Best Zone Defense Football

Earl Hamilton
• Thursday, 12 November, 2020
• 12 min read

Zone coverage allows the defensive backs to read the quarterback and focus on the play as a whole rather than following their man around the field. Playing a zone defense is also usually less exhausting for a defense because it involves staying in one area.

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Finally, zone defense minimizes big plays because of the safeties automatically occupying deep areas. Playing zone means your defensive backs need to be able to recognize and thwart offensive patterns quicker than they happen, which is no easy task.

It is often viewed as an easily-solvable defense, but it has many variations that are used at higher levels of competition. This play is usually reserved for use against a Hail Mary when the offense is in a do-or-die situation.

At Odds Shark, we rank the best NFL defensive teams in more than a dozen important categories. And studying these defensive rankings in yards per play, the fewest first downs allowed, the fewest passing yards per attempt can give you a real advantage at online sports books every week.

However, it can be misleading if they are facing lousy red- zone offenses or if they have gotten lucky with turnovers. Click the headings on each column to re-sort the category and see the best defensive NFL stats page on the Internet.

Everyone loves offense and wants to be a “star”, but it’s defense that wins championships, and it’s defense that wins mud and slush Bowls. In flag football, it is extremely crucial that everyone swarms to the ball.

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The linebacker (LB) in this situation is extremely crucial and is playing a modified zone. Two of the LB shave to rush the QB (see the arrows).

That means if the wide receiver is in the zone, cover him. If the quarterback decides to sneak to your side, cover him.

If a player you are covering goes to the middle, leave him for the linebacker. The linebacker (LB) may also line up with you and pretend to rush, but will ultimately drop back to cover the QB or any lineman that release for a pass.

If you sub a lot of guys in as Lbs to rush, the better you will be at sacking the QB. Linebacker: Watch the QB and don’t let him run.

In flag football, QBs love running, and if no one is watching, the QB will get a lot of yards on you. The Linebacker will also have to pick up offensive linemen that go out for a pass.

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Danger: The QB may fake a run out to one side, drawing the linebacker with him, and then an offensive lineman releases for a pass on the other side. The safety will have to be watching this, and run up to make the play.

Linebackers and safeties have to know their positions, coordinate and talk to each other. The game will be won or lost by the play of the Linebackers and Safety.

If a wide receiver is getting open deep, the safety on that side covers. If the QB goes for a run, don’t bite hard until he crosses the line of scrimmage and is committed to running.

If an offensive lineman goes out, the linebacker will cover him short, while the safety picks him up deep. If a corner blitzes, the linebacker covers the now open wide receiver short, and safety covers him deep.

Don’t forget to grab out Dominating Flag Football book from Amazon! Just as you would prepare for a true triple-option team, you must play assignment sound and disciplined football when defending the zone read.

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Initially the scheme was designed to put stress on the defensive ends by leaving them unblocked and having to make the decision on whether to attack the dive or play the quarterback. We used this as our base structure due to the fact that we can utilize movement to change up the B gap.

We then identify the potential ball carrier with the terms lateral or downhill. We also place a major focus on reading the mesh point with an emphasis on the near hip of the lateral threat. I will explain how we defend these plays out of our base defensive looks. While the B-Gap backer squeezes down inside and scrapes to take the quarterback (lateral threat).

For our base way of playing it to the 3/6, we will use our squat and plug technique. Our 6 technique will squat and take the quarterback (lateral threat) and anything that rolls behind the offensive tackle.

The A-Gap backer will plug the A gap and take the running back (downhill threat). The offense will also use the tight end as an option receiver utilizing their secondary read, normally the linebacker or safety depending upon your defensive alignment.

Defending the Zone Read Option If a team utilizes two backs, an orbit receiver, a slot receiver or an H-back as a second option threat as a part of their pitch phase; it’s all married together. The best way of teaching is through concepts. The option phase will be handled by either our overhang linebacker or safety. See Diagrams 5 and 6 for a few examples.

