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Basic QB Reads Guide

Coverage’s by Sweatervest09 (Utopia) Reads by Hookemhorns (Utopia)

Cover 0
I. Theory
Cover zero is a full man coverage with no deep safety over the top, accompanied by a blitz from either the linebackers, corners, or safeties. Usually has 5 or 6 rushers.

II. Strengths
The strength of Cover 0 is that they are playing man on all backs and receivers, and can rush up to 6 players, utilizing dogs or twists to confuse the protection of the QB.

III. Weakness
The weakness of Cover 0 is that there is no deep safety to help on inside routes, and having linebackers man against faster slot receivers or running backs.

IV. Variations
A. Bump and Run – The corners will get up to the line against receivers to disrupt their routes and timing B. Press – The corners will play 3-4 yards off, in a bump and run look, to cause the quarter back to make a misread on the coverage.

V. Coaching Point
Most man coverage is well disguised, they will try to hide it by using shifts, or doing other things to distract you from your reads. The defenders will take an inside position to try to take away inside routes. Before the snap in this coverage the safeties will either slide up to cover a receiver or come up as a linebacker to blitz. One or two deep safeties.

VI. Read Keys
- Players showing blitz - A defender lined up across each of your eligible receivers - Linebackers coming out of the box to cover receivers.

Cover 1
I. Theory
Cover 1 is coverage where there is a free safety in the middle of the field, providing over the top coverage help on middle routes. The coverage could be accompanied by a blitz from the linebackers or defensive backs. Usually has 5 pass rushers

II. Strengths
The strength of cover one is playing man on all the backs on safeties, and having a free safety over the top to help on post routes. The defense also has the ability to bring more than 4 rushers on dogs, twists, and stunts.

III. Weakness
The weakness of Cover one is that linebackers are man on the running backs or slots.

IV. Variations
A. Bump and Run: The corners will get up to the line against receivers to disrupt their routes and timing B. Press: The corners will play 3-4 yards off, in a bump and run look, to cause the quarter back to make a misread on the coverage.

V. Coaching Point
There will only be one deep safety in this coverage, so if there are 2 deep safeties in the initial alignment, one of them should either align up to cover a receiver, or creep up for a blitz.

VI. Read Keys
- One deep safety - Pressed corners - Linebackers sliding out to cover slot receivers

Cover 2
I. Theory
Cover 2 is a zone coverage. It has 7 players playing in zones, the linebackers and cornerbacks take the underneath zones, and the two deep zones are occupied by the safeties. The corners will try to funnel the receivers inside, also applying a slight jam to allow players to get to their zones.

II. Strengths
It allows quick response to underneath routes, allows the defenders to stay square and towards the quarterback, making scramble less deadly.

III. Weakness
The deep middle and outside routes are open, and is subject to many route combinations aimed at one zone player. The gap between flat and hook player.

IV. Variations
A. Invert: The strong corner goes up to play a half while the strong safety plays the flat C. Tag: Underneath defenders play man on the receivers

V. Coaching Point
You want to throw in between the outside linebackers and corners, and then in between the two deep safeties for easy completions, don’t take too long and let the zone shift around, make your throws quick.

VI. Read Keys
- Free floating corners, not on any particular receiver - Two deep safeties - Uncovered slot receivers

Cover 3
I. Theory
Cover 3 is a zone coverage, it has 3 deep safeties and 4 underneath defenders, one of the corners will act as the 3rd deep safety, it can rotate to the strong or weak side safety based on the call.

II. Strengths
The strength of Cover 3 is that it has 3 deep safeties.

III. Weakness
The weakness is there are only 4 underneath defenders, leaving the quick series and weak side flat/hook curl zone exposed

IV. Variations
A. Cloud: The strong side corner plays as if in a cover 2 look, he jams, and takes the flat, and a linebacker/Defensive back slides over to play over the top. B. Tag: Underneath defenders play man on the receivers C. Bail: Strong side corner presses up, then sprints back to play a deep third.

V. Coaching Point
The quick game and short zones are left open, also, on the strong side, or where the corner has a deep third, fade routes are open if your receiver can beat the corner there.

VI. Read Keys
- One deep safety - Free floating corners - Uncovered slot receivers

S Hook M
Flat

Deep 1/3

F

C
Deep 1/3

Hook

P

C
Flat

C
Deep 1/3

E

N

T

E

QB

(NOTE: Dead center of the field, directly in front of the QB and in front of the deep safety is also open but not pictured. Don’t throw to the hash against Cover 3)

Cover 4
I. Theory
Cover 4 is a read zone coverage, where the defenders read the routes of the offensive players to determine the strong side roll (The backside roll is the corner, sprinting back, which puts him at a disadvantage, which is why they roll to the strength.)

