We’ve seen quarters coverage excel at the college level, in it’s many variations. We’ve seen TCU run forms of quarters coverage. We’ve seen Penn State run quarters coverage. We’ve seen Michigan State use it most recently with great success.
At the NFL level, Coach Billichek of the New England Patriots has run cover 4 or other quarters coverage variations in the past.
The list goes on and on. But just because the “big leagues” use it, does it mean your team can run quarters coverage too?
The Theory of Quarters Coverage
The first thing to know about quarters coverage is that it’s highly flexible. There are multiple variations of this cover 4 concept…
Some Variations of Quarters Coverage
- Regular Cover 4
- 2 Read or Cover “44”
- Quarter Quarter Half
- Hard Cover 2
- Inverted Cover 2
- And other quarters coverage variations
What’s great about quarters coverage is that it is flexible and you can also RECYCLE the learning AND technique.
That’s right. One coverage for almost EVERY situation and against almost all formations. Yes, there might be a few coverages that are better against some formations and plays, but quarters coverage, 9.5 times out of 10, will put you in an excellent position to excel defensively.
I know what you’re thinking though. Most of these teams, like Michigan State, or Wisconsin under their previous staff, have terrific athletes,and you don’t.
Well, what if I told you that high schools across the country run it?
For instance, two of the top teams in the last 10 years in Illinois have started running quarters coverage.
One of these teams is a historic power who experienced arguably greater success by increasing their wins per season by about 10%.
The other? It went from a .500 ball club to a team that went to 4 semi-final appearances in a 6 year span, and two state championship appearances.
Want to know more? Neither of these teams have exceptional talent on defense. Both are undersized.
What do they have? They have decent to good athletes at safety, and confident corners. I didn’t say exceptional safeties, or amazing corners. They have good athletes, who play with confidence.
You might say that your secondary doesn’t have confidence…
Confidence comes from success and knowing your assignment. Because these kids recycled their learning AND technique by using quarters coverage, they were confident.
Exploring the Quarters Coverage Variations
Each team will use quarters coverage in different ways, and the will likely do it different from week to week.
That means your defense should have a large menu you pick from, but each week you should only bring in a few adjustments. However, because you’ve been practicing all these adjustments and checks since your spring or summer practices, you’ll be well positioned to show different looks each week, or whatever matches up best. This gives you options, something many coverages don’t give you.
You might be concerned about the work load in each coverage. However, quarters coverage variations are fairly similar to each other – basically your athletes will recycle what they know a good deal of the time. That also means they recycle technique.
For instance, regular cover 4 has the safety reading the offensive tackle or tight end for his run or pass key, before getting his eyes on the number two receiver (or number one if there isn’t a number two receiver).
In another quarters coverage variation called 2 read, or Cover “44” as Ron Vanderlinden, formerly of Penn State, calls it, the safety reads the release of the #2 receiver exclusively. Almost everything is the same, except the corner and safety are reading the release of #2. If #2 goes out towards the sideline, the corner will drop with #1 until the receiver will cross his horizontal. He will then drive on #2. The safety will get over the top of #1.
While that might sound risky, it’s usually only run into the boundary or run situations. That means you have more linebackers in the box.
That means you can stop the run, and the bubble pass, and 4 verticals and other deep concepts.
That last point is why I love quarters coverage. Let’s explore it further.
The goal of quarters coverage
Quarters coverage can stop the running game because you get 9 men in the box versus 21 personnel, and you almost always have +1 in the box versus many formations. I say 9 men in the box because it happens almost immediately after the snap because the safeties are usually playing tight to the box (especially when they’re reading a linemen or the tight end).
Quarters coverage also stops the bubble pass. In almost all the variations, it has someone who can quickly attack the flat. Let’s see how:
Stopping the Bubble with Quarters Coverage
- In regular cover 4, you have a linebacker or nickel back near the #2 wide receiver, so versus two wide receivers to that side you have 3 over 2, not including an inside linebacker who will be fast flowing when he reads that #2 went outside and heard the calls from his teammates.
- In cover 2 read or cover “44”, you have multiple people reading the release of #2 and you can take away the flat concept right away with the corner, and you stop the big play fake with the safety getting over #1.
- In hard, traditional cover two, you have a flat corner right now. He’ll sink until #2 meets his horizontal
- Quarters Coverage can also take the plays built to take advantage of the corner. You basically force the quarterback to throw the ball at a tight angle, and the receiver either has a corner right on him or he has a safety flying full speed at him.
Here’s the other bonus – cover 4 stops 4 verticals relatively easily as well. Only quarterbacks with great arm strength or accuracy will fit the ball into tight windows, and even then their completion percentage is usually between 30-50% – enough to discourage a quarterback or offensive coordinator.
So if you have goals of stopping the run and not giving up big plays or points, cover 4 is the coverage for you.
Running Cover 4 or Quarters Coverage Variations
You can find out a lot about the intricate details on running cover 4, or quarters coverage, and using it to matchup to the offense’s routes by reading my ebook, 4-3 Quarters Matchup Coverage Principles. Don’t let the 4-3 scare you, almost all of it can be applied to the 3-4, 4-2-5, and even 3-3 stack if you get creative! That’s just for providing fronts in the book!
4-3 Quarters Matchup Coverage Principles gives you full detail on not just the coverage, but WHY you run the coverage. This is something most books won’t give you.
Oh, and guess what else? There are plenty of diagrams showing you alignment and giving you reasoning.
It details splitting the coverage in half – running one version to one side … and another version to the other! This provides you with MAXIMUM flexibility. Why would you not optimize for the receivers you’re seeing immediately? Find out how to do just that in my ebook on quarters coverages.
So what separates this from other materials? Instead of spending $40 on a 25 minute DVD with some guy talking about his stats for 10 minutes or $25 on some iffy book covering things you may or may not need to know, you’ll get in-depth details on the one thing you need to know, QUARTERS COVERAGE.
Which leads me to the cost. You can take this ebook with you because it’s just a PDF, email it to your staff, or print it out. And it only costs $8.99. Yep, so for the price of lunch once this week, you start making your defense better TODAY. If you’re an offensive coach, this will provide you some insight on the coverage that’s probably giving you some problems!
Don’t waste anymore time. Your opponents are getting better every day. You need to start getting better right now to keep up and get some W’s!
Start learning with 4-3 Quarters Matchup Coverage Principles, and find out how to run quarters coverages so you can start shutting down your opponents and getting your players to play with confidence and stifle the opposition!