do it. It's just a matter of the guys up front giving him the time to do it. 

 

Flooding the zone

This third and final play is a concept that's used all the way back in high school to attack zone coverages. 

All you do is simply flood one side of the field with route combinations that open up holes in the defense. 

NFL Rewind - BJ Kissel

The Eagles are in 11 personnel, also known as Posse, meaning one tight end, one running back and three wide receivers. They are trips right, which is also the open side of the formation with the tight end off the left tackle. 

NFL Rewind - BJ Kissel

DeSean Jackson is lined up on the very inside position and will be responsible for pulling the safety away from Riley Cooper (middle receiver).

NFL Rewind - BJ Kissel

Jackson will run the seam and fade to the inside at the top of his route, allowing Foles to lead Cooper to the inside because the outside cornerback is funneling everything back to the inside in zone coverage. 

The far outside receiver (orange) occupies both the outside corner with outside leverage, but also the underneath linebacker with curl/flat responsibilities. 

That leaves Cooper open down the field as the Eagles flooded the zone with route combinations that opened up the lane for Cooper on the pass play. 

Against the Bears' zone coverage, the Packers might use trips to one side or the other to help flood these zones and leave one receiver open down the field. 

 

Finding their own path

The Eagles and Packers aren't the same in terms of personnel, scheme or identity, but that doesn't mean the concepts from these three plays can't be utilized within the realm of what the Packers want to do on Sunday. 

If you're game planning against a Bears defense that just got torched for 500+ yards, it'd be wise to see if you can take advantage of those same things. 

The Packers will obviously want to establish Lacy in this game, as the Bears have struggled all season long in stopping the run. That would also help Rodgers ease into this game. 

The Bears come into this game ranked dead last in the NFL by giving up more than 161 yards per game on the ground.

But in the passing game, the Packers could use quick passes to Cobb to get him in space and out on the edge like the Eagles did with Jackson.

They could use deep curls and out routes to take advantage of soft off man coverage on the outside.

And finally, they could attack the Bears' zone coverage by flooding the area with route combinations as seen in that last play.

These are just a few of the ways the Packers could choose to attack a struggling Bears defense. The Eagles already proved these concepts are successful.  

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