Why You Can Run Cover 3 vs. 4 Verticals


As I was watching the Seahawks play the Broncos in the Super Bowl this year, I kept having a single thought creep into my head: The Seahawks are playing a TON of cover 3!! Now, I follow the Seahawks closely enough to know that they run a lot of cover 3 and use cover 1 and their change – up.

Mike Chan (writer for Field Gulls) does a great job detailing how the Seahawks play cover 3. The beauty of cover 3 is that the offense will rarely hit the big play and you can play 8 men in the box versus the run.

cover 3 vs 4 verticals

Basic 2×2 Versus Our Cover 3

Basics of Cover 3 vs 4 Verticals

The first reply I hear about cover 3 from an offensive coach is that it is vulnerable to 4 verticals. Since cover 3 has three deep defenders, it is natural to think that 4 verticals would be an easy route to throw.

I believe that is an incorrect assumption for many reasons. The first reason is that the outside linebacker will collision #2 and disrupts his route, which throws off the timing of the concept.

Second, the corners are going to lean towards #2 and speed turn the throw to #1. I have not seen many high school quarterbacks that can make the throw to the outside vertical against cover 3 and almost NO coaches who teach their QB to throw the outside vertical.

Third, the middle of field (MOF) safety will stay on the goalpost and stay top – down on all routes until the quarterback’s front hand comes off of the football. This ensures that the quarterback cannot look him off and he can close the space on the seam route. Lastly, the hook / curl droppers must open and get to the hash at 10 – 12 yards and make the quarterback put air on the football. That is the hardest drop because your hook / curl players are heavily involved in the run fit.

Now, will some seam throws be completed in 7 on 7… ABSOLUTELY!! However, in a REAL GAME, the receivers will not want to catch the football down the seam because they are going to get DRILLED by the safety or the corner. Your safety and corners must be players who are not afraid of separating the ball from the receiver.

I have some cut – ups of us playing cover 3 against 4 verticals and seam routes.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article and please feel free to email me (zach.davis24@gmail.com) or tweet me (@zachdavis24). May the LORD bless you this season!!