It was recently pointed out to me (and not for the first time) that I did not include much information on defending Trips Formations in my eBook, Coaching Football’s 4-2-5 Defense. It is also apparent to me, that I have been neglecting the 4-2-5 Defense lately! So let’s take a look at defending Trips Formations with the 4-2-5 Defense.
Basics of Coverage in the 4-2-5 Defense
The 4-2-5 Defense is an 8-Man Front defense, with no 2-gap players. Cover 3 is the base coverage, a single-high safety coverage that is great against the run and adequate for stopping the pass.
The two overhang safeties or Outside Linebackers, which we call the Weak Safety and Strong Safety, are almost always going to be your box players (responsible for contain). This simplicity and consistency means you can spend more of your practice time on fundamentals.
Keeping things simple also means your players can play fast, which is a key to victory. Confused defenders – thinking defenders – are going to move slowly, react slowly, and have limited success. We want simple assignments and fast, aggressive players.
Adjusting Cover 3 to Trips
When the offense gives you a Trips formation, the Cover 3 easily adjusts to a Quarter-Quarter-Half Coverage. Lots of coaches have lots of numbers for this, none of which are universal. I have heard it called Cover 6, Cover 8, and other names. I consider it to simply be an adjustment to Cover 3.
In the secondary, our Trips Side corner will play a deep Quarter, and the Free Safety will roll over to a position outside of the Offensive Tackle on the Trips side. He will play the other Quarter deep zone on the Trips side.
To the single receiver side, the Corner is responsible for the Deep Half of the field. Many coaches will simply play him in man coverage on the single receiver. With an athletic safety, I like playing him as the deep player. With the Weak Safety dropping underneath to the single receiver, we get more help on him.
4 Underneath Cover Zones against Trips
Against a Trips formation, the underneath cover zones have to adjust as well. Normally, we have one player in the Hook-Curl zone and one player in the Flat zone.
In this case, on the single receiver side we only have 1 receiver, with a corner over him. The Running Back may release, but he is not an immediate threat. His routes will most likely be limited to flares and check downs (though not always, and this is a game plan issue). Therefore, our Weak Safety will drop Hook-Curl-Flat. This means he is going to drop with eyes on the back, getting outside of him. If he does not release, he looks up #1 and gets underneath the route if he can – Posts, Slants, and Curls will come right into his area.
On the Trips side, the Strong Safety is the flat dropper. He aligns splitting the #2 and #3 receivers and works from the #2 Receiver to #1. The Inside Linebacker on the Trips Side drops on the #2 Receiver and walls an inside release. The Linebacker away from the trips drops to the hook zone and eyes up #3 or any crossing receivers that are coming to him.
The zones do not change versus Trips Closed (a Tight end on the single receiver side) or Trey (a Tight end on the Trips side) formations. Three receivers, to the secondary, is three receivers. While the alignment of the underneath defenders may change, they do not change their coverage responsibilities.
Interested in learning more about the 4-2-5 Defense? Get Coaching Football’s 4-2-5 Defense today for immediate download!