Chicago Bears slot corner Buster Skrine faces huge test against Cooper Kupp

Chicago Bears (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

Buster Skrine is going to spend most of Monday night against Cooper Kupp when the Chicago Bears take on the Rams

Cooper Kupp runs 59% of his routes out of the slot according to PFF. While the Los Angeles Rams move him around, he is going to spend the majority of his game against the Chicago Bears on Buster Skrine

While Kupp is not a full-time slot player, he is just one of 21 players with over 100 routes run from the slot, according to PFF. Still, of those, he is tied with Julian Edelman for eighth-most targets out of the slot. Beyond that, Kupp is sixth in yards from the slot behind only Edelman, Jamison Crowder, Tyler Boyd, Cole Beasley, and CeeDee Lamb. Of that group, he ranks fourth in yards per route run out of the slot.

It is safe to say that Kupp is used in the slot often, and when he is in the slot, he is most effective. The Los Angeles Rams have to be interested in using him in the slot even more than 60% in this game considering his matchup with Buster Skrine.

When looking at yards allowed from the slot, only Taron Johnson has allowed more yards this season than Skrine. Johnson, Skrine, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Byron Murphy, and D.J. Hayden are the only five cornerbacks with over 200 yards allowed from the slot.

To be fair, only Johnson and Murphy have more slot snaps, along with Marlon Humphrey, who has been excellent in the slot. On top of that, they all rank in the top four in yards after the catch allowed, while Skrine ranks 12th in that area.

The fact is that when you have Kyle Fuller as an All-Pro candidate and Jaylon Johnson ascending on the outside, teams have to find yards in the slot. Skrine gets the blame. Despite being second in yards, and targets he is 10th in yards per snap, eighth in snaps per target, and 11th in snaps per reception. Being a full-time slot corner in this defense makes his stats look worse, but as Johnson puts out more tape, teams will only target Skrine more in the slot.

On Sunday, the Panthers move their top receivers Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore into the slot to get them matched up against the weaker cornerback.

With Anderson, they used all of the grass from the slot to give him a fade and let him go get the football.

D.J. Moore used physicality to get space on the inside and convert a 12-yard reception.

Again, this is not bad coverage, but these are good receivers, and Skrine is being targeted as the weak link. The Rams are going to challenge Skrine with Kupp.

Taron Johnson, the only cornerback who has allowed more yards than Skrine has his stats looking poor thanks to Kupp. Kupp starts his route looking like it will be a similar fade to Robby Anderson on Skrine. However, he cuts out at the last second and gets a lot of separation at the last second.

Kupp breaks out above and breaks inside below. You would expect Kyle Fuller to follow Robert Woods in a similar play to below, and Skrine would be stacked on top taking on Kupp.

The biggest advantage the Bears can have is to have their safeties crash down over the middle of the field. They need to trust Jaylon Johnson to shut down Josh Reynolds, and Kyle Fuller to have his way with Robert Woods. If they can do this, they can bracket Kupp over the middle of the field. The Bears would ask Skrine to play outside leverage and force his routes into the safeties playing robber roles.