11 Robber Coverage As a Change Up

Old School Robber Coverage

Today we are going to talk about old school Robber coverage as a change up to your base coverage concepts.  When we say old school "Robber" coverage I don't mean the Robber coverage you hear about today where the Corners are deep half players and the FS is a Robber player off the release of the #2 WR.  We are talking about Robber players that will be run players first and then become low hole and high hole rat or robber players vs pass. This is actually the way Robber coverage was first taught to me in the early 90's.  Mickey Andrews and Florida State were having a lot of success playing it at the time, with outstanding defensive lineman and great cover corners.  It was actually their defensive base at the time if I remember correctly from clinic notes that I took from a clinic in the late 90's.  It was really good vs. 21 personnel because they would put the Sam LB on the TE and play their end in a wide 9 flying off the ball up the field in a "Jet" technique.  This helped turn all runs back inside and really helped with pass rush.

Shades of the "46" defense
There are two different reasons I wanted to use this style of Robber coverage as a change up.  The first reason is all about the coverage.  When people know you are a split field coverage, pattern match team, you will see a lot of "coverage beaters" in the passing game.  You will also see a lot of run pass option(RPO) stuff.  I wanted to have an answer for these things that wasn't always pressures or movements.  The thought of tighter man coverage to help vs the "beaters" and "RPO'S" was very intriguing, but usually came at the expense of pressure.  Pressure becomes a "BAND" scenario which generally means one school's band will be playing after that play, ours or yours!!! I love using pressure but do not want that to be my only answer.  11 Robber gives us tight man coverage with a low hole player to help vs screens, draws, and QB scrambles and a high hole player to help the over the top throws.  It also allows us to stay with our base 4 man front principles so there is no new teaching other than widening a defensive end.  The run fits are not exactly the same but they are real close and we have 2 safeties to help clean them up vs 21 personnel.  Run fits are the most important part of a defense in my opinion, but that topic is at least a Blog of it's own.  The second reason I like the 11 Robber stuff is it gives my front a slight change up.  Although not exactly like the old fashioned "46" or Bear front, the vice player on the tight end with the defensive end coming from real wide gives a similar feel.  As a standard even, over front team, we need some subtle changes to our front to protect it a little.  We move and stunt a whole bunch, but in general we need some other looks to make the offense prepare a little more.  The ability to play odd and even fronts is the best answer, but when trying to keep things simple you may not get to all that.  This is a nice wrinkle that helps on the front end and back end.

The coverage portion is basically a man under scheme.  The Corner's will play press man on the #1 WR'S, the SS will play man on #2 and vice(press) vs a Tight End.  The Mike and Will are man to man on the remaining backs while the FS and WS are the Robber players.  This will give us the 9 man box we want vs 21 personnel teams.  Because we are playing man we can afford to be aggressive with the Robber Safeties.  They do not have vertical routes by themselves so play action does not hurt them as much.  The WS is the adjuster vs. 1 back sets.  Quick history lesson, the "46" defense was named after Doug Plank who did most of the adjusting for the original "46" under Buddy Ryan.  He wore jersey #46 and that is how Ryan named the defense. The WS for us will adjust to all one back sets and play man on a receiver or Tight End.  This leaves the Mike and Will bracketing the single back with one of them becoming the low hole rat or robber.

I hope you can watch the video and adapt this concept into your defense if you are a split field pattern match team.  It is just a wrinkle for us but really helps protect our defense vs some of the things schemed up to beat us.  We will use it more as our kids gain a better understanding of what our defense is all about.


Simple Dime Package


Today we are going to take a look at adding a simple Dime package to your defense to help defend 3rd down situations and spread teams.  We are a 425 defense so we are technically a Nickel package already.  Adding another DB gives you more speed on the field and the ability to cover tighter.  At the High School and Junior High level the key is keeping your coverages simple and consistent.  A lot of times at the college and NFL level they will have specific schemes set for nickel or dime packages to take away the route combinations they will see.  They have more time to work on their substitution packages and more meeting time to go over the coverage adjustments they want to make. Its important for us to have a lot of carryover when we add a package or change a look so we keep things the same when we add a DB into our package.

The way we will generate confusion for the offense is by going to a Base 50 or Okie Front in our Dime Package.  That is different from our base even front and gives the offensive line and offensive coordinator another thing to work on, which affects their practice plan and practice time.  This way we are causing some confusion up front while keeping our back end coverages the same, in essence making the offense play slower while we try to play fast.  We will always have one wrinkle in our coverage scheme for longer yardage situations but we would like to play our base coverages as much as possible.  The way we accomplish this is by adding a second free safety in the game while removing a defensive lineman.  Now we have the ability to play any of our base coverages to either side of the formation.

50 Slant and Angle
We basically will become a 50 Slant and Angle defense much like the great defenses under Bo Schembechler.  We will always slant strong in our Dime Package, bringing the Down Safety from the side with the least receivers with the 3 defensive lineman creating a 4 man rush.  The safety that is rushing must make a call to the defensive line giving them their direction to slant.  Now we can play our base coverages behind that depending upon the formations we see.  If we see a 2x1 formation we will play Quarters strong side and Cov 2 sky or cloud weak.  If we see a 2x2 formation we will play 2 Read to each side bringing the down safety that is on the same side as the Will LB.  That allows the Will LB to walk out and be the Apex player to a 2 removed receiver which is how we play it in base defense.  If the offense gives us a 3x1 formation we play our standard trips checks because we have an extra FS in the game giving us the ability to play trips to either side without changing strength.  We will add simple zone pressures from both sides and a zero pressure to keep the offense honest.  We always want to have the ability to pressure from any package we run.  The zero pressure is really good because you have all DBS covering the 5 eligibles which makes for good match ups, and allows you to bring an outside LB in the pressure with the 2 ILBS.

If you are interested in our base coverage concepts I have an Ebook out on Kindle called Split Field Coverages.  It gives a good brief introduction into how we declare our coverages using split field principles.  Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed it.