Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cover 1(Man Free) Technique

This is the second post is a series about Cover 1 (Man Free) from a 4-2-5 defensive personnel. The focus of this post is the man technique of the safeties covering an inside (#2 or #3) receiver.  Some terms in this post reference the techniques described in the first post. You may also notice, many of these techniques are similar to the fire zone coverage concepts covered on Blitzology in the past.

Against a normal split receiver, the safety will take an outside leverage alignment. He can expect inside help on short inside routes from the Hole player and deep inside help from the Free player.

 A wide split takes the DB further from his inside help. In that case the DB will adjust to inside leverage to deny the easiest throws.

The DB’s eyes are on the WR’s hip. 

Where the hip goes tells the DB how to react.

When the receiver’s hip is outside the DB should be in good position to get in phase and cover the flat route. 

While getting in phase, he must be able to access the difference between a flat route and a wheel route.

Many times the WR takes a more vertical path to the flat when running a wheel. DB’s must also look for the differences between flat vs. wheel routes in film study.

When the receiver’s hip is vertical, the DB should get hands on the WR from the outside in and get in phase. We want the DB to see through WR to the QB. Throughout the route, he must maintain body position for outside breaking routes.

The most challenging outside breaking route is the corner. For the safety to be successful he must make an efficient man turn into the route. Once in phase, the goal for the DB is to lean on the WR forcing the route as vertical as possible. 

This action plays out like a corner leaning on a fade route. Instead of leaning the route into the sideline, the safety leans the route to the free player.

If the WR runs a vertical or go route, the DB must defend any throws on a line (including back shoulder throws). By playing the vertical aggressively with the man coverage, the QB should be forced to put air on the vertical throw. Throws over the top of the man coverage should be handled by the free player.

When the receiver’s hip is inside, the DB will use a Cut, Squeeze, or Pin technique depending on the depth of the break.

When the hip of the receiver breaks inside immediately the DB should make a “Cut” call to the Hole player. After making the cut call the DB will replace the Hole player. A cut call tells the Hole player to cut off the crossing route in man coverage.

Against the whip route (in & back out) the DB must be patient in order to correctly identify what route the WR is running. On many shallow concepts the WR is running his route at the heels of the DL. Most teams do not run a whip route from an initial release at that depth. Typically the route is deeper when the WR is going to run a whip. 

The DB must recheck a cut WR, looking for a whip route. He should be able to react from going to the hole and recollect the WR to the flat. Film study is crucial in helping the DB identify the difference between a crossing route and a whip route. 

When thinking about cover 1 the question naturally arises: Why not just play true man to man coverage and keep it simple? The cut technique is nuanced and requires practice to perfect. The reason for cut technique is for run support. In a true man coverage, if the receiver blocks inside the DB is going to go cover him. The receiver can occupy his man defender and the player he his blocking creating a 2 on 1 advantage for the offense.

Allowing the DB to make a cut call lets the DB be aggressive attacking the run.

When the hip of the receiver breaks inside at an intermediate depth the DB will use a squeeze technique. The DB should make an “In” call to alert the Hole player there is a route coming. A DB squeezing will trail and strip the receiver. If the WR attempts to settle his route the DB should make the play. Otherwise the DB should squeeze the route to the Hole player. Throws out in front of the WR will be defended by the Hole player. Any other throw should be punched out by the trail and strip DB.

When the WR sticks his foot in the ground and breaks to the post, the DB will use a pin technique. We want the DB to push the post vertical, pinning the post to the safety. By playing outside leverage the DB is naturally going to be in a trial position on the inside post break. The DB will take a low hip position trailing the post. Any throws on a line will be handled by the man coverage. Any throws over the top are the responsibility of the free player.

Putting it all together against a route combination:

Mike & Will are in a fiddle (2 on 1) technique against the back. When the back release to the Mike’s side the Mike takes him in man coverage. The Will become the Hole player. However, when #2 releases immediately inside the SS makes a “Cut” call and goes to the Hole. The Will cuts the crosser. The WS makes an “In” call and squeezes the in route to the SS in the hole.

If there are route combinations you would like to see diagramed leave a comment or send an e-mail to .

Monday, March 2, 2015

7 Man Overload Blitz from the Bear Front

There are multiple ways to get to the Bear front alignment. If you align in the bear from a 4-3, 4-2-5, 3-4, or 3-3-5 personnel this blitz is a possibility. The coverage is cover zero with the defensive line accounting for the running back in coverage.

The Rush:

Ends: Contain Rush, Peel if the running back crosses your face in a route

Tackles : Inside Rush through the B gap, Read the block of the Guard

Nose - Engage the Center, Spy the running back

Mike & Will - Inside blitz your A gap

The Coverage:
Corners - Man #1
Safeties - Man #2 or #3 in a 3x1 formation away from you.

