Defense has long been the calling card of Chicago Bears football.
Even in a season that produced just five wins, at least Vic Fangio’s defense put fourth a strong effort that gave the team a fighting chance on a week-by-week basis. And there is something to be said about the scheming that had to go into a season where the Bears defense finished in the top-10 in scoring and yards, especially when nine players in that unit ended the season on injured reserve. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the Bears successfully employed an unconventional defense more often than anyone else in 2017 … and did a pretty good job at stifling opposing offenses while doing so.
Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus breaks down which teams ran which coverage schemes and each’s level of success while doing so. And when it came to zone coverage, no one ran a Cover-6 more often (or more successfully) than the Bears. Names of coverages are largely self-explanatory as to detail how many defenders are responsible for the deepest portion of the field, except for the Cover-6. Go figure.
So what is the Cover-6? Well, it’s a coverage that splits the deep part of the field in a way that combines two different schemes. In short, this hybrid scheme uses the Cover-2 concept of having one safety taking a deep half of the field, as well as the Cover-4 set where a safety and cornerback are responsible for a deep quarter.
The Bears were running this coverage on 16.4 percent of their defensive snaps, with the Rams (12.9 percent) coming in a distant second. And even though opposing quarterbacks completed 65.2 percent of their passes against this look, Chicago’s defense allowed just one touchdown while in this coverage in 103 passing snaps.
Considering the Bears’ secondary was the best and healthiest unit last season, making Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, Adrian Amos, and Eddie Jackson the most responsible players on the gridiron makes a ton of sense.
And for a neat bonus, go figure that a Madden 18 tutorial would best explain the Cover-6 basics with easy to understand terminology: