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Understanding Coverages: Cover 0 Man (“Zero Man”)

17 Sep

Cover 0 Man

This coverage is a straight man-to-man with no safety help.  The pre-snap read (PSR) is based on the alignment of the Safeties.

Usually in Man coverage, the Strong Safety (SS) will play head up on the Tight End (TE) and the Free Safety (FS) will play shallow on the weak side. Typically, there is no safety in the middle of the field.

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Understanding Coverages: Cover 1 Man (“Man Free”)

15 Sep

Cover 1 man / Man-to-man with Free Safety help.

This coverage is man-to-man underneath with a Free Safety (FS ) sitting in centerfield to help over the top.

The pre-snap read (PSR) is based on the alignment of the Corners (Cs) and Linebackers (M, W and S) on the receivers. The C’s will be head up or in an outside alignment because they have help from the FS. This allows the C’s to take away the outs.

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Understanding Coverages: Cover 2 Man

12 Sep

Cover 2 Man / Man Under Two-Deep


This coverage is man-to-man with help over the top in the two (2) deep zones. This coverage allows the defense to bracket or double two (2) receivers.

The pre-snap read (PSR) is based on the alignment of the Corners (C) on the wide receivers. If the Safeties give a 2D look (Safeties near the hash marks, aligned deeper than the C’s) and both C’s are up tighter or looking primarily at the receiver instead of the QB, then Man Under Coverage (“MUC”) is confirmed.

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Understanding Coverages: Cover 2 Zone

11 Sep

Cover 2 Zone

The pre-snap read (PSR) is based on the depth of the Corners (C) and Safeties (S).  The C’s will usually be outside of the wide receivers and the S’s will be near
the hash marks, aligned deeper than the C’s.

If the ball is on the hash, look to the strong side defensive back for their alignment because the Safety will naturally be on the hash. If the Defensive End (E) drops to the curl, then all six (6) underneath zones are covered.

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Learning Basic Coverages

10 Sep

Video explaining how to recognize basic coverages — from Top Gun Academy.

Understanding Coverages: Cover 3 Invert (“Sky” Force)

8 Sep

Three Deep – Invert (“Sky” Force)

Cover 3

The Pre-Snap Read (PSR) is based on the alignment of the Strong Safety (SS) and the Cornerback (C) on the strong side. Teams will typically define the Tight End (Y) as the strong side, however a scouting report will provide this information. If the SS is aligned with less depth than the C, the read is an invert by the SS; for example, the SS is covering the flat, if a receiver is in the flat.

Confirm 3-deep coverage by the alignment of the Free Safety (FS). If the FS is off the hash and favoring the middle, assume that it will be a 3-deep.

Also the QB must be aware of the weak side, if the Weakside Linebacker (W) is in a stack (lined-up behind a defensive lineman or end) or walked off the LOS outside the end man on the line, it denotes a soft corner, with him responsible for the weak flat.

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Terminology: Bump and Run

3 Jul

A successful passing attack is routinely based on the timing between a Quarterback and his receivers.  However long it takes him to set up and throw equals the time it takes the receivers to work their routes.

Bump and run is about disrupting that timing.

The “bump” part is when the Cornerback “jacks” the receiver at the line to prevent his clean release.  The “run” part is the man-to-man defense he plays after.

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