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Daniel Grigoriev
Daniel Grigoriev

Defense Zone 2 [UPD]

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. 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 case where one or two linebackers blitz, the remaining linebacker(s) expands his zone to cover the zone responsibilities of the vacating linebacker(s). Often, blitzing will leave larger holes in the pass defense, but it is a gamble the defensive coordinator wants to make to pressure the quarterback into a poor decision and hopefully an interception or at least an incompletion.

Defense Zone 2

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In passing situations, the defense will assign players to guard portions of the field, forming a defensive "shell" that the defense hopes will either prevent the offense from completing a pass or ensure a defensive player is able to tackle the receiver after a completed pass. The general terminology used to describe this alignment is "Cover #," with "#" being the number of defensive players forming the coverage shell.

Cover One is a man-to-man coverage[1] for all the defensive backs except for one player (usually a safety) who is not assigned a man to cover but rather plays deep and reacts to the development of the play.[2] Often the safety will remain in a pass coverage position and play a zone defense by guarding the middle of the secondary, reacting to runs or completed passes and double-teaming a receiver if needed.

In traditional Cover 2 schemes the free safety (FS) and strong safety (SS) have deep responsibilities, each guarding half of the field.[3][4] The NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, and New York Giants run a variant of this defense called the Tampa 2. The primary difference between traditional cover 2 and Tampa-2 is the responsibility of the middle linebacker. In traditional cover 2, the middle linebacker covers the underneath zone, with the two safeties taking responsibility for half of the field in the deep zone. Tampa 2 is a hybrid of cover 2 and cover 3 (see below) where the deep safeties have responsibility only for the deep zone "outside the hashes", while the middle linebacker drops into the middle quarter of the field, covering deep passes between the hash marks.

Cover 2 can be run from any seven-man defensive fronts such as the 3-4 and the 4-3. (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). Various "underneath" coverage played by cornerbacks and linebackers may also be implemented. For example, Cover 2 Man means 2 safeties have deep responsibility while the cornerbacks and linebackers follow their offensive assignment in one-on-one coverage. Cover 2 can also be paired with underneath zone schemes: Cover 2 Zone refers to 2 safeties with deep responsibility but now the CBs and LBs drop back into specific coverage zones where they defend passes only in their assigned area.

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.

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.

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. This movement creates a natural hole between the safeties that can be attacked. 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. The quarterback reads the safety's decision and decides on the best matchup (i.e., which mismatch is better: tight end vs. safety or wide receiver vs. cornerback). 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.

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. Thus, unsuccessful blitzes can prove to be more productive for the offense than in other schemes.

In Cover 3, the two corners and free safety each have responsibility for a deep third of the field, while the strong safety plays like a linebacker.[5][6][7] This coverage is generally considered to be a run stopping defense as it focuses on preventing big pass plays and stopping the run while giving up short passes.

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-snap center field position of the free safety. This enables the defense to play strong against the run, but still prevent explosion plays such as a long pass or break away run. This advantage is most pronounced versus two tight end sets which naturally creates 8 holes for running backs, whereas in cover 2 schemes there are only 7 defenders in the box leaving 1 hole uncovered, or requiring a defender to cover 2 holes.

Another disadvantage of Cover 3 schemes is they are relatively easy to diagnose by opposing quarterbacks. Because of this, teams will often employ slight wrinkles in their coverage to confuse offenses. An example of this includes employing man coverage on one side and zone on another or swapping coverage zones between defenders. It also leaves the seams open, and makes the safety choose a man to cover on four verticals, which leaves one open.

The main advantage of a Cover 4 defense is that it is extremely difficult for even the best quarterbacks to complete long passes against it. Therefore, this coverage is generally used as a prevent 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.

Cover 4 also has the advantage of using safeties in run support as opposed to cornerbacks as would be the case in a Cover 2 scheme. This gives the defense nine in the box and the ability to stop the run with an extra defender on either side. The play-side safety would come up in support on a running play while the back-side safety would be responsible for the middle third of the field and the cornerbacks would have the deep outside thirds.

On the strong side, the corner and safety play "Cover 4 rules", which as above the corner and safety each have a quarter of the field working for depth in their zones. The "Sam" linebacker will be dropping outside to cover the flats. If in 3-4 the Middle Backer will cover that sides hook to curl if not blitzing.

Tampa 2 refers to a style of defense played by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and implemented by its coaches, Tony Dungy, Lovie Smith, and Monte Kiffin, in recent years. Because of its success it has become popular with many professional and college teams. It blends the Cover 2 and Cover 3 defenses by having two defensive backs, usually the safeties, in deep coverage on either side of the field, and a middle linebacker covering the medium to deep middle. Its benefit over the Cover 2 is that the sidelines and middle of the field are better protected against deep threats, with the drawback being a larger open area in the short middle of the field underneath the middle linebacker. 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.

The biggest difference between a man-to-man and a zone defense is that instead of being responsible for a certain offensive player, all defensive players are instead responsible for an area of the court. The image shows the main areas each position is responsible for but keep in mind that they definitely do overlap at times depending on where the ball is on the court.

For example, if you do have a big and slow team, the most effective way to use a 2-3 zone may be to play a patiently, limit trapping, and force the offense to move the ball around until they can find a gap or an open shot.

On the other hand, if you have a small and fast team, the most effective way to use a 2-3 zone may be to trap often, force the offense to take quick shots and make rushed decisions, look for steals, and keep the tempo of the game as fast as possible.

1. Everyone must have active hands and be in stanceGreat passing is one of the weaknesses of the zone. If teams are able to effectively make passes inside the zone the whole floor opens up for the offensive team. The defense must keep their hands up and active at all times to discourage passes inside and get deflections. Being in stance makes it quicker to react when a pass is made or a potential steal opportunity arises.

4. No layupsThis point may seem like the odd one out but it must be included. Do not allow layups against your zone. Players must not make it easy for the offensive team inside. 041b061a72


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