Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I am a big fan of using trick plays. They keep the defense off balance and can really punish a team for being too aggressive or even too passive. The play below is a good trick play to use before halftime or the end of a game when the defense is in prevent.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Been real busy, I am publishing this incomplete I will add that information into part III.

In Part I, I discussed the 2 main types of brackets: Under/Over and In/Out. I finished up that discussion with a breakdown of the Nick Saban's Cone coverage. In this section I will get into two different ways of bracketing the slot receiver and discuss the run/pass technique of the people involved in bracket coverage.
I previously stated the main benefits to bracket coverage

1. Ability to coverage a good WR

2. Ability to leverage underneath and vertical routes

3. Involve simple and solid run support rules.

#3 might be one the most important concepts when it comes to bracketing. When it comes to man coverage of WR's, it takes 5 men to cover the 5 eligible men at a minimum. This leaves 6 men dedicated to playing the run. When you bracket, 6 men are put into coverage, leaving only 5 to play the run. The offensive concept that has become standard (for 10 personnel spread teams) is to run the ball versus 5 in the box. So if you are going to play the run effectively in bracket coverage, then you are going to need solid and simple rules for getting another player involved in run plays.

The great part about bracket coverage is that it is easy to do that. The starting point is to keep players out of run/pass conflicts. What is the usual indicator of a run in the shotgun? It is the mesh of the QB and running back. It is this action that can put players in conflict. Is it a run or play pass? If a player can't tell, then he is gonna be stuck in concrete not doing anything productive on the field. When it comes to run/pass issues, you need to have clear rules to keep players out of conflicts. Here are some examples and rules for eliminating this dilemma.


Just like "Cone" DUECE puts the #2 Slot WR in an in/out bracket. The techniques for playing inside and outside breaks are identical to CONE. The major difference between the two coverages is the involvement of run/pass responsibilities.

The "IN" players is the person responsible for run overlap. If the ball meshes with the QB and back, this player must play run first. The FS in this coverage would be the person responsible for the play action pass to the slot WR. The Nickle player would come off later once he has cleared the run. Versus a typical bubble screen off play action, the assignments would look like this.

This is not ideal for this coverage, but these rules need to be in place to eliminate the Nickle back from being in a run/pass conflict. Versus a simple run:

Another problem route with this coverage is the Play-Action pass to the slot on a slant. It is an easy pass to complete given that the fake gets the nickle player out of the way. However, this is not a major concern. By alignment the offense will be wary of attacking the D with a slant by the #2 WR. Also, with proper stemming this look can appear to be a 1/2's, man under, quarters, or even an outside bracket look.


Bracket is an in/out slot bracket like DUECE, the major difference is that the nickle and FS switch responsibilities. These alignments are similar to robber coverage, and basic pre-stem middle field zone coverage (cover 3).

Versus a basic run the overlap and play-pass assignments look like this.

Mixing the looks is key. This game of mixing up the overlap players will cause problems for the whole offense. The linemen will have problems figuring out which player will be overlapping into the run-fit, and the QB will be confused as to what coverage the defense is in.

Friday, October 1, 2010


This is the first of a 3-Part series. This series is about the basics behind bracketing and the two main types that are usually employed. Part II will expand on some different variations and explain the run support principals. Finally, Part III will cover some read brackets that resemble match-up zone.


Bracket coverage is designed to create double coverage on a single receiver. There are multiple types of brackets and various reasons to use them. The starting point for bracket coverage is to begin with its place in football.

The two main coverage families in football are zone and man. Between these two families are many voids that coaches have attempted to and are still in the process of filling. The major attempt by many coaches has been seen in the evolution of match up-zone and pattern reading. The other attempt has been bracket coverage. To better understand its place consider the pros and cons of man and zone coverage.


+Close coverage
+Disrupts timing
+eliminates throwing lanes

-Personnel mismatches
-Receivers can run off Defenders on run plays
-vulnerable to the deep ball
-Weak versus the option


+Good for run and pass situations
+Protects against the deep ball
+Able to read the QB and break on the ball

-QB has many throwing windows
- Offenses will attack over stressed flat defenders
- You are either weak vertically or underneath.

In zone you are going to have holes in the short/intermediate or deep zones, you cannot eliminate all areas. In man you are gonna match-up problems and have trouble covering routes run away from the defenders man leverage. (ie. Inside man versus the 10 and out.) Also, a route that creates problems for both man and zone coverages is the 10-15 yard bend-in (Dig). These routes create problems that need solutions, while at the same time keeping the defense as a whole sound versus the run. Bracket coverage has the ability to defend these problem routes, eliminate mismatches, and remain sound versus the run.

The Positives to Bracket Coverage

1. Ability to double cover a good WR (eliminate mismatch)
2. Ability to leverage underneath and deep routes effectively.
3. Can involve simple and solid run support rules.


There are two types of bracket coverage concepts:

1. Under/Over (Vertical Bracket)
2. In/Out (Horizontal Bracket)


I have discussed examples of under and over brackets in a previous post. Essentially One person is in a trail technique covering any underneath break (inside and outside), with another person over the top providing deep support. Here a couple examples:

These are called vertical brackets Because the WR is sandwiched over and under. One man will stay low and in front while the other stays high and behind. The strength in this type of bracket is the ability to stay under any route without having to worry about getting beat deep.


In/out brackets provide horizontal leverage on a WR. One defender will cover him inside and up the other will work and outside and up. This type of coverage is easy to disguise and can be employed on any receiver. To illustrate this coverage, I will use some of Nick Saban's calls for in/out coverage and some key coaching points.

If Coach Saban wants to double the #1 WR in and out with a corner and he safety he will call "CONE".

Versus a vertical route by the WR, both players essentially cover him inside and out eliminating any mismatch.

The technique of each player is crucial. If the WR runs an inside cut, the "IN" defender must play the route aggressively and take it away. In this situation the "OUT" defender would work over the top of the route and provide deep support for the "IN" defender.

If the WR breaks outside the roles would reverse. With the "OUT" defender aggressively covering the WR while the "IN" defender works to provide over the top support.

The over the top leveraging on a horizontal break is the key to allowing the other defender to play aggressive. This makes the double move routes not a concern.

In part II I will cover slot,TE, and RB brackets in addition to discussing the run play in this type of coverage.