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Detailed Explanation

Important things to know about the Man Zone Defense:


Two separate play executions embedded in one play call. Uses a Key to alert the defense to switch executions. Maintains consistent 1:1 Defender to WR ratio.

This is the basic play call. Like our other goal line play, we still keep 6 defenders in a line across the front of the goal line.

We always want to maintain position over the inside shoulder (towards the QB) of the WR across from you on the goal line. This helps prevent the quick slant that causes mismatches and flooding in the defense. Make sure you step up and take away the quick-in. Out patterns require the ball to be in the air longer, so you have more time to recover whereas if you release a WR on a quick-in they will likely cause mismatches in the defense on the other side of the field.

The first execution happens when a team uses a balanced or weak side flood attack. This is always the base call, and what is executed until the defensive audible is announced. The second execution happens as a result of the key and corresponding audible, and occurs when they flood the strong side.

The key is the Center! If he goes to the weak side, we follow our base call. If he goes to the strong side, we audible into our Flood defense. Theres one exception: If the Halfback (H) and Center immediately cross, the defensive captain may not call our defensive audible and instead will continue with man cover defense. Anyone can see what the Center does and can have an idea if the defensive audible is coming, but only the defensive captain can make the call, and until the call is made the defense plays man coverage.

If you draw a line through the middle of the field and counted the receivers youd see that we maintain balance of a 1:1 ratio regardless of their approach.

It important to maintain the ratio as teams rely more on confusion in a confined space than anything else to complete goal line passes. Just being next to someone at the goal line will make the QB want to look elsewhere, and if we keep a 1:1 ratio, there will be no where open to go and hell have to force it.

The Safety and MLB will crash on the C and H respectively, and will keep their bodies between the WR and the QB. The CB and OLBs will play Man Zone with the two outside most WRs on their sides. In this scenario everyone plays straight man coverage, and calls for a switch if their WR crosses or if they have to leave their WR for a more prevalent threat. Defenders call for a switch by yelling <Player Name> Switch!.

The boxes indicate the general zone area where two defenders will be playing Man Zone on the Weak Side during a flood to the strong side, or the strong side during a balanced set of route patterns.

Again if you draw lines on the weak side of a formation (both depicted above) you will see that we have a 1:1 Defender to WR ratio. In a Man Zone you have man-toman responsibilities with the WR in front of you until an audible is called, or the WR you are covering attempts to cause a flood to the far side of the field at which point it important to stick with them and maintain the ratio.

Crossing WRs need to have their coverage swapped on the fly by the defenders. This is where good chemistry and route pattern recognition come into play and offer great benefit. The CB will always try to cover the most outside WR, and the LB will always try to cover the 2nd most outside WR regardless of crisscrosses.

As soon as the possibility of a cross is removed the Defenders play full man coverage against their assigned WR. This may result in LB playing in front and/or outside of the CB, or vice versa.

Yes. The primary focus of this defense is to maintain a 1:1 Defender to WR ratio. If two WRs use staggered depths to isolate the defenders then in turn they are also isolating themselves and clearly distinguishing the coverage responsibilities. As a Defender, if you see your partner collapse on a short route in your man zone you must realize that you are going to have to stick with your man even if he crosses into the other defenders original space. As long as you commit to a WR, and blanket them, other defenders will assume coverage on other targets. When a defender is indecisive, other defenders around them can become confused.

Stick on the WR even outside the zone, and only when hes entering the zone of the other defenders should you peel off. Once you peel off, look for a WR crossing back into your original zone and resume man coverage.

The only difference is that if your WR crosses towards the middle of the field you have to follow them either entirely, or until you switch coverage on WRs with another Defender. On the Weak Side Man Zone, you have an area of the field covered by Zone Defense that you can corral a WR into. On the Strong Side Man Zone, there is no support in the middle of the field, and all Defenders on the opposite side of the field are already matched up with WRs 1:1.

Strong CBs: Play Zone Coverage dropping back with the outside most WR but continue drifting to the back of the Endzone. Dont give the QB anything to look at in the corner, and be ready to fire forward or back inside. You and the Strong LB will cover the two most outside WRs. Once he checks down the corner route option drift inside. Corner routes are more difficult to throw then anywhere else in the Endzone and once WRs start double and triple moves its important to support the front or back line respectively. Strong OLBs: Play Zone Coverage drifting out into the flats. Trust that youll have help in the space youre vacating, and know that you have help over top. Cover any quick out routes and stay in position to jump any pass to the Center in the flats. You and the Strong CB will cover the two most outside WRs. MLB: Drift to the zone the Strong LB just vacated and first take away any dump offs to the front of the goal line, but then make try to stick with the 2nd most inside WR while being wary of crosses from the other side. Know that after the 1st WR (likely H or Y) breaks back inside after Flood has been called, everyone to the weak side is 1:1 with a WR, and the next person to move toward the middle of the field and cross is your responsibility. S: If the Centers route goes to the Strong Side, audible the defense by yelling Flood!!!, and then play Zone Coverage to begin, but switch to man coverage on the inside most WR from the Strong Side. There are only two defenders to the weak side, so any WR from the strong side going to the weak side needs to be covered. Be aware of the backside cross and communicate to the weak side LB or CB (<NAME> Switch!), if you want to swap coverage on the crossing WRs. Return or stay in zone as appropriate.

6 Defenders line up in a row. They align to the inside shoulders of the WRs across from them mindful of the quick slant. They begin in Man Coverage, and stay in Man Coverage unless they hear Flood, to which they switch to the Man Zone Defense. While everyone can watch the Center for the Key, only the Defensive Captain is allowed to audible our execution. If an audible is called and Im the opposite side of the flood, I have Man Zone Coverage responsibilities with my fellow defender and we are matched 2vs2 with WRs on our side of the field. If an audible is called and Im on the side of the flood, I have to drop to my zone quickly and find a WR to cover. If each defender takes a single WR and blankets them outs of the play, the QB will be forced to throw into coverage or attempt to run.