The Bears use an empty backfield set with QB Jay Cutler in shotgun. TE Kellen Davis is in the right slot, with RB Matt Forte wide to his right. On the left side are three wide receivers, with TE Kyle Adams nearest to the left tackle.
The Texans are using two deep safeties with man coverage underneath. Davis is going to run a seam route down the right side. Forte will run a seven-yard hitch, while Adams will run a quick out.
In this photo Cutler is in his wind up, about to deliver the ball. As you can see, by running underneath routes on either side of Davis, safety Danieal Manning has no other player to focus on except for Chicago's tight end, who is being blanketed by the linebacker underneath. Yet despite this bracket coverage, Cutler decides to fire a pass in Davis' direction.
Davis never even comes close to the ball, with Manning jumping the route and intercepting the pass.
Why it Failed
This was a failure in both design and execution. In Cover 2, the safeties each are responsibility for half the field deep. When you run just one player into his zone, his job is easy. Bears OC Mike Tice designs a play where only one player, Davis, runs into Manning's zone. Forte and Adams both run short routes, leaving Davis naked deep. Had either player continued down the field, Manning would have been forced to cover two or even three players, which is too much for any safety to handle. Instead, Davis is double covered with no chance at making the catch.
The second failure, execution, falls entirely on Cutler. Here we have a quarterback, in his seventh year in the league, who not only does not see that Davis is covered like a glove by the linebacker, but he also fails to recognize Manning over the top. Instead of trying to buy more time with his feet and allow someone to get open, or even throwing the ball away, Cutler elects to chuck a no-chance pass into double coverage.
We've seen Cutler make these plays in the past but at this point, boneheaded maneuvers like these will be the main reason Chicago fails to win a championship this season. If he can stop with these auto-turnovers, the Bears have a shot to win it all. If he continues to put the offense in harm's way, it'll be another early exit.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.