By Whittier Christian DC Pete Karavedas
“Cover 2” is a widely used pass coverage at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. Most of the time, Cover 2 is applied with either a 4-3 or 3-4 front, but it is possible to run this coverage from other fronts as well.
This coverage is great for defending teams with a good underneath passing game, because it neutralizes a lot of the shorter routes. The “2” refers to a 2 deep look, meaning the both safeties will have deep responsibilities on their half of the field.
There are multiple ways to implement this coverage, but the traditional method starts with the technique of the two cornerbacks. The CB’s usually play outside of their WR, and they will “funnel” the WR inside by being physical at the line of scrimmage. This “re-route” makes it easier for the safeties to protect their deep half. Traditionally, after the CB has funneled his WR inside, he will “squat” or “settle” in the flat area.
If the WR stays in the CB’s, zone he will stay on him, but if the WR proceeds across the field or up field, the CB will release him and look for an inside receiver coming into his zone. If nothing shows in his zone, the CB will get depth to help his safety with deep routes. This is also a good way to get CB’s involved in the run game because they do not have deep responsibilities and they can provide outside run support.
The safeties have the deep responsibilities, they are reading the inside receiver to the outside receiver, searching for the “vertical route”, which just means something deep like a post, corner, or streak. Each safety must be sure that no WR gets behind him on his half of the field. The linebackers are responsible for the underneath zones (middle, and the hook/curl areas), and the corners will take care of the flat, so the safeties can concentrate on the vertical routes.
Perhaps the most important part of the cover 2 is a good pass rush. If the offense runs 4 vertical routes, the cover 2 might struggle because they only have 2 deep safeties. This is why it is important that the front 7 are able to generate pressure on the QB so that those vertical routes do not develop.
Pete Karavedas is a graduate of Azusa Pacific University and in his third year as the Whittier Christian Defensive Coordinator.