Simple Checks for Sound Defense

Picture this: It’s 1st and 10, the ball is on the right hash. You’ve just come out of the mandatory waterbreak midway through the 2nd quarter and you know your opponent runs 99% of their plays from the I in this situation. 50/50 toss or iso.

You’ve called your base 4-4 G Cover 3 since you’re an avid ironmanfootball reader and have adopted our system. But what do you get? 2×2 set with 10 personnel. If you stick with G 3 you’re going to be gashed with any route combo from 4 verts to smash routes and even double-bubbles. What do you do?

As coaches, we break down endless hours of film and calculate percentages for: down and distance, run/pass, field/boundary, personnel groups, and endless other data. But the song remains the same, when your players line up and could be completely out-flanked based on your original call, you have to have a series of checks in place to get to the call you need, not the call you’ve made. With limited defensive practice time we have to make easy checks in order to work smart and not hard.

10 personnel, 2×2: Our immediate check any time we see 2×2 with 10p is to check to cover 2 on 1st and 10 or 2nd/3rd and short. If it’s 2nd/3rd and long- we check cover 4. However, this is a tough check because it requires communication to our rover to drop back to a safety position, our free safety to move from 10xG to 10 and split the difference between the slot and the OT. It requires our strong-side DE to move from a 6i to a 5.

10 personnel, 3×1: Our 3×1 check is cover 3. We roll our FS over #2, Sam is over #3, CB is over #1. In our cover 3- we spot drop. Our LBers have to BOW (balance on weak) leaving our CB on the 1-man side completely on an island.

00 personnel, 3×2: This is an empty look. We immediately check cover 4 which is a spot drop coverage. Our Rover drops off to 10 over split, our FS still plays over #2, our Sam plays over #3. We’re wary of a quick slant and 4 verts.

12 personnel, Ace: This will be a 2-TE 2×2 look with 1-back. We immediately check “heavy” with our OLB which moves our Weak-Def End into a 4-tech and he’ll slant inside, our Rover up on the line into a 7, our Sam on the line into a 7 and our Strong D-End into a 5. Our gaps stay relatively the same and we’re in cover 3.

32 or 22 personnel: With the wing-t, Wishbone, Power-I or Diamond-Gun formations, we check Mafia. In Mafia, our OLB are “heavy” (see above) and that changes the alignment of our DE’s. Our Mike is on auto-blitz and our Will has the low-hold. Our field corner will play up on the line while our boundary corner will stay at 5 yards. Our FS move to 8 deep and over #2. He’s playing man on #2. Mafia (cover 0) is the call.



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