We are well into our offseason review of the various offensive and defensive principles used throughout the NFL. We’ve even shown you the details of the special teams playbook. Recently, our Jim Miller reviewed defensive coverages and how the QB’s recognition of what the defense is doing is critical to his success. Today, I thought I’d pull out a great segment I did with former Steelers head coach and current studio analyst on CBS’ NFL Today show Bill Cowher, giving the defensive perspective on playing coverages.
Cover 2 is a zone coverage that is used extensively throughout the NFL. The main feature is two deep safeties each covering a deep half of the field. Super Bowl champion coach Bill Cowher told me that what he likes about playing Cover 2 behind his favored 3-4 front, is that it gives him five underneath (5-under) defenders in coverage. He has what he calls “hook defenders” for all the short areas of the field, which forces the QB to throw down the deep middle of the field.
In this coverage, extra stress is put on the middle linebacker (or one of the inside backers in the 3-4) to get to the deep middle and run with a TE or RB in coverage. That takes a player with some athleticism. Coach also said it requires the cornerbacks to play as run defenders on the edge, and they have to be good tacklers. It also didn’t hurt Coach Cowher to have a strong safety named Troy Polamalu, who was a master at disguising his coverage before the snap, and a freakish athlete who could do many different things on the field.
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