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Teaching Defensive Recognition in the Passing Game.

It all begins with a pre-snap read progression by every perimeter player

COACHES WHO WOULD like to take their program to the next level can often do so by developing their ability to pass the football on every down.

It is not that simple, of course. Your quarterbacks and perimeter people (receivers) must be able to efficiently pass and catch the football, plus:

1. Be trained in simple recognition skills.

2. The quarterback must be held accountable for "reading the buzz" (underneath Level I and II coverage and delivering the football on time).

3. All the receivers must be able to site-adjust to the base defenses they are preparing to attack.

Reading defensive coverage on the run sounds much more difficult than it is. The offensive line and protection package must be drilled as meticulously as any other element of your offense.

Coaching point: Always elevate the importance of your linemen. They are the keys to your offensive success. We believe the quarterbacks and perimeter players receive far too much credit for offensive team success.

The sequence for attacking defensive sets begins with a pre-snap read progression by every perimeter player from huddle, to set position, and ultimate snap count.

This progression is recommended as a method for teaching all the perimeter players a pre-snap read upon breaking the huddle on every play.

Look from left to right and back to the left to identify the base front.

Next, locate in order: (1) the free safety, (2) the strong safety or monster, and (3) the defensive alignment in the weak-side flat.

This defensive pre-snap read can be completed in a matter of seconds as the players prepare to move to their set positions.

Obviously, the defense can try to disguise its intent, but a quick snap count or motion can usually discourage this.

Coaches can teach defensive tendencies through various means such as the playbook, 7-on-7, classroom discussion, defensive recognition drills, and videotape.

The final defensive recognition (post-snap read) will take place during the players burst from the LOS. By their third step, they should be able to read zone or man coverage, as well as identify two-deep and three-deep coverage by the movement of the "key defender" and then the "underneath buzz." (Level 1 = underneath coverage; Level II = 12-16 yards). A coaching point for QB reads is Primary Key Buzz.

To enhance the players' confidence in reading coverage, we give them identifying characteristics (signals) to look for. A zone pre-snap read will usually have some or all of the following signals:

1. Intent of corners: An alignment on or slightly outside the split receiver with the chest and/or eyes facing the QB will indicate a Cover 3 if the FS is set in the middle.

2. Corners and strong safety with a 5-7 yard cushion usually indicate a Cover 3 if FS is set in the middle.

3. Corner alignment is tight and outside the split receiver, facing the QB, with two safeties deep. The pre-snap indication is a Cover 2 pre-snap zone look.

If the corners are aligned to funnel the outside receivers inside and settle into flats, the post-snap read will identify whether it is indeed a Cover 2 zone or if the corners are in a man-to-man coverage using a bail technique. If the corners run in a chase technique, it is a man-to-man.

If your pre-snap read indicates a corners alignment inside your split receivers, facing slightly away from the QB, the defense is in a man-to-man alignment. If they stay man, the corners will attempt to get inside leverage in a chase technique.

To attack the post-snap defensive read all of the perimeter players are expected to know how to attack the coverage (zone/man) within the framework of the offensive package.

Once the post-snap read is made, the light must go on in a hurry. If we read zone (defense dropping, heads on a swivel), we must automatically adjust to windows.

We attack seams or windows in the zone, create passing lanes, sit down on Level I-II underneath routes and come to the football! The design of your pass routes creates the seams with vertical as well as horizontal stretch routes for the opponents to defend. High/low, inside/outside routes will put defenders on an island.

If you read a "chase" technique or "man" coverage, the light must go on to "never settle, keep the defender running" -- creating leverage and separation. We adjust to man by making double cut moves and crossing routes whenever possible. We always teach awareness to the man free (or two free) in centerfield.

Additional reading techniques for the QB: He must pull the trigger and punch the football on time. Although it sounds much more difficult than it really has to be, a commitment of 7-on-7 practice segments, scout reports, and videotape study will help you achieve confidence and success at any level.

Teaching thoughts on recognition of post-snap defensive coverage:

1. Always look off the free safety or primary side Cover 2 safety immediately following the snap (a quick glance).

2. Identify the primary read (key) for the play called and defensive alignment and always read the defenders ("primary" key to underneath buzz).

3. "Zone" or "Man" -- throw on time. Solid QB technique will give you every opportunity to achieve success.

4. Since it is always easier to adjust to zone, make a habit of expecting man and adjusting to zone coverage.

Coach & QB

It is important to understand that as the QB advances to each new level of competition, the buzz (underneath coverage) gets much more difficult for the QB to handle.

As the QB gains confidence and experience in reading defenses at every level, he will become less and less intimidated by the underneath buzz, as it will appear to slow down.

The QB's ability to read coverage and deliver the football on time will impair or diminish the speed of the defensive package.

Keys to the accompanying diagrams:

Drill 1, 2-on-l slide drill, cones 5-7 yards apart:

DB and R slide from side to side. QB looks off DB and passes the football (with intensity) to R near a cone whenever a window opens.

Drill 2, open receiver drill: QB works on a 3-step or 5-step drop, looking off the FS first.

Diags. 3-4, basic pass routes that can be adjusted to all offensive packages by inserting motion, shift, or formation adjustments. They are easily adaptable to many sets.

Good basic defensive recognition (by perimeter players) will provide a tremendous advantage for the offensive package. It is imperative to start very basic and continue at a pace the players can handle. As they gain confidence, they will continue to achieve greater success.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:football
Author:Trickey, Jeff
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Words:1120
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