Thursday, October 3, 2013

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 30

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Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 30

By Gir Todafunk
Special to The Daily Magi
August 14, 2054

Hey guys, what's up? This is Gir Todafunk, Mr. Wonderful, with another fresh weekly column for the Daily Magi and the Magi Football Blog. We are now two weeks away from the football season starting and I want to continue my ongoing dissertation of the cornerback position. In this column I talk about jamming the receiver and single/man-to-man defense.

When a cornerback is attempting to jam or funnel a receiver, he is trying to disrupt the receiver's route at the line of scrimmage. When jamming the receiver a cornerback must keep his body squared with his feet shoulder width apart, so he can have power when jamming his arms out. When jamming his arms out it is important that the cornerback does not extend his arm too long, because a good receiver will escape from the corner's jam. By impeding the receiver's progress, the corner can provide his teammates with extra time to sack the quarterback (sometimes called a "coverage sack"), or force an ill-timed throw. In addition, a proper jamming allows the safety or linebacker to provide stronger run support because he then has more time to drop back into zone coverage in the event of a pass. In other words, he has been granted more time by the corner to recover from his mistakes if he anticipates a run when in fact the play is a pass.

If the jam fails, the cornerback is usually flat footed and not in a suitable position to defend the mid to long-range passes. When this occurs, the safeties and linebackers usually cannot return to their zone obligations in time, especially if they were anticipating a run as the play began. In essence, the defense is unnecessarily "stretched" to its breaking point. Receivers who can effectively avoid the jam and stretch defenses are far more likely to create big play opportunities for the offense. Therefore, it is vital that a cornerback execute a proper funnel or jam to allow safeties and linebackers enough time to return to their zone responsibilities in the event of an unforeseen pass play. By working together and familiarizing where one's help may come from, a higher degree of confidence is established amongst the defensive secondary as a unit, with the end result translating into a much more formidable defense against both the run and pass.

In single or man to man coverage, the cornerback is responsible for a particular receiver assigned to him. As the play begins, the corner may either attempt to "jam" the receiver at the line, play a step or two off of him, or concede a few yards and play with a "cushion". Cushions can range from a yard or two, to forty yards in a "prevent defense" situation. Cushion is just how far off the defender plays away from the offensive player he is assigned to defend. When lining up in front of the receiver to "jam" him or playing just a few steps off, it is important that the corner keeps his body in front of the receiver's body. The easiest way for a corner to be in position is to line up slightly inside of the receiver and the ball, and keep his eyes looking between the receiver's hip and his knees. If a cornerback loses focus on his receiver, the receiver will run straight past him, and then it leads to corners having to use the cushion technique. Generally, cushions are smaller in single coverage and larger in zone coverage.

Single coverage in the "red zone" (an area between the goal-line and the twenty-yard line) is usually designed to prevent receivers from slanting towards the middle of the field. These types of routes are difficult to stop in the red zone because this area is usually congested with bodies colliding, crossing, and weaving in different directions. Although illegal, defenders are easily picked or screened (this is illegal yet hard to enforce in short field, congested situations) by opposing receivers and sometimes by their own teammates. To avoid this, it is often favorable for cornerbacks to either: "switch" assignments (where he will agree beforehand to trade assignments with one of his fellow defenders in the event that the receivers criss-cross as the play begins), or alternatively, a corner may instead line up close enough to the receiver (very close) at the line of scrimmage to force or jam him toward the sideline (outside) without violating the 5 yard no touch rule. Corners often refer to this second style of coverage as the "man under" technique.

Single coverage, or man to man coverage usually employs relatively few techniques. However, they are often initially displayed to resemble one another as much as possible to disguise the true motives of the defense, and be interchangeable as well. Although terminology for single coverage can vary, a few generic terms have been included to establish a general understanding of cornerback philosophy and how his function relates to the rest of the defense.

Next week, I wrap up my dissertation of the cornerback position with more tasty tidbits relating to single/man-to-man coverage. Till next time, I am Gir Todafunk, signing off. You are not alone.

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