Tampa 2 coverage is a popular coverage in football. It allows teams to space out the field and protect against short, intermediate, and deep throws.
Tampa 2 coverage is a variation of cover two that relies on the middle linebacker to cover any deep routes that run through the middle of the field. This coverage was made popular by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which is where it gets the name Tampa 2.
In this article, we will show you what Tampa 2 coverage is and how it differs from traditional cover 2 in football.
Cover 2 In Football
Before we teach you about Tampa 2 in football, you must first learn what cover 2 is in football.
Cover 2 is when the defense has 5 players covering underneath zones and 2 players covering deep zones. As it says in the name, the number represents how many deep defenders there are.
Cover 2 is mainly used by defenses to stop short and intermediate throws. This coverage has 5 players who space the field evenly from 0-7 yards.
The zones that are covered when playing cover 2 are:
- Left Flat
- Left Hook/Curl
- Middle Hole
- Right Hook/Curl
- Right Flat
The 2 deep players are responsible for splitting the field in half. This means that each player will have their perspective part of the field.
The fact that there are only two deep players brings a vulnerability to the deep part of the defense. This is where the Tampa 2 variation helps support the deep half of the field.
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Tampa 2 Coverage
In 1996, Tony Dungy was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The NFL was starting to evolve into a pass-heavy league. To properly defend against the pass, teams must cover all 53.3 yards of the field.
Coach Dungy realized that teams were attacking the middle of the field in his cover 2 defense. Additionally, balls caught directly in the middle of the field were limited.
Teams running cover 2 were wasting a player in the middle hole, as most of the throws were happening 3-5 yards behind him.
To counter this, Coach Dungy created his variation of cover 2, called Tampa 2.
Tampa 2 has the same rules as cover 2. However, it relies on the middle linebacker (also called the Mike backer) to carry any deep routes through the middle of the field.
Mike Linebacker In Tampa 2 Coverage
The middle linebacker or the ‘Mike’ linebacker plays a crucial role in the Tampa 2 scheme.
This player needs to be athletic to play the run and run with slot receivers who are trying to disrupt the middle of the field.
Tony Dungy’s Tampa 2 system was so effective because it featured a talented linebacker named Derrick Brooks.
Brooks was able to stop any runs that came his way, but he could also cover receivers who tried to run deep in the middle of the field.
The Tampa 2 defense requires this type of player to disrupt any routes thrown in the middle of the field. Teams who try to run the Tampa 2 but don’t have an athletic Mike linebacker will often get exposed.
Tampa 2 Linebacker Drop
The drop from the linebacker in the Tampa 2 scheme is important. The term we like to teach is a “tempo drop.”
This means the middle linebacker will only sprint through the middle of the field if a receiver is threatening him.
If there is no receiver running through the middle of the field, there is no need to run as fast as they can through the middle of the field.
The term “tempo drop” requires the linebacker to drop to the middle of the field while keeping their head on a “swivel.” As they are dropping, they should actively look left and right for receivers coming into their zone.
If no receivers are entering their deep middle zone, they can slow their drop and look to rob a receiver that’s running over the middle.
The Tampa 2 coverage is well-balanced, allowing teams to be even in the run fits and spaced out proportionality to defend the passing game.
If you enjoyed learning about Tampa 2, check out these other coverages.
What versions of cover 2 do you run? What are your thoughts on Tampa 2? Let us know in the comment section below.
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