This time around I will be talking about Middle of the Field Open (MOFO) coverage’s. How to get into them, what you can in them and why you want them. Note that this information is theoretical, I have yet to implement these ideas. However I will be presenting the Concept in such a manner that it is applicable to the system that I run and as such the concept is practicable.
The Odd Stack lends itself to using Cover 3 and Cover 1. With the basic Alignments these Coverage’s are also very strong against both pass and run. But there comes a time when you need immediate presence in the Flats and two Alley players. This is where MOFO coverage’s come in to the Gameplan. Although you can cover the flats with a Cloud Cover 3 this does not give you 2 Alley players.
MOFO coverage reduces your front to a seven man front, what does this mean for 8 man front bases? Your Force and Alley assignments change. In the case of this Defensive System the Contain (Chase) will also change.
The following Chalkboard shows the Adjustment to get into a MOFO shell versus a 21 Personel Splitback Formation.
The first adjustment is that the FS shifts over to the strong half of the field and the Rover adjusts high to the weak half of the field. Their alignment will be dictated by Apexing them between #1 and #2 WRs. Unless the #1 WR is inside the Hybrids Divider, in that case he will align outside shade.
Both cornerbacks assume an outside shade press position pre-snap.
The next rotation is that the Sam Tandem will Tilt in towards the Deepest Back in the Offensive Backfield from the 7tech. His stance will be based upon a 3pt stance for better explosion.
Now this is starting to look more like a 4-3 Cov2 look, however our Stack has not changed, this is the next and last change required.
The end result will look like this:
We now have a definite 7man Front with 2 Alley players, Rover and Free. We also have 2 new Force players Charlie and Como. Our 3man Line is supported by the Sam, this means that he is now the Chase player and Shark has rush. Stud is our third linebacker and he has been nested by the alignment of Sam and Shark.
The Defensive Line is the only moving piece in the puzzle that has not yet been adjusted. The reasoning is simple; Shark and Nose will now be Defensive Tackles and can change from 3 to 1 tech. Sam and Wolf are now Defensive Ends and can also change between 5 and 7tech, to allow for a variety of different Pre-Snap fronts.
It must be said however that if you’re going to keep the 404 front you are going to be weaker on the backside as the Nose is right on the midline. Although you have 1 more player on the strong side than they can block, you do not have this advantage to the weak side. This gives the Offence an advantage when running to the weak side and gives them free yards when they counter of their strong side runs. If you cheat your (new) Defensive Tackles to 3 and 1 techniques then you maintain your numbers to the strong side, but add to your weak side. Meaning that you now have more players to the Run side than they can block (assuming there are no pullers).
The question however remains: Why go to such lengths to adjust to a 2high shell?
The reason is practical: Time
Time is the foundation of sports. You have a set time to achieve your goals, you have a set time to refine your skills and you have a set time to plan your roadmap. For us as Football Coaches Time represents the amount of reps a player receives in Practice. We can only squeeze in so many reps before our next Practice Block or for many our next Defensive Practice Day. In the age of being Multiple, I place a premium being as vanilla as possible. I want to be true to the base Defence that we have spent the most time installing and repping.
My experiences have shown me that if you haven’t repped good enough for long enough in practice, then it has no place on the Gridiron. The skills our Linebackers and Hybrids learn to play an Odd Front in a Pattern Reading Cover 3 system should be able to be carried over to any other Front/Coverage combination that we install. That there are going to be some greater changes is ok.
The idea is that we reduce the amount of new skills to an absolute minimum, while maximizing the potential of our players to perform. My philosophy is to do this with Alignment. By keeping certain moving parts of the Defence common we are maximizing our Practice time and simultaneously minimizing the skills required.
The Run Fits for Blue and White (MOFO) are similar to Red and Green (MOFC).
As a rule I have tried to keep the LB Positions schematically Analogue to their Alignment. With this Front however we have a new alignment, the 7tech. Let us examine the Run Fits:
Run To 5tech (C Gap)
Run Away BS 1tech (A Gap)
Run To 3tech (B Gap)
Run Away PS 1tech (A Gap)
Run To 7tech (D Gap)
Run Away Chase
Run To Force
Run Away Collar
Run To 5tech (C Gap)
Run Away Chase
Run To 1tech (A Gap)
Run Away BS 1tech (A Gap)
Run to 3tech (B Gap)
Run Away BS 3tech (B Gap)
What can be seen is that the Run Fit Skill set is Analogue to the Skill Set from our Base Defence. There is not much that needs to be taught outside of the established system. As has been stated the oddity of this front is the Tilt 7 of the Sam.
As far as my system goes I reduce the pressure to Dogs (Single Blitzer) exclusively and remove the Sam calls. In this even front there are 6 2nd Level Defenders for 5 eligible receivers, so you need to plan your pressure accordingly. As far as pressure is concerned in Blue (2 high 4 under Zone coverage), we will always send either Stud, Mike or Will. When we are playing White (2 high man under), we will not pressure with a 2nd level players.
You can run a Cornucopia of coverages out of this shell in a multitude of ways. The aim of this blog is to highlight that you can continue with the underneath coverage that has been installed for the Cover 3. Naturally there are some differences, but as has been said previously, we are minimizing the changes.
We will now look at how we will install Cover 2. The reasons for choosing this coverage are that it complements the weaknesses that the Cover 3 presents, namely the untouched stem of the #1, and the loose protection in the Flats
To echo what was said in the Cover 3 (Green) blog, we use Pattern Reading when playing Zone. As such this post will relate to our Philosophy of Covering routes and recognising Patterns rather than Spot Dropping.
All Coverage is Man Coverage. The time taken to find the Man varies from Coverages. Spot Dropping takes the longest as the Coverage waits for the last Route to develop. Pattern Reading sits in the Middle as the Read is dependent on Routes developing. Man Coverage is the Fastest as the Read and Recognition is made Pre Snap.
Before we go further let us look at the Chalkboard and the Zones we will be covering in Blue:
As can be seen we are colour coding our Zones per Position. When we compare this to the Zones in Green we see similarities, this helps the players get used to the system.
The allocation to who covers where is simple, the Corners cover the Fades and the 2 players on 2nd level cover the Hook-Curl Zones. As in green we still only have 4 underneath Zones, designated as Fade and Hook-Curl.
As for Green the Principles of Blue are as follows and serves to give a General overview:
Deep: Vertical breaking routes
Hook-Curl: In Routes
Fade: Out Routes
To go into more Detail about the Coverage:
- Cover the Deepest Route on your side
- Maintain Vertical and Horizontal Leverage. Remain the Deepest Man on your Side.
- In the Event that there is no Vertical Route sit at the bottom of the Zone and support the and Fade and Hook-Curl Player
- Reroute #1
- Cover the Outside Route
- Cover from Outside in and Maintain Outside Leverage
- Keep Shoulders parallel to LoS
- In the event that two Outside breaking Routes develop play Divider Rule
- Cover the Inside Route
- Aiming Point (10yds deep inside the Hashmarks)
- Read release from #2
- Wall all routes back outside, protect the Seams
- If there are no Inside Routes, stack back and gain depth reading the QB
The Green install covered not just the Formation but also the Fundamentals of our Running and Passing Games. Given that the Run Fits & Zone responsibilities are similar to Green, Blue does not require as intense an Install. It does however require Repetition. As I have stated above, if it hasn’t been repped with continued success then it does not belong on the Gridiron!