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Football 101: Basics of Cover 2

Cover 2 gets its name because of the position of the safeties

Published: Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014 7:00 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014 11:42 a.m. CDT

This is part of the Northwest Herald and McHenryCountySports.com's "Football 101" series. Our staff talked with area coaches and players, who helped us break down the basics of the game.

Cover 2 gets its name because of the position of the safeties, who both play deep zone coverage. In front of the safeties are five players — the linebackers and the cornerbacks — covering underneath.

With seven players in coverage, four players rush the quarterback.

In a base 4-3 defense, which features four defensive linemen and three linebackers, the linebackers' first responsibility is to stop the run. Once linebackers realize the offense is attempting to pass, they drop into their zones. 

The middle linebacker (M) is responsible for covering the middle of the field, anywhere from 8-12 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The weak- (W) and strong-side (S) linebackers drop to the hash marks, looking for receivers running curl routes.

Cornerbacks (C), who play closest to the sideline, jam the receiver across from them, re-routing him towards the inside of the field. By aligning outside of the receiver and jamming the receiver to the inside of the field, the cornerback puts his teammates at linebackers and safeties in better position to help.

The cornerback, after disrupting the receiver across from him, settles into the flat, an area stretching from the last man on the line of scrimmage to the sideline and about eight yards deep.

With the the area in front of them covered, the two safeties (S) split the field in half and are responsible for the deep portion of the field.

If a receiver is not re-routed, the safety, who's responsible for covering deep routes on one half of the field, has a more difficult time covering the deep route. In the clip below, the cornerback allows Huntley senior wide receiver Josh Esikiel to run straight up the field without a jam. This puts the safety in a difficult position. By the time the safety sees that Esikiel is behind the corner, he doesn't the time to run to the spot and make a play on the ball. The pass is complete for a first down.

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