Tag Archives: football defense

3-4 Cover 2 Man Under Defense

In the era of the spread offense it has become essential to employ a defense that can maximize numbers in the box and still provide excellent pass coverage. Offenses are using the entire field and defenses must be able to defend from sideline to sideline and still have enough players in the box to stop the run. Our base defense was a 4-2-5 this past season, but we played a 3-4 cover two man look versus pure spread teams (Air Raid / Tony Franklin System).

In our classification we see mostly 21/22 personnel but when we play teams that are mainly 10/11 personnel we utilized our 3-4 cover 2 man defense. The following paragraphs will detail the reads, alignment and assignment of each position in our two man package.
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Coaching Defensive Football – Simple Defense

Coaching Football Defense – Keep It Simple Stupid

Football coaches today constantly discuss the growing complexities of defensive football. You hear it all the time on ESPN and when you hear offensive football coaches speak at football clinics. But here is the bottom line, some of best defenses, at any level, have been those that keep it simple. I think this applies especially at the high school level.

Discipline and Technique is Key

As a football coach, I’ve noticed a growing trend. The best athletes need to play on defense. Now, that’s not to say he can’t have a role on offense if he is the most electric player in your program. However, playing the best athletes on defense is crucial. But that’s not why we coach, and it’s only 1/10 of the battle. You need to coach these players, so they are disciplined and technically sound on every single play. You need these defensive players to have ownership of your scheme to a certain extent so they believe in it, so they have a true passion for it.

I should say this, when I say most athletic football players, I don’t always mean the kid with the best 40 time or who benches the most. Being athletic is a mental state of mind. It’s the ability to process information faster, to understand a system and to excel. The big question is, how can we, as football coaches, enable the best of our football players to do just that?

Simple Football Defense

I believe in systems that are very simple. I’m not talking about terminology or which coverage is best. Cover 4 is a complicated coverage, but it can be very simple for an 18 year old if you coach it up. Coaching it up is the key aspect here. Coaching football understanding is pivotal. Your defensive football system needs to be taught simply.

Simple Football Defensive Fronts

In Illinois, some of the best defensive football teams in the state are athletic and disciplined. They also primarily only have two, MAYBE three fronts. All three of these fronts, be them the 4-3 Over front, or the 4-3 Under, or the 3-4, or 4-2-5, whatever the case is, their second and third front has highly recyclable skills to the base front. This is similar to my post on recycling blocking schemes for offense. So let’s say you run the 4-3 Over front and you want a 4-3 Under variation for heavy running situations. In both defenses, you should always be using the same skills. Maybe your defensive ends need to always spill Teaching a 4-3 Over front as your base defense and then using the classic 3-4 or 50 Okie defense where everyone is head up is a waste because the skills of your defensive linemen and linebackers are completely different.

Simple Football Defensive Coverages

While coaching a simple defensive front is important, it’s the coverage that is critical to skills like spilling. I know some teams that hardly ever zone blitz because it would change how their edge players would act, because in some coverages their players would now need to box out rather than spill the kickout. The coverage sets the front’s technique.

Besides interacting with the front 7, a common base defense coverage family is critical for the defensive secondary as well. Coaching your kids to play the cover 4 coverage all the time may make sense for you. A coverage that relates to that is Quarter Quarter Half. At the same time, maybe 2 read is your adjustment for teams that throw the bubble. Remember, it’s how you teach it that is important. Maybe you don’t need to tell your kids you’re playing what we defensive football coaches consider a different coverage. Maybe whenever they see a back in the backfield, cover 4 uses a “sky” call, which is quarter quarter half to us, but to them the only difference really is that the weakside safety is taking the flat.

Why Coach Defense Like This?

Yes, you will run into a smart coach or a smart quarterback every once in a while who can take advantage of some of the aspects of your defense. Having a few, and I mean a few, checks can usually cover every scenario. While you may run into that Division I QB every once in a while who causes you fits, you still will likely be in a great spot and that kid is still only 18, just like your kids. If you’re playing against a good coach who tries to take advantage of your simplicity and has an answer for all your checks, just remember their kids probably haven’t spent enough time to be perfect at all those adjustments themselves.

Overall, I feel you will be in a good spot for most games. Teams who spend their time focusing on a few simple schemes and really hammering down the technique and discipline required to execute them well will win enough games to get into the playoffs unless the talent versus their opponent’s talent is vastly superior.

Make sure you check out my latest video blog post on Coaching the Cover 4 versus the Spread Offense! Also, check out ChiefPigskin for some other great videos!

Why You Should Understand Football Offense and Defense

Understanding Offensive and Defensive Football

Would you try to cut the wire on a ticking time bomb if you didn’t have a general understanding on how it worked?

