Dissecting the Play: Rodgers to Jennings (game winner)

It was third down with one yard to go from midfield.  Fourth quarter, a little more than a minute left on the clock, with Green Bay trailing by two.  Just the kind of situation the Brett Favre led Packers were known for taking a shot on.  Would the Aaron Rodgers version do the same?  You had to figure they were in 2 down territory, so a pass, check that, a play-action pass, should have been on the collective minds of the Bears defense. 

A lot of talk has been made of Nathan Vasher doing his best Elvis Patterson impression on the play, and of course head coach Lovie Smith taking to his CB's defense by implicating safety Kevin Payne on the play as well.

But, should the blame be shared equally?

Vasher said;

"I lost my footing a little bit, but I definitely have to be on top [of the pass route],"

Yes, Vasher should have been on top of the route, because he looked to be in man to man coverage.  The Bears weren't in Cover 2 on the play.  They had strong safety Al Afalava as an eighth in the box to defend against the run, and Kevin Payne was the lone safety.  Given the circumstance I would have rather seen the Bears in the Cover 2, the defense had done a solid job against the run all day so put it on the d-line to protect that yard.

In the Tribune's Bears Bits by Vaughn McClure we read;

The Bears apparently were playing a version of quarter-quarter-half, with each cornerback responsible for a quarter of the field and the free safety responsible for the middle half. Strong safety Al Afalavacame up on Rodgers' play fake, then Vasher anticipated help as he covered his zone down the left side.

"Can't give up a deep ball late," Smith said. "Nate wasn't the only one that was a part of that."

Smith was asked to detail what happened on the play.

"Al was coming down in support, which he should have done," he said. "Someone else should have been back deep in the middle of the field -- not Al."

OK, First off, Vasher didn't anticipate help, he slipped, and even if he didn't slip, he would've got toasted on the play because he doesn't have the speed to cover one on one.  And is their version of quarter-quarter-half, Cover 1 with both CB's manning up if their WR takes it deep, or Cover 3 with both CB's responsible for their deep quarter, and the safety responsible for the middle half?  If it were the latter, then there is no reason for Vasher to do anything but immediately backpedal then turn and run with Jennings.  If it was more a Cover 1 look, then Payne would have a better chance protecting against a deep crossing route or a post route.  In fact with Payne taking deep middle in any instance, he's looking for those routes.  Expecting him to cover the deep middle, then get over to the sideline (deep quarter) to offer Vasher help is a tough cover, even for a 4.3 40 type player.  A little tangent here; Wouldn't it be nice to not have to always "help" out our corner?

The play can get spun any way they'd like, but bottom line is that was Vashers man.  Could Payne have been there to help out?  Yes.  Could he have ran over in time to help and cover his first responsibility (deep middle)?  Probably, if he were to recognize the play from the snap.  Did the Packers just have a great play call on.  Unfortunately, yes.

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