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QB Challenge - Recognizing Cover 2

This is a detailed explanation of our latest QB Challenge. QB Challenges are hosted on our Instagram a few times a week, click the photo above to link directly to our account.

Context - 1st & 10, down by 2, need points but not necessarily a TD. Your opponent is a 2 Hi Safety team who will play man or zone, and the MLB has a few INTs on the year because he likes to drop for depth when he has no threat.

1. Is this a man or zone look? What tipped you off?
2. Which defender would you read as the ball is snapped? What types of movement do you anticipate from him?
3. Once you get your initial read, who do you then have to keep the ball away from?

Keep your answers concise = enough critical detail to execute, no time on the field for indecision.

We got some great participation with some very thorough comments. The perfect answer would have been...

1. Zone, nobody on the TE

2. The SS/R. Widen + drop for depth to cover the deep half, or Inside drop for Cover 4

3. The Strong CB. He can only cover the Flag or the Flat and I'll throw to the uncovered option.

Lets go through this and unpack the details of this challenge to get a better understanding of what's happening here.

1. This is a zone look. First, we know from film study(Context Provided) that our opponent is a 2-Hi Safety team, so, don't expect rotation in this critical of a spot. When the game is in the balance, expect your opponents to do what they do best, just like you are going to call plays offensively that you know you can execute. The reason we can tell it's a zone, there is nobody accounting for the TE. If it were man, they would have someone responsible for him. Additionally, we know that it is most likely a Cover 2 because of the alignment of the LBs. If it were a Cover 4, the MLB would have an alignment closer to the TE because he would be responsible for matching up with him on the underneath routes. Lastly, the alignment of the Corners is usually unreliable as a tell because their zone technique could be / should be to slow the release of #1 and funnel him inside to narrow the field. Executing his zone responsibilities could easily be interpreted as a man look. So, simple rule of thumb, don't base coverage reads off the Corners Pre-Snap.

2. As we snap the ball, read the SS/R(Boundary Safety in this example), as we want to confirm our pre-snap thought of Cover 2. If he drops for width+depth to cover his deep half, we know its Cover 2. If he weaves inside we can adjust for Cover 4, if he makes huge moves and rotates strong or weak, we can react to that as well. No matter what our read does, we have a plan.

3. So, once we confirm it is Cover 2, we must find the flat defender, the CB, and keep the ball away from him. He can only cover either the flag route or the flat route and we will hit the uncovered receiver for an easy completion. If the CB plays soft and is underneath your flag route, take the flat. If he plays stiff and sits on your flat, there will be a nice window for your flag route. He can't be right.

Additional notes...

Since we know from the context that the MLB likes to drop for depth when he has no threat, any post over the middle with no back or check down underneath, is dead. We can eliminate that option through good game planning and film study.

The backside X, this is a tough spot as he is going to be 1 v 3. There is a CB, a Safety, and a LB on the backside that can all help in the coverage of him. This route is only an option when you get 1 v 1 coverage and you 100% love the match-up.

Hope this explaination gives you some tips and pointers on what to look for when facing a Cover 2 look Pre-Snap.

Until next time...

-Coach Nate Longshore

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