Spy & Peel Technique
The Nose will get off the ball and engage the center. Once engaged the Nose should get his eyes to the running back.

If the running back steps up inside, the Nose will disengage the center and man cover the back.

This technique should put the Nose in great position to defend any running back screen concepts.

If the running back blocks one of the blitzing linebackers the Nose becomes an extra rusher.

The linebacker is an inside blitzer and will always attack the block of the running back to the inside. By attacking the inside of the running back, the linebacker will disrupt the QB's rhythm and footwork. The Nose will work to the outside of the block. The Nose must be aware of the RB chipping the linebacker before running a screen. If the back does block the Will, the Nose should be in good position to clean up the QB if the Will does not get the sack.

If the running back releases, the End will handle covering him in man coverage.

The Nose will go to cover the running back. As the back is picked up by the End, the Nose will replace the End as the contain rusher.

Read Technique

Both Tackles have read technique. The DT's are getting off on the snap and attacking the guards. If the guard pass sets to the DT, the DT drops outside looking for a hot throw. The depth for the DT's drop is 3-5 yards. If the guard does not set to the DT, the DT continues to pass rush through the B gap. Depending on the blocking scheme one, both, or neither DT could drop.

The defense is presenting 4 rushers to the right (End, Tackle, Mike, and Nose) the offense only has 3 blockers (RT, RG, Center). The extra (unblocked) rusher should force a hot throw. The right DT is reading out and should drop hot. 

To the left the offense has 3 blockers (LT, LG, and RB) for 3 rushers (End, Tackle, and Will). 

If the center attempts to create a 3 vs. 3 to the right (Center, RG, RT for End, Tackle, Mike) the defense has a 4 on 3 overload to the running back. The Will should attack the RB to the inside while the Nose works to the outside of the RB. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

4-2-5 Cover 1 (Man Free) Coverage

This is the first article in a series about Cover 1 or man free coverage from the 4-2-5 defensive alignment.
Against two Back formations the defense will use a funnel technique of two linebackers and one safety vs. the two running backs. Funnel is the name of a 3 on 2 man coverage technique.

Against a pro formation the corners handle the #1 receiver to their side. The SS mans up #2 strong. The safety who is going into the funnel makes a funnel and direction call. The linebackers bump their alignment away from the funnel call. In the example above the WS makes the "funnel right" call which bumps the linebackers to the left.
Against a two back formation into the boundary the WS will handle the #2 receiver and the SS will be in the funnel.
 We also have the ability by game plan to use the FS in the funnel against two back formations.

Based on where the offense is running the ball will determine which safety we choose to use in the funnel. Also where offenses are releasing backs into routes will effect which safety we will use. We always prefer for a safety to handle man coverage responsibility if possible. Other factors also determine where we are planning to invert the safety. For example a wing formation.

The wing formation can create a jam packed alignment for the Mike and the SS. It can be easier to have the FS invert against a wing.

Dropping the FS into the box from depth allows the SS and Mike to align without stepping all over one another.

Another example is against weak side run.

Our weak safety may not be a good matchup vs. a fullback on weak side runs. Having the Will block shedding a fullback is typically the better matchup.

The funnel technique is simple. We have 3 defenders for 2 running backs. The funnel player not manned up becomes a zone player dropping to the Hole. The hole is 10 yard deep over the center. The hole player will cover any route crossing his face.

Here the running backs split. The Mike man covers the 1st back to his side. The WS handles the first back to his side. The Will becomes the hole dropper.

When both backs release to one side the outside of the funnel (here the WS) will take the first back. The middle of the funnel (here the Will) mans up the 2nd running back. The Mike has no back to man cover and drops to the Hole.

When both backs release to the other side the WS ends up with no back to man cover and drops to the hole.

When the offense aligns in spread formations with only one back there is no need for a funnel technique. Against a one back set we use a Fiddle technique. Fiddle is the name of our 2 on 1 technique.

Against a 2x2 formation the Corners man #1 to their side. The SS and WS handle the #2's leaving the FS free. The linebackers have a 2 on 1 (Fiddle) against the running back.

Fiddle technique is very similar to funnel.

The fiddle linebacker to the side of the running back's release has him man to man. The linebacker opposite the back drops to the hole.
Against 3x1 the FS will handle #3 and the WS will be free.
Against spread teams we often play combo coverage on #2 & #3. By playing outside alignment on the #2 the SS is able to better defend bubble to #3.

Depending on game plan we can lock the DB's. It is critical the DB's align at different depths (Levels) to prevent pick routes. Here the SS is playing aggressively on #2. The FS is aligned deeper.

If we want the FS to play more aggressively vs. the #3 receiver the SS must play deeper to avoid being picked.