II. Strengths
The strength of Cover 4 is having 4 deep safeties, also allows the safeties to be very active in run support.

III. Weakness
The weakness of Cover 4 is that the linebackers will be reading receivers, trying to cover backs, and drop into their zone.

IV. Variations
A. Bail: Corners press up at the snap, and bail back to their zone/assignment at the snap.

V. Coaching Point
Play action gives the linebackers problems in making their reads, throws off the roll and opens up the middle. Backside is vulnerable to a post/wheel route combination

VI. Read Keys

Deep 1/4

S

Short 1/4

F

S
Deep 1/4

Short 1/4

C

Deep 1/4

C

Short 1/4

M N

Deep 1/4

C

Short 1/4

C

E

E

QB

Hook Hook Flat

The Basic Quarterback Reads
• • • • • • • • • • The Slant Read The Stick Read The Inside Sideline Read The Curl Read The Sideline Read The Dig Read The Double Square-in Read The Deep Out Read The Deep Reads Man (Single Coverage Reads)

Pre-Snap Reads
• • • • • • • • • Look for the Safeties Is there anyone in the middle of the field? Look for the best side to read. Number of defenders vs. number of receivers. Look at the defenders leverage. Leverage refers to the defenders relationship to the receiver, or the area of the field the defender must cover. Know where all of the routes are going to be run. Look for possible blitzes. • Know where your hot routes are. At this point you should have a pretty good idea of where you are going to go with the ball this is extremely important.

During the Dropback
• • Realize you are making the final decision on where to go with the ball on your way back -not at the end of your drop. If you haven't made a decision by the time you get to the end of your drop, go to the contingency plan right away. • With the exception of a quick 3-step drop, take two steps up into the pocket max, before going to the contingency plan. • For example; you've made the decision on where to go with the ball and you're waiting for the receiver to break away from the defender.

The Slant Read
• • • • • Key the flat defender. OLB, Strong Safety, or CB Throw away from the flat defender. If he covers the slant, hit the flat/swing route. If he goes flat, hit the slant.

The Slant Drop
• • • The quarterback's specific drop is dependent on the flat defenders leverage. If the flat defender is close to the line of scrimmage, the drop will be deeper so the quarterback can throw behind him. If the flat defender is way off the line of scrimmage, the drop will be shallower so the quarterback can throw in front of him.

The Stick Read
• • • • • Key the strong safety or defender who will cover that area. Check pre-snap leverage. Look for the flat, then the stick. Many times looking at the flat route first will open up the stick route. Vs Cover 2, look to the strong-side fade first.

The Inside - Sideline Read
• • • • Key the strong safety or the defender who will cover that area. Check pre-snap leverage. Look for the swing, then the sideline. Many times looking at the swing route first will open up the sideline route.

The Curl Read
• • • • • Key flat defender. OLB, Strong Safety, or CB. Throw away from the flat defender. If he goes flat, hit the curl. If he drops to curl, hit the flat/swing route.

The Sideline Read
• • • • • Vs. Cover 2, change the sideline route into the fade route. Check corner and safety alignment. Check OLB/safety alignment. Key flat defender. If the flat defender can get underneath the route throw the stop or seam route.

The Dig Read
• • • • • Key the underneath coverage. While dropping back, take a look at what the linebackers are doing. If they drop, hit the drag. If they jump or wall the drag, go for the dig. Vs. Quarters coverage, the drag usually becomes the safest throw.

The Double Square-In Read
• • • Key outside linebacker to the strong safety. If LB takes the medium square-in route and SS takes the flat area, hit the deep square-in. If either LB or SS takes away the deep square-in, throw to the area they vacate.

The Deep Out Read
• • • • Great route vs. Cover 2. The flat route will hold the corner. If the corner runs with the WR, hit the flat route right away. If the corner comes off the WR, continue your drop and hit the WR on the Deep Out.

The Deep Reads
• • • • This is a timing pass. Realize that deep passes are not high percentage completions. Get a good idea where you have the best chance to go with the ball on your pre-snap read. If you are unsure where to go deep with the ball on your third step (of a five-step drop), let the ball go to an underneath receiver.

Four Verticals
• • • • Four Verticals vs. Cover 3. The inside seams are the first read. Hit the seams as they pass by the linebackers at about 15 yards. Throw away from safety coverage.

Incorporating more complex reads
Once you are comfortable with the fundamentals of reading zone coverages, the basic reads can now be incorporated into almost any number of more complex reads.

Man (Single Coverage) Leverage Reads
• • • • • • • • Where is the blitz coming from? Identify your hot route(s). What are the receiver routes? Think about possible safety help. What are the individual match-ups? Does a particular receiver have an advantage over his defender? Which receiver has leverage on his defender? Which defender is in a bad position to cover the called route.