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.