How To Play Press Coverage

In Defense, Football Content, Football IQby vIQtoryLeave a Comment

Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you’ll notice the corners playing about a yard away from the wide receiver. This is known as press coverage.

Defensive Back Press Coverage

Press coverage, otherwise known as bump and run coverage, is a type of coverage that’s often played by aggressive teams.

Press coverage was designed to disrupt the route and the timing of the receiver, in hopes the pass rush can get to the quarterback before he throws it.

To fully understand press coverage, let’s take a look at the earliest form of press coverage. From the NFL Operations Manual

Even though some fans think that rules changes always favor the offense, it’s not true. Many restrictions affect blocking techniques and other offensive tactics. As was noted in a 2012 Competition Committee report, the 1978 illegal contact rule “simply restored the traditional relationship between the receiver and the defender.

Defenders ran with receivers without contact until the 1960s, when they began using the “bump and run” technique to move receivers off their routes. That technique took advantage of an anomaly in the offensive and defensive pass interference rules: A nonblocking receiver couldn’t initiate contact with the defender from the time the ball was snapped, but the defender could initiate contact anytime before the pass was thrown.

With the illegal contact rule, beyond 5 yards downfield “the defender has the same obligation to avoid contact with the receiver as the receiver has to avoid contact with the defender,” the committee said. “We have never viewed that as favoring the offense.”

Enter the “Mel Blount Rule”

The Mel Blount rule is the regulation put in place to make sure there is no contact after 5 yards. This is strictly an NFL rule that was made famous, named after physical Pittsburgh Steelers Corner Mel Blount.
(Watch on Youtube)

Mel was notoriously know for putting receivers on the ground or out of bounds. This forced the competition committee to install the “no contact after 5 yards” rule, known today as the Mel Blount Rule.

Coaches have since adapted to different style of press coverage:

No Contact – Mirror Technique

press coverage
via coachdicko on youtube

This technique is most common in the NFL due to the speed and quickness of the WR’s.

Corners are often shuffling away from the play, giving ground and anticipating a WR cut. The key to this coverage is to ensure your shoulders stay square as long as possible

Defensive backs get into trouble when they’re too quick to jump out on a receiver’s first move, and they end up getting their hips flipped around.

Past corners such as Deion Sanders and Darrelle Revis were great, mainly because of their discipline to stay on the hip of receivers… on top of having tremendous ball and cover skills!

1-Hand Jam

press coverage
via coachdicko on youtube

We often see this press technique in college as it’s safer than the 2 hand jam.

It allows the defensive back to keep hips square and balanced if the wide receiver knocks it away.

One problem with the 1 hand jam, is defensive backs often don’t move their feet when they jam. In the video above, the corner does a great job in jamming with one hand, however he’s back on his heels.

A good receiver will use the space he gathers to stack back up and gain vertical leverage.  

2-Hand Jam

The 2 hand jam is a high risk high reward type jam.

The high risk comes from shooting two hands at the wide receiver. If the defensive back is not discipline by keeping his hips square to the defender, the wide receiver can easily gain vertical leverage

2 key points that are extremely important when playing a jam coverage:

  • Contact Point
  • Footwork
press coverage
via coachdicko on youtube

In the first clip, the defensive back gets a great jam on the receiver with two hands and continues to ride him up the sideline. He does a great job sliding his feet and staying square which allows him to get on the back hip and place himself between the ball and the quarterback.

He may have passed the footwork test, however the contact point isn’t great. His head dips forward slightly when he makes the initial punch. This means his body weight is leaning forward.

When a defensive back is leaning forward, it makes it easier for the wide receiver to wash their arms away and get vertical.

press coverage
via coachdicko on youtube

The second clip is a little different. The corner makes decent contact and maintains body control. The only issue is, his body and leverage is too far up field – therefore the receiver undercuts him and he has no chance.

He’s off balance as he transitions up field mainly because his first 2 initial hop steps. When he turns his hips and gets into his transition, his feet are together. This forces his next step to be an over-stride, which puts him off balance. The receiver times it up perfectly and washes him away at this exact moment.

Other Styles of Press Coverage

Press coverage has been innovated from not just man coverage, but also zone coverage. Teams are pressing in all types of coverages, including:

  • Cover 2
  • Press/Bail Cover 3
  • Press/Bail Cover 4

Cover 2 press allows the corner to be physical with the wide receiver at the line of scrimmage, and still be able to bail into the flats.

Press/Bail Cover 3/4 allow corners to be physical at the line, with the intention to bailing to the deep third or fourth. This gives athletic corners the advantage as their able to be physical, but still have the proper footwork to cover any vertical routes.

This is also a common bluff for the defensive backs, tricking the quarterback into thinking they have the receiver on an outside go route, when really the defensive back is bailing to it

What type of press coverage do you play? Do you have a different style of teaching it? If so we’d love to hear about it in the comment section below!

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