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The read isn’t an easy one, it is something that requires multiple reps. You can also make adjustments in the back end to change up the look as well. Now, offenses have found another way to execute a similar philosophy but utilize it as a fly-sweep option.

Concepts versus the perimeter run play consist of the same techniques, but changes the lateral and downhill threats. Run fit card followed by the actual play on video rep.

Team to run through plays versus multiple defensive calls. Divide the defensive front, utilizing the look team and execute the proper technique and responsibility to the different looks.

Used to get looks at front-7 and to gain recognition of the various alignments and backfield sets what play type to expect. Drawing of offensive plays by personnel and formation versus defensive fronts Voice overs.

It has been a valuable asset to give players a written test in which they actually draw themselves executing their assignment. Have an organized approach to put your players in the best situation to understand their assignment.

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The confidence in a student-athlete who is prepared for the game will be very high and give them an opportunity for success. Your team’s approach to stopping the run starts mentally. As in the case of anything you stress as being important, your players will buy into and develop a mindset for success.

Offensive coordinators will continue to find new ways to stress defenses and defensive coordinators will continue to find ways to attack offensive schemes. They key to teach your concepts and give your players the best opportunity for success.

Garry Fisher began at Tennessee State in January 2017 as the defensive coordinator. He joined the staff after spending the 2016 season at Western Illinois as linebackers coach and co-special teams coordinator.

For more interesting articles, check out AFCAInsider.com and subscribe to our weekly email. If you are ready to join, please fill out the AFCA Membership Request Form.

Zone coverage (also referred to as a zone defense) is a defense scheme in gridiron football used to protect against the pass. Zone coverage schemes require the linebackers and defensive backs to work together to cover certain areas of the field, making it difficult for the opposing quarterback to complete passes.

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Zone defenses will generally require linebackers to cover the short and midrange area in the middle of the field, in front of the safeties. In the following, “cover” refers to the “shell” that the defense rolls into after the snap of the ball, more specifically the number of defenders guarding the deep portion of the field.

The general terminology used to describe this alignment is “Cover #,” with “#” being the number of defensive players forming the coverage shell. Essentially, during the pre-snap read, each defender identifies the coverage responsibilities and does not change the assignment.

Examples of these switches include double covering a certain receiver and using defensive help to undercut a route to block a throwing lane. Advantages Cover 1 schemes are usually very aggressive, preferring to proactively disrupt the offense by giving the quarterback little time to make a decision while collapsing the pocket quickly.

Or the corner back may blitz with the safety rotating into man coverage on the receiver post-snap. The deep defender must decide which receiver to help out on, leaving the other in man coverage which may be a mismatch.

A secondary weakness is inherent in its design: the use of man coverage opens up yards after catch lanes. Diagram of the Cover 2 defense In traditional Cover 2 schemes the free safety (FS) and strong safety (SS) have deep responsibilities, each guarding half of the field.

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(It is difficult to implement Cover 2 from an eight-in-the-box front, because the strong safety or someone replacing him is usually the eighth man). For example, Cover 2 Man means 2 safeties have deep responsibility while the corner backs and linebackers follow their offensive assignment in one-on-one coverage.

The NFL's Los Angeles Rams inherited a base Cover 2 Man 3-4 from Wade Phillips. Teams that play Cover 2 shells usually subscribe to the “bend-but-don't-break” philosophy, preferring to keep offensive players in front of them for short gains while limiting long passes.

This is in stark contrast to a more aggressive Cover 1 type scheme which leaves the offensive team's wide receivers in single man-to-man coverage with only one deep helper. By splitting the deep field between two defenders, the defense can drastically reduce the number of long gains.

In Cover 2 the corner backs are considered to be “hard” corners, meaning that they have increased run stopping responsibilities and generally defend against shorter passes, although if two receivers run a deep route on a certain side of the field, that side's corner has deep coverage responsibility as well. The “hard” corners also generally bear the responsibility of “pressing” or “jamming” the offensive receivers- disrupting the receivers intended path downfield.

