Scouting the Bears
12:06 AM EDT, October 26, 2012
The Bears defense will have to prep for some option football Sunday against Cam Newton and the Panthers. Using the All-22 coaches tape, here is an example of how the Panthers created an explosive play running the triple option against the Cowboys.
The Panthers have Posse personnel (three receivers, one tight end, one running back) on the field in a two-back "pistol" set. Wide receiver Brandon LaFell aligns in the "pistol" look (behind the quarterback in the shotgun) with running back Jonathan Stewart offset to the open (weak) side of the formation. With the Cowboys in a two-deep shell, the Panthers will option the end man on the line of scrimmage (Newton's first read) and the nickel back.
On the snap, Newton rides Stewart through the mesh point and "reads" DeMarcus Ware. If the linebacker stays up the field, Newton will give to Stewart. If Ware crashes down, Newton pulls the ball and options the nickel back with LaFell as the pitch man. In this situation, Ware takes the bait and slants to Stewart with both inside linebackers attacking the line of scrimmage. This allows Newton to work to the second level of the defense.
To defend against the triple option, you have to play the dive, the quarterback and the pitch. The Cowboys don't have the numbers here. With the nickel back taking the pitch man and Ware late to recover on Newton, the quarterback is out the gate and into the secondary.
On Sunday, the Bears defensive ends and linebackers will be tested by the multiple option concepts (Read Option, Zone Read, Inverted Veer) from the Panthers out of a variety of alignments. And to beat the option, you must play with speed and discipline.
Special contributor Matt Bowen, who played at Glenbard West and Iowa, spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety. You also can find his work at nationalfootballpost.com.