Thursday, October 3, 2013

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 29

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Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 29

By Gir Todafunk
Special to the Daily Magi
August 7, 2054

How's everybody? Feelin' good? I know I get a good feeling sometimes. Why? Because I am Gir Todafunk, Mr. Wonderful, here with another Weekly Column for the Daily Magi. Three weeks to go until football season here in Canada. A few of the schools in CIS-SIC, i.e. the Lavals, UBCs and Westerns of this world, will start a few days ahead of us. But we'll be following close behind. 

I want to continue from where I left off regarding zone coverage packages in our Morning Rescue set. The Cornerbacks Crew, as you know, play a major role in stopping the pass and making plays, so here we go.

The cover 1 defense has just one defender playing in a deep zone downfield. Normally the one defender playing the deep zone downfield is the Safety. The corner's primary responsibility is to play on or off the receiver, and not let him release vertically. Often defensive coordinators will not use Cover 1 unless the cornerbacks for that team are very good at man-to-man coverage. The cover 1 defense is normally only used when offenses are just trying to gain a short amount of yards. An aggressive defense, Cover 1 is employed because it provides for a safety net over the top, but gives the other safety the freedom to rush the line of scrimmage or drop back into coverage.

The Cover 2 is popular among defensive coordinators in the National Football League because it implements two safeties to defend the deep routes instead of one. This coverage allows the safeties to watch the play develop in front of them thus allowing the corners to pursue a more aggressive style of play. Cover 2 is a "2 Deep Zone" that uses four defensive backs. Two safeties line up deep, around 11–15 yards off the line of scrimmage (usually each safety stands on or a few feet from his hash mark), while the cornerbacks line up around five yards from the wide receivers which are nearest to each sideline.

In Cover 2, the cornerback is usually responsible for "containment". This is where he does not allow anyone to run outside of him (between him and the sideline). He then funnels or jams receivers towards the middle and within five yards, reads the quarterback, and finally drops back to defend the void if there is not a throw to the flat or a running play. This is also known as the "Catch and Run Technique". Typically with the Cover 2, cornerbacks mirror each other's zone responsibilities. However, sometimes they play a "man-up" style bump and run, a form of bump and run designed to eliminate the short pass, where the receiver is forced to the near sideline, which is the opposite of the run oriented "containment" style of Cover 2. Usually if one corner is in man to man coverage, the other is in man to man coverage as well. The two safeties act as a security blanket for deep routes.

In a "Cover 3", the two corners and free safety defend their assigned deep thirds of the field, where the corners defend the outside third, (hence the term corner) while the safety defends the middle third. This allows the strong safety to address a full range of duties depending on what reads he makes coupled with the coverage called. These duties may simply include single or zone coverage, being a quarterback spy, providing extra run support in short yardage situations, or to stunt or blitz through a gap or from the end.

In a "Cover 4" each defensive back is responsible for covering his designated "deep fourth" of the field, while other defensive players are responsible for covering the underneath areas. Sometimes Cover 4 is used as a "prevent defense".

Variations of these coverages exist to counter the many styles of offenses a defense may face on any given week. For example, one variation of the Cover 2 allocates the weak-side corner (e.g.: typically the "right cornerback" when playing against right-handed quarterbacks) to cover half the field in order to free up a safety; the idea being to allow the safety to engage a different part of the field, blitz, contain, or spy. The strong side cornerback (the "left cornerback") may be in a variety of different alignments which may include "loose man", "man-under", or "man-up". Although these are forms of single coverage, more often than not his responsibility is usually limited to an initial jam and funnel with a subsequent drop back into the "void". This pie-shaped slice of field is included with your most basic 2 Deep Zone coverage. One interesting aspect sometimes encountered with Cover 2 is that it is possible for one corner to be in a zone coverage, where he funnels and drops into the void, while another may be in man coverage. However, your basic garden variety 2 Deep Zone usually employs the two safeties to share half the field responsibilities, with the two corners funneling.

So that's zone coverage in a nutshell. Next week, I talk a little bit about jamming the receiver and single/man-to-man coverage. Till next week, I am Gir Todafunk, signing off. You are not alone.

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