This strategy may be employed to trick a quarterback who has not correctly interpreted the shift. Advantages The advantage of cover 2 is that it provides great versatility to the defense as the corners can play run, short pass, and deep pass with the confidence that they have support from two deep safeties.

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Disadvantages The main weakness of the Cover 2 shell occurs in the middle of the field between the safeties. At the snap of the ball, many times the safeties will move toward the sidelines in order to cover any long passes to quick wide receivers.

By sending a receiver (usually a tight end) into the hole (in the middle of the field), the offense forces the safety to make a decision: play the vulnerable hole or help out on the wide receiver. This disadvantage is ameliorated somewhat in the Tampa 2 variation, however in moving the middle linebacker into deep coverage, it opens up the “underneath” center zone in the 5-10 yard range.

Another disadvantage of Cover 2 is that it leaves only seven men in the “box” (the area near the ball at the snap) to defend against the run. A potential problem with the Cover 2 is that defensive pressure on the Quarterback must be provided nearly exclusively by the front linemen as all other defenders are involved in pass coverage.

If the defensive linemen do not provide adequate pressure on the Quarterback, the offense is afforded plenty of time to create and exploit passing opportunities. Blitzing in the Cover 2 often creates greater areas of weakness in the defense than other coverages.

On the snap, the CB's work for depth, backpedaling into their assigned zone. The other safety is free to rotate into the flat area (about 2–4 yards beyond the line of scrimmage), provide pass coverage help, or blitz.

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Advantages One of the biggest benefits of the Cover 3 coverage scheme is the ability to walk the strong safety up into the box with minimal to no changes in the coverage due to the pre-wrap center field position of the free safety. Disadvantages Cover 3 schemes are susceptible to short, timed passes to the outside due to the hard drop of both corner backs.

This puts pressure on the outside linebackers to react to pass plays and get into their drop quickly if they need to cover a receiver. Because of this, teams will often employ slight wrinkles in their coverage to confuse offenses.

Upon snap, the CB's work for depth, backpedaling into their assigned zone. Therefore, this coverage is generally used as a prevention defense to be used near the end of a game or half, meaning that the defense sacrifices the run and short pass to avoid giving up the big play with the confidence that the clock will soon expire.

This gives the defense nine in the box and the ability to stop the run with an extra defender on either side. Disadvantages The main weakness of Cover 4 shells is the large amount of space left open by the retreating defensive backs.

Since the defensive backs are working for depth, short pass routes underneath can enable the quarterback to make short- and medium- length passes, as well as isolate a defensive back on a wide receiver near the sideline with little help. The free safety covers the boundary-side deep half and the boundary corner plays the flat.

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The quarters play of the strong side safety, like the Steelers' Troy Palatal, allows him to support on runs quickly. The “Will” backer will play hook to curl or blitz depending on the call.

The boundary safety plays at 12–15 yards and supports the boundary corner, providing good pass defense over the top, as well as being able to assist on any vertical release by a 3rd receiver from the field side. The field side corner can be left in single coverage deep as well.

On runs, the field side may be spread by a tight end and 2 receiver formation, offering an advantage on the edge. Cover 0 is an aggressive scheme that allows for numerous blitz packages, as it's easier for players to drop off their coverage and rush the quarterback.

Tampa 2 refers to a style of defense played by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and implemented by its coaches, Tony Dingy, Love Smith, and Monte Kyffin, in recent years. Its benefit over the Cover 3 is that it only dedicates two defensive backs to deep coverage rather than three, allowing for better protection against short outside routes.

The Tampa 2 generally requires a quick and agile middle linebacker who is capable of staying with tight ends and wide receivers in pass coverage. ^ Bowen, Matt How Did Franco beat Giants' Cover 0 Pressure.

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