Drop Back Passing Game

We begin the five step game by explaining to the Quarterback coverage's.  A normal rush is four defenders.  If there is 4 rushers and three deep defenders for the three deep zones - how many defenders are left for the underneath coverage?

That's right four.

 There are five underneath zones, which are right flat, right curl, hook, left curl and left flat. That leaves four underneath defenders for five underneath zones.  So offensively, we will put five receivers in each of the underneath zones (all hitches for example) and throw to the receiver that can't cover.  We know which one by looking at the weak side linebacker or middle backer in a 4-3 defense. If the weak side linebacker stays put or drops weak - then we have a 3 on 2 strong and throw strong.  If the weak side linebacker drops strong - then we throw weak where it is 2 on 1. Does this make sense? This type of coverage we also will call "soft coverage."

Now let's go 2 deep coverage. Again a normal rush is four defenders and if there is two deep defenders covering each half of the deep field then how many does that l leave for underneath coverage.  You are right again - five underneath defenders.  Now where are the holes or windows in this coverage?

Of course, the area in the middle behind the underneath coverage and between the two deep safeties and the area between the flat coverage and the fade area from the hash to the sideline.


How can you detect man coverage? We first look at the depth of the secondary coverage or deep coverage to see if it level or straight across at a depth of seven yards or so.  In zone coverage the secondary is usually in an umbrella type look.  Second we can look at the corners to see where they are aligned, if inside leverage and looking at the wide receivers not at the Quarterback.  Third,  we can look at the best located safety,  the safety right over the Quarterback's alignment to see if he is 7-8 yards over the number two receiver (the TE or Slot back), and eyeing that receiver up as he would if he has him man to man.

To recap, if there is a soft corner (the corner is five yards or more off the wide receiver) than we call that soft Zone coverage.  When it is soft coverage we know that there is four or less underneath defenders to cover the five underneath Zones.  If there is a hard corner or squat corner (the corner is less than five yards off the wide receiver) than we call that hard zone coverage.  When it is hard coverage we know that there are five underneath zone defenders for the five underneath zones.

Second item to explain to the Quarterbacks is passing is about time and distance.  The shorter the ball is in the air the less that can go wrong with the pass and the higher the probability of completion. Therefore, we want to throw the shorter balls more often and complete a higher percentage of our passers.  We should draw a diagram utilizing the grid to demonstrate the time and distance theory.  We should also demonstrate that the closer the Quarterback is to the receiver the less open he has to be in the pattern.


Third item to explain to the Quarterback is that we want him to throw to the correct receiver in the game.  We want to be able to watch the game film after the game and see that the Quarterback has thrown to the correct receiver 90% or more of the time.  We will train the Quarterback using the read drill as the basis of our training as well as teach him a standard system of progression of reads to utilize with our entire passing game.

Fourth item is the progression.  The Quarterback must go through this progression each pre-snap so it becomes habit. This will take discipline but if he will do it for 5 straight practices it will become habit.  All you will have to do after that is reinforce this habit with key phrases, like "why?" and “pre-snap?" and "what was your progression?"

The first part of the progression the Quarterback will do is walk to the line of scrimmage and check for a blitz look (which would also be man coverage). If he gets a blitz look, he will step away from the Line of scrimmage and yell "alert" "alert."  This will tell the entire offense that the Quarterback sees the defense in a blitz look.  It does not mean that there is positively a blitz coming - just be prepared.

The Quarterback will do this every play whether or not it is a pass play or run play does not matter.  This will help especially your offensive linemen who can't always see the defense in their stance and it is easier to teach your Quarterback what the defense is doing.

The second part of the progression is once he sees it’s a zone coverage is ask himself "is it soft?" or "is it Hard?" coverage?

This will tell him who can be the flat defender and who can be the curl defender.  It will also tell him which side to throw to in our three step package. 

The third part of the progression is once he sees its zone coverage to go through his read progression for the pass play called.  However, he will always start with look away for two steps on his 5 step drop or 1 step on his 3 step drop as the first part of his read in his progression.