Cover What…Cover Me

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What is cover 0?

  • Cover 0 is a straight man to man coverage, with no over the top help from your safeties.  

Why would we call a cover 0?

  • This would depend on the situation on the game and the players on the field, therefore let’s assume the following
    • Scenario I Strong Safety Blitz
      • Your DC call outs a strong side blitz for your Strong Safety, which then leads your Free Safety to stay home at the robber position (or covering the TE, depending on the formation).  Secondly, with cover 0 being called the cornerbacks know that they will not be getting any over the top help. When this type of blitz is called you are ensuring that your trust in your SS is merited, if not, you are leaving your CB’s on island all by themselves.

Let’s break this scenario down
Jets call weak side wing TE set
(2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 RB, 1 FB)

Mike Nolan calls 3-4 base, cover 0 Eagle claw Blitz (Remember your play call formations, first cadence is your D linemen 3, then your linebackers 4) Pause (Now your coverage assignments cover 0, is for your cornerbacks and the last part is for your Safeties)

Dolphins line up
DE: Odrick, Solia, Langford
LB: Crowder, Dansby, Misi, Wake
CB: Davis, Smith
FS/SS: McDaniels :) , Bell

Pre snap movement
Bell is the Eagle, Nolan called the claw blitz which translates to weak side, so coming from Misi’s inside corner blitz.  Now the best part of Strong Safety Blitzes is that they chose when to creep to the line or not show anything.
Special note, if Bell starts to creep, McDaniels should do the same, why? Great question, because it gives the illusion that there is a double blitz coming, but McDaniels is just setting himself up to play cover 0 on the TE.

Sanchez sets his team up, and calls his cadence. 
Bell starts creeping, roaming the field… McDaniels starts creeping to the line, on line with Keller, the New York Jets TE.

Assume no audible
Sanchez hikes the Ball.
Misi takes on the FB. McDaniels jams Keller at the line, straight line for a big hit…Bell rocks Greene for a 3 yard loss.

  • Scenario II Linebacker Blitz
    • It’s not just your SS that will can blitz, if your DC calls a blitz for your Lion and Tiger LB’s the SS and FS now have to take responsibility coverages on the TE and or RBs.  Once again leaving your CB’s with no over the top help.  This scenario is the same as the above, but instead of Bell blitzing you are revising to a LB.

What are the drawbacks of cover 0?

  • Except for the obvious that you are leaving your Cornerbacks alone with no over the top help, there are two other factors that opposing teams would absolutely do.
    • Play action
      • Using the above example, if Bell bit on the play action, think about Edwards or Holmes alone with no help on double moves or anything to that extent.  Sanchez would lead the WR to middle of the field for a big play
  • Audible
    • If Sanchez called an audible at line of scrimmage, Dansby would have to be quick on the field and call out a base set defense otherwise, you wouldn’t know what might be coming at you.

Any questions?


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