I could just refer you to any number of articles on running Cover 3 that I have written before. But we want to keep this simple, so a bunch of links does not accomplish that. You can check out the Zone Coverages section on the Members page for tons of Cover 3 stuff.
For the 4-4 Defense to be quick to install, we need a simple but effective coverage. We will not be doing any pattern reading here.
I remember watching one of the old Coaches Choice videos – the one’s where it was just a coach in front of an overhead at a clinic somewhere – that focused on Cover 3. I do not remember who the coach was, but he was a major Division I coach, sometime in the early to mid-90′s. What sticks out is that he was against pattern reading. He did a study and found that most passes were being thrown on the hash or on the numbers.
The offense is running their routes to a spot. So why not spot drop?
It makes sense. You can come up with a million reasons and ways to combat the argument, but there it is. You have vulnerabilities in spot dropping. But if your team needs work on technique more than scheme, this is the way to go.
Spot Drop Cover 3
Cover 3 means that we have three defenders covering the three deep zones of the field. The corners are responsible for the area from the hash to the sidelines. The Free Safety patrols the middle of the field.
Align your corners 6-8 yards from the line of scrimmage, one yard inside leverage of the #1 Receiver. On the snap, they back pedal slowly reading the Quarterback’s release. This helps them break on quick passes to the flats. The flats are one of the most vulnerable areas of Cover 3, along with the seams (down the hash).
The Deep 1/3′s of the field extend from 14 yards depth all the way back to the back of the end zone.
After the 3-step drop, if the Quarterback has not released the football, Cover 3 receivers should speed up their back pedal and peek at the #1 receiver. They must stay deeper than the deepest player in their zone, so if a #2 receiver is running vertical in their zone, he needs to be deeper than him.