One defensive technique that has gained popularity in all defensive schemes in football is press coverage.
Press coverage involves a defensive player physically engaging with an offensive player at the line of scrimmage, disrupting their route and timing.
This technique can be highly effective in limiting the effectiveness of the passing game and forcing the offense into unfavorable situations.
Here we explore the details of press coverage in football, its benefits, and how it is executed.
The Basics of Press Coverage
Instead of giving the receiver a cushion of space, the defender lines up directly in front of the receiver, making physical contact at the line of scrimmage.
The goal is to impede the receiver’s release off the line, throw off their route, and disrupt the timing between the quarterback and receiver.
Press coverage requires a combination of physicality, technique, and football IQ.
The defender must have the strength and agility to engage with the receiver while maintaining balance and control.
Additionally, they must possess the knowledge to read the offensive formation, anticipate routes, and react quickly to the receiver’s movements.
Benefits of Press Coverage
Press coverage offers several advantages for the defense:
- Disruption of Timing: By physically engaging with the receiver at the line of scrimmage, press coverage disrupts the timing between the quarterback and receiver. This can lead to mistimed throws, incompletions, or interceptions.
- Route Alteration: Press coverage allows the defender to alter the receiver’s intended route. By redirecting the receiver’s path, the defender can force them into less favorable areas of the field or disrupt the timing of the play.
- Physicality: Press coverage requires physicality from the defender, making it difficult for the receiver to gain separation. This can limit the effectiveness of the passing game and force the offense to rely more on the running game.
- Confusion and Disguise: Press coverage can confuse the offense by disguising the defensive scheme. By lining up in press coverage, the defense can give the illusion of man-to-man coverage while actually executing a zone defense.
Executing Press Coverage
Executing press coverage effectively requires a combination of technique, athleticism, and situational awareness.
Here are the key steps involved:
- Stance and Alignment: The defender must align themselves in a position that allows them to engage with the receiver effectively. This involves positioning their feet shoulder-width apart, with their weight evenly distributed.
- Hand Placement: The defender must use their hands to disrupt the receiver’s release off the line of scrimmage. This can involve jamming the receiver’s chest or shoulder pads, redirecting their path, and throwing off their timing.
- Footwork: Proper footwork is crucial in press coverage. The defender must have quick and precise footwork to mirror the receiver’s movements and maintain balance. This involves shuffling, backpedaling, and using lateral movements to stay in position.
- Reading the Receiver: The defender must read the receiver’s body language and anticipate their route. This allows them to react quickly and disrupt the timing of the play.
- Recovery Techniques: If the receiver successfully releases off the line of scrimmage, the defender must have recovery techniques to regain position and disrupt the route. This can involve using speed, agility, and leverage to catch up to the receiver and make a play on the ball.
Different Types of Press Coverage in Football
Press coverage in football refers to a style of defense where a cornerback or safety lines up directly across from a receiver at the line of scrimmage, with the intention of disrupting the receiver’s route at the snap of the ball.
Here are a few different types of press coverage:
Man Press Coverage
This type of coverage involves the defensive back playing directly in front of the offensive receiver.
The defensive back will attempt to impede the receiver’s route at the snap, preventing a clean release and disrupting the timing of the play.
The defensive back then follows the receiver wherever they go on the field.
This is also sometimes referred to as “bump-and-run” coverage.
Zone Press Coverage
This is similar to man press coverage in that the defensive back will try to disrupt the receiver’s route at the snap.
However, instead of following the receiver across the field, the defensive back will drop back into a specific zone of the field and cover any receivers that come into that zone.
In this press coverage, the defender attempts to use a strong, physical jam at the line of scrimmage to disrupt the receiver’s route.
The goal is to delay the receiver long enough to disrupt the timing of the offensive play and allow the pass rush to get to the quarterback.
While not technically a “press” coverage, as it doesn’t involve contact at the line of scrimmage, it’s worth mentioning.
In off-man coverage, the defensive back lines up a few yards off the line of scrimmage and keeps the receiver in front of them.
This can allow the defensive back more time to react to the receiver’s route but does not disrupt the timing of the offensive play in the same way that true press coverages do.
A press coverage strategy where the defender mirrors the footwork of the receiver at the line of scrimmage to disrupt the initial part of the route.
Once the route is underway, the defender typically follows the receiver in man-to-man coverage.
Soft Press Coverage
This is a variant of press coverage where the cornerback lines up close to the line of scrimmage, but instead of making contact with the receiver, they retreat at the snap of the ball, looking to disrupt the timing of the receiver’s route with their positioning rather than with physical contact.
As the name suggests, the cornerback uses both hands to impede the receiver’s progress at the line of scrimmage.
This technique can significantly disrupt the timing between the quarterback and the receiver, though it requires excellent timing and strength on the cornerback’s part.
