|The drink of all eight man front coaches!|
Rip/Liz cover three is a great adaptation to defending the spread offense, but does have one drawback, and that is that your force player is responsible for the vertical of the number two receiver. But Duece, that's no different than in any Quarters coverage scheme, so what's the big deal??? The big deal is the Quarters coverage force player is doing this from a depth of eight to 12 yards. In the eight man front, with a one high safety look, these players are doing their job from an invert depth of five yards off the LOS. This means that these players, must make their reads very quickly. The other issue, is that the outside safeties (OSS's) must align in outside leverage on the number two receiver, which means they can be out leveraged to be able to engage in their role as the force player.
|SS has a long way to go to force the ball, but must also handle the vertical of #2|
The way my staff and I handled this issue, was in a couple of ways. The first thing we did was not to change anything but the way our defensive line (DL) would play, a topic that we've already talked about, the Two-Gap/One-Gap scheme better known as TGOG. We would set the three technique to the field, so that the DE to the field side would be a one-gap player, thereby having him come up field hard and "box in" the play.
Another thing we did to add confusion was the 3-3 stack front talked about earlier, and we simply had the DE's play the two gap responsiblility and had the two tackles attack the A gaps in tandem based on our call.
Defending the Inside Run
Now, the 46 Nickel was something that was born out of this, but how I actually got in the 46 was very interesting. At first, the idea was to simply have the tackles align in three techniques and be one gap players as well as letting the DE's align in wide nine techniques and also play a one-gap technique. The strong side LB would walk down and stand over the nose while the weak side LB stacked behind as shown below:
|Sam rushed based on call (strong/weak/right/left), Mike responsible for A gap away from call|
|Bringing Mike and dropping Sam yielded some good results!|
The fire zone coverage was an easy install because relatively little changed for the underneath droppers. The only changes were that to the weak side or the short side, these defenders would play pure man to man defense. On the strong side, or wide side of the defense we used fire zone principles with a true number two dropper (SS) and a number three dropper (Mike/Sam-whoever dropped). So the final outcome would look like the illustration below:
Because of our athleticism at DE, we eventually went pure cover one for simplicity's sake. As you can clearly see, you can run the fire zone concept from this look quite easily.
The three, zero, three alignment freed up our LB's to play the run so much better because it eliminated the double teams that are present when you leave two gaps open instead of one. Once this was installed teams really struggled to run on us. We did give up some passes across the middle, and we began mixing in some cover one. We could do this because of the wide DE's as we could use them to force now.
A lot of folks would argue, "Duece you are no longer really a 4-2 anymore!", to which I would say, no we are, we just had to use some tricks to make things work better for us in areas where we did not match up very well. I think this is the goal of any good coach, as the idea that you must "stick to the scheme" will eventually get you fired. Adaptation and teaching are what are traits of all good football coaches. This ability to "make the parts work" is essential in finding success. For us, the schemes shown above took a defense that was giving up an average of 450 yards per game of total offense and allowed us to reduce that number to around 240 yards per game. Still not great, but the schemes helped to stop the bleeding. I know, scheme isn't everything, but when you are teaching the players correctly, and their God given abilities are failing them, you have to try to find ways around these deficiencies to try and find success. These schemes did just that.
In the last post, I'm going to discuss the role of the free safety (FS) in making the eight man front successful against the spread. I hope you find these post insightful as you do your off season homework. Remember champions are not made overnight!