Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery finally caught a touchdown pass this season on a well designed and well executed 11 yard throw by quarterback Jay Cutler. It came on a 2nd and 10 from the 11 yard line and the Bears were in 11 personnel (1 RB/1 TE), with Jeffery lined up at the X position all alone to the left. Chicago had a tight end and two wide receivers to the right, and a running back also to Cutler’s right.
Watching the play unfold, I thought it was an RPO (run/pass option) play at first, but in the post game press conference Cutler said it was just a straight play action pass.
And what a beautiful play action pass play it was.
"Well-executed," Cutler said after the game, "but a well-diagrammed play."
Everything about this play design was to get Jeffery in a one on one situation against the corner, with the play action pulling the safety help away from the end zone.
Check it out.
Now take a look at Cutler’s fake to Jordan Howard. Up to this point in the game, Howard was absolutely killing it, so the Vikes had to honor the threat of a run. Cutler kept his head down while looking the ball into Howard’s gut. He kept two hands on the ball as he rode Howard through the fake, keeping the ball low. The deception here was designed to pull the safety help away from Jeffery.
Now take a look at how Jeffery sold the fake on his end. When I coached my wide outs, I always stressed the importance of selling play action by slow-playing the route. I told them to run at the cornerback, hesitate like they were going try and block, then hit their break. Minnesota's Trea Waynes actually stays disciplined with his eyes by not peeking into the backfield, but he gives too much of a cushion to Jeffery.
Now we’ll take a look at the play from Cutler’s perspective, and we can see how Viking Pro Bowl safety Harrison Smith (circled) attacks the hole as he reads run. Smith’s responsibility is Howard, so after he comes up, he follows him to the sideline. As soon as Smith steps with Howard, Cutler fires the ball to Jeffery, who has inside position on Waynes.