Breaking Down Defensive Attack

Michael Pallas| Aug 22nd, 2019 

In the last part of this series, we talked about the position along the defensive line. Now, we are on to Part 2: defensive coverages.

There are two basic straight forward coverages responsibilities in football. Man is when you’re covering a particular player and zone is when a defensive back or linebacker is responsible for a particular area of the field or “zone.” However, what about the precise defensive calls?

When it comes to the packages, it’s simple. 4-3 is four linemen and three linebackers, 3-4 is the reverse. Nickel is five defensive backs and dime is six.

When it comes to activity a blitz is specifically when a defense sends more than four rushers at the opposing quarterback.

When it comes to zone defense there are three main zone types teams will employ. The first two are the Cover-2 and its sister defense the Tampa-2. The basic Cover-2 is a simple zone defense in which the corners cover the short portion of the outside, the linebackers cover the middle of the field, and the safeties are responsible for 1/2 the field deep.

When it comes to the Tampa-2 defense, there’s an important difference: speed and athleticism. Often times, the players in a Tampa-2 don’t meet the prototypical standards for the positions they’re playing. The corners have to be better than normal tacklers — for their position — due to the nature of the expectation. Rather than covering the man, they’re covering an area. So more catches will be made, and then the corners have to make a stop.

The thing that makes both types of Cover-2 defense unique is that there is no blitzing from either. The team needs to get pressure with four players.

When it comes to Cover-3, it’s more of a deep pass/run preventing defense. It can really only be played from a 4-3 defense. The two corners are covering deep along with the free safety, exch responsible for 1/3 of the field. The strong safety moves down into the box and covers the middle with the middle linebacker, and the two outside linebackers are responsible for the short receivers.

Check out part one of the series: Defensive Line 

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