Beating Cover 2

By Marcelo Metzelar, Contributing Writer
​The series of plays that led to this week’s AFT Network’s Play of the Week began when the Green Bay Blizzard got the go-ahead touchdown vs Sioux Falls. With twenty seconds to go in the game, Green Bay’s Lenorris Footman found Kezlow Smith for the game winner.
The play call took advantage of Sioux Falls’ Cover 2 Sky Coverage. Formationally, the Blizzard stretched the field as much vertically as they did horizontally. The rules clearly that there must be four men on the line of scrimmage (LOS). The LOS is the imaginary line from the back tip of the football and extends from sideline to sideline. In the figure below, X is the fourth man on the line with the three down linemen. The right lineman is an eligible receiver but is kept home to block on most situations. This is why the linebacker is aligned over the right side.
Picture ​Both motion men were aligned on the right side which is the wide side of the field. This makes contact at the snap difficult because the receivers have the space to avoid the block.
Picture ​The pass concept is a 15 yard “In” route by X, “post” by Y, and a “go” route by Z. This is a classic concept that is geared to take advantage of Cover 2 Sky coverages. The Cover 2 concept means that there are two man covering the deep routes. In an ideal world, this means the free safety has from the middle of the field to the left sideline, and the cornerback has the middle of the field to the right sideline. See the figure below:
Picture ​Z’s go route forces the CB to play more to the right of his zone. As Y heads toward the middle, the free safety’s responsibility is to cover the middle and to not get beat deep because he has no help behind him. The routes run by Y and Z stretch the defense vertically, leaving larger seams between the zones covered by linebackers and safeties. The 15-yd in by X “high-lows” the free safety as he becomes the quarterback’s read. Cover Y deep, and the 15-yard in opens up. Cover the X; and Y beats him deep.
Picture As with last week’s column about Jimmy and Joe, a great individual effort by Smith helped make the score happen and led to the eventual game winner. Prime time players will make prime time plays. Included with the play of the week this week are two additional fantastic plays that made the win possible.
A great onside kick recovery and a great passed defensed made the win possible. Many can say it was a lucky onside recovery, but luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. The onside kick recovery was a prepared and practiced play, as evidenced by its peculiarity. Rather than kicking the ball the traditional ten yards to make the ball accessible to the kick off team’s fastest players; the ball was kick thirty yards downfield!
Onside kicks do not happen by telling the team, “Go downfield and recover the ball!” It’s a part of the weekly game plan. The kicker needs to know where to kick the ball. The kick off team needs to know where the kicker is kicking it. Every player has an assignment, between knocking receiving team’s players off the ball, to the actual recovery. Far too often, I will see a coach berating his players for not watching enough football. I can watch a movie, but that doesn’t make me a screen writer. Kudos must be given to the Blizzard coaching staff for preparing their team for this situation, and of course, the win.

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