Let me start by saying I just received my copy of Developing a Defensive Gameplan by Kenny Ratledge.  This is a very detailed book, and the very first thing I noticed about this was that over half of this book was dedicated to understanding offense.

That inspired this post.  I’ve run into a problem with some coaches recently, and I hope its not a trend.  Offensive coaches don’t want to really learn defense, and defensive coaches don’t want to learn offense.  This is very disturbing to me. I love both sides of the ball.  I’ve been born and raised as an offensive coach (I played offensive line, I’ve coached offensive line and runningbacks).  However, I’ve also coached linebackers and defensive line in my short coaching career.  I truly love both sides of the football. 

The Problem – Football Coaches Don’t Respect The Other Side

However, more and more coaches seem so interested in their side of the ball, it’s disgusting.  These aren’t simply young coaches, they are experienced coaches too!  On top of that, some have been very successful at the high school level, and some have done very poorly.  As I mentioned in my film analysis posts where I look into both Defensive Game Film Analysis and Offensive Game Film Analysis, a coach must thoroughly understand both themselves and their opponent.  Only then can you put together a sound game plan and really understand what the tape is showing you. 

Even if I was simply an offensive line coach, I would still have purchased several books.  I own a book one the basics of almost every defense imaginable, the over, the under, the 30 stack (multiple books on this since it’s a pain in the butt to block), the eagle, the 46.  I’ve read books by Arnsparger,Vanderlinden and Fritz Shurmur. I truly try to understand play calling philosophies, run fronts, secondary run support, and what defensive coaches love about their defense.  On Coach Huey’s Football Forum, which I highly recommend, I constantly read the defensive thread.  I want to understand all the nooks and crannies so I can exploit them. 

How Football Basics and Fundamentals Play In

Teaching Young Coaches

I understand that most young coaches make a crucial mistake in their early years.  They learn the X’s and O’s, and forget the fundamentals.  I humbly disagree and offer this ammendment.  Most young coaches learn the side of the football they played in and know it well from their position’s perspective.   Why? Because they are comfortable and confident.  Instead, experienced coaches should encourage these kids to simply learn the fundamentals from a position on the other side of the football.  This will accomplish a few things, it will make a young overconfident coach shut his trap as he learns the other side of the ball.  On the other hand, it will also encourage that young coach to understand this completely different perspective.  Suddenly, his eyes will open up.  This will breed success in your program as you develop coaches.  Take that with a grain a salt of coarse, as I am not a head coach, however, I strongly believe in this philosophy.

Perhaps hidden in the concept of moving a young coach to the other side of the ball is the fact that he will need to learn the fundamentals of that position.  By doing that, it will take him to back to basics approach.  Suddenly, he won’t have all the answers and can’t use all the drills he learned when he played.  He now has to rely on older, more experienced coaches or other resources in order to accomplish his daily tasks with his position group.  This will take away time where he will be drawing x’s and o’s or looking for the latest and greatest play in a book.

Helping Experienced Coaches

By understanding the other side of the ball, you can put your kids in the best position to succeed as you break down film and on game day.  As an offensive line coach, I try to obviously watch the blocking but also who makes the tackle.  If I understand the defense in it’s fundamental form, I can figure out what their game plan is or what their kids are taught, and I can defeat that scheme and put our athletes in the best position to win.  For instance, if the safety on the backside of an Under front is making a whole lot of plays as we cut back, then I know I need to get him out of the box.  I need to manipulate my formations or have the offensive co-ordinator adjust his play calling to accomplish this.  Maybe I go into a twins look to force the safety out of the box or run a drag route with the tight end where that safety used to be.

However, if I didn’t understand the defense, I couldn’t make these assumptions. I could make some assumptions about why he’s making the tackle, but I could very well be wrong.  This could easily put our kids in a very poor position to be successful.

From a defensive coach’s perspective, understanding offensive football is a must.  That is why over HALF of Kenny Ratledge and a great deal of other books and real defensive playbooks you may come across online are  focused on offense.   Giving the kids and your coaching staff common language for understanding formations, routes, philosophies, plays, and blocking schemes are critical for your success on the football field.   Spending the little bit of time to go over this is crucial for your success as a defensive coach.

Conclusion – Understanding the Whole Picture

By understanding the whole picture, you will become a better coach.  Not only will it help you understand how to put your kids in the best position to be successful, but it will help you become more well rounded.  If you hope to become a head coach some day, this is crucial as you develop your own personal philosophies on football.  In addition, even if you don’t become a head coach, it will help you interact with coaches from the other side of the football.  Often times, they are your best tool to understanding that perspective of the game and many coaches fail to utilize their comrades from across the line of scrimage.

Essentially you need to make sure you understand if it’s the blue wire or the red wire your going to cut before you disarm that bomb.