This was the Bengals first opportunity to experiment with their 3-Safety Nickel package with Taylor Mays in at Linebacker. Chicago has great field position after an interception, but they face 3rd & 17 and survive an exotic Mike Zimmer blitz package.
* Cincinnati shows a single-high safety (Iloka) and Man-Coverage underneath.
* Chicago has 3-WRs and 1-TE split out.
* Just before the snap, George Iloka starts sprinting and aligns over Reggie Nelson in the slot.
* This alignment almost always means the DB closest to the LOS (Nelson) is blitzing.
* At the same time, Leon Hall is dropping out of his slot coverage and rotating back as a Safety. He and Iloka are now creating a Cover-2 look.
* Both LBs are showing blitz in the A-Gap in an effort to get the Chicago offensive line to block inwards-out. So the LBs be accounted for first in blitz pickup.
* Nelson (red) would then get a free rush from the outside.
* At the snap, both Bengals LBs (Mays & Burfict) drop back into coverage with attention placed on Chicago’s two slot targets (Bennet & Marshall).
* With Chicago blocking the inside first, this leaves Dunlap unblocked.
* Matt Forte comes across the formation and cut-blocks Dunlap.
* Watch the ANTICIPATION by Jay Cutler. With Burfict’s eyes firmly placed on Brandon Marshall, Cutler can throw the ball right at him without the Bengals LB knowing it.
*With both safeties (Iloka & Hall) playing deep and to the boundary, there’s a big gap down the seam. The open area where Cutler must place the ball is marked in light blue.
*Perfect pass and catch from Cutler to Brandon Marshall. They convert on 3rd and 17.
This is a scenario we saw for too often on Sunday. Marshall was bracketed by a Safety and Linebacker and he kept converting and moving the chains.