FirstDown PlayBook Coverage Beaters: Cover 2
First, let’s remind everyone exactly what the FirstDown PlayBook Coverage Beaters section is. It is a section where you the offensive coach can go to find effective passing game plays to attack a specific coverage. We have sections devoted to beating Cover 1, 2, 3, 4 and Cover 6. Today… Cover 2.
FirstDown PlayBook’s Cover 2 is your traditional two deep safeties with five underneath defenders and everyone is playing zone. There are different ways to play cover 2 and we will touch on that a little below.
When we are facing a Cover 2 team we look for the following things:
2 Deep Seams
The nature of cover 2 is that there are only two defenders deep to cover three deep zones. Naturally, there is a chance to exploit this with the vertical passing game. It is worth noting that not all cover 2 teams will play their safeties the same way. The width and depth of the safeties is something to be studied as you prepare to play a cover 2 defense.
Cover 2 has almost become synonymous with Tampa 2 these days but not entirely. Tampa 2 coverage has the Mike linebacker gaining depth in the mid hook and defending the seam between the underneath zones and the safeties. There are still some defenses that will have their strong or weak side linebackers carry the slot receiver or Tight End but they are rare.
Why is this important? Because we are looking to exploit the 2 deep seams and the defense is going to offset this by assigning an underneath defender to cover our slot receivers as they travel to the deep halves. When the defense does this we are looking for ways to attack that area where the linebacker left. This area will be in the mid-hook or curl areas depending who the defense has carrying the slot to the safeties.
High Low The Corners
The corner in cover 2 will be responsible for the flat to his side. They will also be asked to get depth on any ball thrown behind them to buy time for the safety as he works outside the hash. A common way to put this corner in a bind is to run a route in front of him and behind him. The Smash concept is a common way to do this with the outside receiver running a five yard hitch as the slot receiver runs a corner route. It is always important to not only study the depth of the cornerback when attacking this area but also the width of the safety’s alignment.
Sit Down In Zones
There will be holes in the underneath zones even though the defense has five underneath defenders. This is particularly true when you diagnose which linebacker is getting depth to help the safeties. The quarterback and receivers need to understand this. Pass plays should be favored that are designed to allow a receiver to throttle in a hole vs zone coverage. These are better options than ones where the receiver is running through zones.
Make Life Hard On The Linebackers
When team plays 2 deep they are giving up a defender, namely a safety to defend the run. Because of this the defensive front and linebackers have to do a great job compensating for this. An offensive coordinator can take advantage of this by calling play action passes that require the linebackers to freeze or even step up before dropping to their underneath zones on a pass. This can go a long way with creating an area behind the linebackers and in front of the safeties where you can run crossing routes and other similar concepts.