The effectiveness of each type of press coverage will depend on various factors, including the skill and physical attributes of both the defensive back and the receiver, the style of the offense, the specific play being run, and the game situation.
Different scenarios may call for different types of press coverage.
Types Of PRESS COVERAGE & How To Beat Them
Case Studies: Successful Implementation of Press Coverage
Several teams and players have successfully utilized press coverage as a defensive technique.
Let’s examine a few notable examples:
Seattle Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom”
The Seattle Seahawks’ defense, famously known as the “Legion of Boom,” implemented press coverage as a cornerstone of their defensive strategy.
Led by cornerback Richard Sherman, the Seahawks’ aggressive press coverage disrupted opposing offenses and played a significant role in their success.
Sherman, known for his physicality and football IQ, excelled in press coverage.
His ability to disrupt routes and limit the effectiveness of opposing receivers made him one of the league’s premier cornerbacks.
The Seahawks’ success with press coverage showcased its effectiveness when executed with precision and skill.
Stephon Gilmore’s Defensive Player of the Year Season
In 2019, cornerback Stephon Gilmore of the New England Patriots won the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award.
Gilmore’s exceptional performance was largely attributed to his mastery of press coverage.
Gilmore’s ability to shadow receivers, disrupt routes, and make plays on the ball showcased the impact of press coverage on a game.
His success demonstrated how a skilled cornerback can neutralize even the most talented receivers through physicality and technique.
3 BIG Mistakes You Are Making in Press Coverage
FAQ: Press Coverage as a Defensive Technique
1. What is the purpose of press coverage in American football?
Press coverage is used to disrupt the timing and rhythm of the opposing team’s passing game.
It aims to impede the receiver’s release off the line, throw off their route, and disrupt the timing between the quarterback and receiver.
2. Which defensive players typically execute press coverage?
Press coverage is primarily executed by cornerbacks and safeties.
These players possess the necessary speed, agility, and physicality to engage with receivers at the line of scrimmage.
3. How does press coverage disrupt the offense?
Press coverage disrupts the offense by throwing off the timing between the quarterback and receiver.
It can lead to mistimed throws, incompletions, or interceptions. Additionally, it can alter the receiver’s intended route and force them into less favorable areas of the field.
4. Can press coverage be used against any type of receiver?
Press coverage can be effective against a wide range of receivers.
However, it may be more challenging to execute against smaller, quicker receivers who excel at creating separation.
In such cases, defenders must rely on their technique and football IQ to neutralize the receiver’s strengths.
5. Are there any risks associated with press coverage?
While press coverage can be highly effective, it also carries some risks.
If the defender fails to engage with the receiver effectively, it can result in the receiver gaining quick separation and creating big plays.
Additionally, if the defense is unable to generate sufficient pressure on the quarterback, press coverage can leave the secondary vulnerable to deep passes.
6. Can press coverage be combined with other defensive strategies?
By disguising the defensive scheme, the defense can confuse the offense and create opportunities for turnovers.
7. How can a defender recover if the receiver successfully releases off the line of scrimmage?
If the receiver successfully releases off the line of scrimmage, the defender must have recovery techniques to regain position and disrupt the route.
This can involve using speed, agility, and leverage to catch up to the receiver and make a play on the ball.
8. Is press coverage more effective against the run or the pass?
Press coverage is primarily used to limit the effectiveness of the passing game.
By disrupting the timing and rhythm of the offense, it can force the offense to rely more on the running game.
However, press coverage can also be effective against short passes and screen plays.
9. How can a defender improve their press coverage skills?
Improving press coverage skills requires a combination of practice, film study, and physical conditioning.
Defenders should focus on developing their technique, footwork, and hand placement.
Additionally, studying opponents’ tendencies and understanding offensive formations can provide valuable insights for executing press coverage effectively.
10. Can press coverage be used in all game situations?
Press coverage can be used in various game situations, depending on the defensive strategy and the strengths of the defensive players.
It is commonly employed in situations where disrupting the passing game is a priority, such as on third downs or in the red zone.
Press coverage is a defensive technique in American football that involves physically engaging with an offensive player at the line of scrimmage.
It disrupts the timing and rhythm of the opposing team’s passing game, forcing the offense into unfavorable situations.
Press coverage offers benefits such as disruption of timing, route alteration, physicality, and confusion.
Executing press coverage requires proper stance and alignment, hand placement, footwork, reading the receiver, and recovery techniques.
Successful implementation of press coverage can be seen in teams like the Seattle Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” and players like Stephon Gilmore.
However, press coverage carries risks and must be executed with precision.
By understanding the fundamentals and strategies of press coverage, defenders can effectively neutralize the passing game and contribute to their team’s success.