The Cover 2 is one of the most common defenses run in football at any level, so it is important to know how to attack it from the offensive side of the ball. In one of my previous posts, I went over how the Cover 2 works. In this post, I’m going to highlight a few different route combinations that are very effective against a Cover 2.
For starters, let’s just look at what the coverage looks like.
As you can see immediately, there’s not any coverage over the deep middle, and there’s not much coverage on the sideline in the intermediate (10-15 yard) range. So now let’s look at some route combinations to attack those areas.
The first one is a post fade combination.
You can see this route combo makes it where the 2 deep safeties have to try and cover 3 WR’s. That makes the job easy for the quarterback, he just has to make the safeties choose who to cover and throw to the open man. If they try to get over the top of the fade routes he can hit the post. If one of them tries to take the post route he can hit the open fade route.
His other option is the inside WR on the left side on that hitch route. Once the receiver cuts back, he needs to slide into the hole in the zone to create a passing window. If they are running a Tampa style cover 2 then one of those inside defenders will be dropping back deep and that will create a bigger window for that hitch.
Something to realize, if he throws the post route, he can’t float the ball up there. He has to put enough on it so that the safeties don’t have time to get there. If he throws the fade, he can put some air under it and put it out in front, or if the safety is way over the top, the receiver can settle near the sideline and he can throw more of a line drive back shoulder type throw.
You can run this with just the two fades and post if you want, instead of the 4th WR, you can have another back in the back field to block. Also, you can have the post come from the TE position instead of the slot if you want more of a power run look.
Let’s take a look at another route combination.
This is sort of a flood concept. You have the fade-corner, with the RB coming out into the flats. You also have a backside deep crossing route. The idea here is that the fade route is pushing the safety deep, and the RB in the flats is pulling the corner up, and there’s no way that curl zone defender (probably an OLB) will be able to cover the corner route. So in theory, the quarterback should be able to drop right over that OLB to the corner route.
Alternatively, the safety could try to jump the corner route leaving the fade open, or the corner back could try to drop back to cover the corner route leaving the RB open in the flats.
The last option is the deep crossing route from the backside. This is something that I wouldn’t tell the quarterback to look for until you have already ran it, and seen that the backside safety didn’t cover it very well.
And you might’ve noticed that on my offense in the diagram I only have 10 players. You’ve got several options, you could throw a TE in there to help block, or have him run a little hitch over the middle trying to find a hole. Or you could put another back on the other side of the quarterback to help block.
You could run this concept out of trips, but I don’t think very many defensive coordinators would stay in a Cover 2 against trips. On the other hand, it’s also a pretty good play against a Cover 3.
I also want to mention that it’s important to try to get a feel for what the defense is doing pre-snap. Cover 2 is pretty easy to recognize before the snap. The corners will be up close normally, and there will be two high safeties. They could be in a man coverage out of that same look, but the key is the safeties, see if they are lined up over the top of receivers or not. How deep are they lined up? The farther they are from the LOS, the less likely that it’s a man coverage. Just to emphasize though, pre-snap reads are just to get an idea, the defense could easily shift into a different coverage at the snap.
So there are two route combinations to attack the Cover 2. I’m sure you can think of plenty more. Just think about what the Cover 2 defense is trying to take away and what it is allowing. Again, you can check out my post about running the Cover 2 to get a better understanding of it. Also remember, there’s no unstoppable play, it’s about calling the right play at the right time.