Chicago Bears Film Study: How Justin Jefferson could challenge Buster Skrine
The Chicago Bears need to prepare for Justin Jefferson take on Buster Skrine
Justin Jefferson has been a breakout rookie wide receiver, and his emergence has helped the Minnesota Vikings go 3-2 in their past five games. We all know that the Chicago Bears do not move their cornerbacks around, and they will not change for a rookie in Jefferson, especially with Adam Thielen on the other side.
According to PFF, Jefferson lines up on the left side 41% of the time, in the slot 41% of the time, and on the right 18%. That means that he will hardly see Kyle Fuller, who will instead see Thielen most of the day.
Jefferson will square off with the rookie Jaylon Johnson, who has met almost every challenge he has faced. However, Jefferson will also move into the slot and matchup with Buster Skrine.
Skrine ranks 2nd in yards allowed from the slot, with only Taron Johnson allowing more, according to PFF. He ranks 10th in yards allowed after the catch from the slot. On the flip side, Jefferson ranks 13th in yards after the catch from the slot, and 2nd in yards from the slot, behind Davante Adams.
The Chicago Bears defense does not allow many mismatches, but Jefferson against Skrine could clearly be one.
In the play below, you can see how the Tennessee Titans were able to get their best wideout A.J. Brown in the slot to take on Skrine. In the slot, Brown has obvious advantages to attack in the inside but has more room to work outside as well compared to when he lines up closer to the sideline.
Skrine plays leverage to take away the inside route, and Brown bursts into open space. From there, the better athlete with a step and grass won.
What is interesting about that route by Brown is that we have that seen that work against Skrine earlier this year. Once again, the Carolina Panthers put their top wideout Robby Anderson in the slot. Skrine plays inside leverage off of the snap. This time Skrine is able to keep up with Anderson.
However, he is keyed in on Anderson and Skrine is not playing the ball. Anderson makes a great play in the air and brings it home. The Titans may have seen this and wanted to test Skrine similar to Anderson.
Those two plays are worth bringing up because we have seen Jefferson win in this manner. In the play below you can see how Jefferson can win in the slot. This cornerback did not even force Jefferson outside like Skrine did against Brown and Anderson.
We saw a similar play last week against the Lions. The Vikings stacked Adam Thielen and Jefferson on the same side so the play below is on Jeff Okudah. Still, Okudah does play inside leverage, which forces Jefferson outside. Still, Jefferson wins with ease off of the ball and once again is able to make a play on the ball with so much grass to the sideline.
The Minnesota Vikings have had success running the slot fade with Jefferson. This has clearly been an area where Buster Skrine has struggled as well.
The Chicago Bears need to note this route on tape and change their leverage. With a safety and linebackers to the inside, Skrine may be better off forcing Jefferson inside and letting him win on quick, short routes that are tackled right after the catch.
Of course, if you take away the fade to the outside, it does leave more green grass over the middle of the field if the Vikings are able to counter.
It is worth noting the Texans blitzed and were burnt on the play below. Chicago may have linebackers to cause traffic over the midde. Still, Justin Jefferson is going to be a hassle for Skrine to cover no matter how you slice it. The Chicago Bears are going to have to rely on Fuller to shut down Thielen without the help of a safety, and then bracket Jefferson when he plays in the slot.
If Skrine plays outside leverage, Eddie Jackson needs to crash the middle and if Skrine plays inside leverage, Jackson needs to get to the sideline faster than he did against A.J. Brown, in anticipation that a slot fade is coming.