When #3 is a TE or an H back aligned on the hip there is no threat of bubble to #3. In this case we will lock the SS and FS. This allows the FS to aggressively play the run when the TE blocks.

Against 3x1 into the boundary we can combo or lock & level. The SS will be the free player in this situation.
Against spread teams that choose to use jet motion we use our funnel technique.
We play funnel technique and invert the FS against this look. The FS is able to take a good angle to leverage the jet sweep. Linebackers do not have time to bump opposite the funnel call in this situation. This is the same technique we use against teams the motion a WR to the backfield as a pitch player on option concepts.
If the motion ends up crossing the formation the inverting safety can turn the call from a funnel to a combo.
Against a bunch formation we again use the WS as the free player and play combo coverage.

The SS plays outside leverage on the #2 receiver in the bunch and has #2 in press man. We align the SS outside to help the run support to the bunch. The FS and Corner combo cover the #1 and #3 in the bunch.

By game plan we can lock and level the bunch formation. One reason we lock and level is to use our Oscar adjustment in cover 1.

The Oscar call is a double on the outside receiver in the bunch by the corner and the free player.

We use the Oscar adjustment to allow the corner to crack replace aggressively vs. crack toss. With the SS aligned outside leverage on #2 the corner should have a clear picture when #1 is crack blockings.

The corner can be aggressive on the crack replace without worrying about the play action off the crack toss.
Those are the basic man matchups in cover 1. If there are other formations and motions you would like to see in a follow up post leave a comment or send an e-mail.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Simple Adjustable 3-4 Blitz vs. Spread Formations

This blitz was submitted by Blitzology reader Jeff Koutsantanou. Coach Koutsantanou is currently the Linebackers coach at the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
Coach Koutsantanou’s Rambo blitz is an adjusted blitz concept run from a 3-4 defensive alignment. The adjustment of the blitz is determining which linebacker will blitz (Mike or Blood) based on the alignment of the running back. The blitz is backed up by man free coverage. Coach Koutsantanou likes this concept against 10 or 11 personnel on 2nd & long or 3rd & obvious pass.

The Coverage:
Corners - Man on #1
Sam - Man #2 Strong
Anchor - Free (Deep Middle)
FS - Man #2 Weak

The Rush:
End – Contain rush to the call
Nose – Rush A gap away from the call
Tackle – If Blood makes “You” Call = Contain
If Blood makes “Me” call rush inside through B gap

Will – Blitz opposite A gap
Mike & Blood
If RB is aligned to your side = Man to Man on RB. This is a rush & engage coverage technique. Force the RB to account for you in the protection.

If the RB is aligned away from you = Blitz
Blood - If you are blitzing, Make a “Me” call to the Tackle
If you are man to man on the back, make a “You” call
Mike – If you are blitzing, Blitz B gap
Here the Mike is aligned to the RB so the Mike has him man to man. The Blood is away from the RB and is the blitzer. The Blood must call "Me" to tell the Tackle who has the contain rush.
Here the Blood is manned on the RB and the Mike is blitzing. The Blood makes a "You" call to the Tackle telling him who has contain. The Nose, Will, and End remain constant regardless of the alignment of the RB.
This concept has natural angles for the Mike to blitz the B gap or for the Blood to blitz off the edge.
Against a 3x1 formation the Anchor takes #3 strong and the FS is free. All the other rules remain the same.

The defense does have to answer game plan questions about how to handle:
#1 No Offset Back (Pistol, Under Center, or Empty Backfield)
Coach Koutsantanou's base answer is to treat a pistol backfield as strong. In that case the Mike is man to man on the running back while the Blood is blitzing.
The call can adjust to empty or the call can be checked.

#2 Offenses flipping the alignment of the running back from one side of the center to the other.
Coach Koutsantanou's base answer is reset the blitz with the flip of the RB.
#3 10 or 11 personnel teams that align a non-back in a 2 back formation
Coach Koutsantanou's handles these teams by game plan.
This pressure is favored by Coach Koutsantanou because it is simple to install. The defense can present multiple blitz looks to the offense with a single call. The call's versatility is good vs. hurry up offense. As the offense goes fast and changes the alignment of the back the blitz changes. Coach Koutsantanou uses this template for other blitz variations.
Coach Koutsantanou's Rambo X concept is one example of a blitz variation using the same principles as Rambo.
The coverage rules remain the same. The only adjustment is the blitz path for the linebackers and the Nose. On a Rambo X call the Nose slants to the away B gap. The Blood cheats his alignment to blitz the B gap.

On a Rambo X call the Mike blitzes the opposite A gap. The Mike should let the Will clear before blitzing.

Thanks to Coach Koutsantanou for e-mailing me. If any other coaches would like to submit any aspect of their playbook to be featured on the site please e-mail me.