You Vs The Coaches Box: Disguising Your Intentions
It's 2nd and 5 and the opposing offense is on it's own goal line. You know that in these situations, most offenses just wanna get their backs away from the endzone and eliminate any chance of a safety.
Second and short is a throw-away down, so there is a chance they might go a for a long ball, but its very unlikely.
Instead of sitting there trying to figure out what they might do, you decide to make them react to you.
Coach has called Cover 2, so you're supposed to be playing close, forcing the receiver to the inside, and then backing off into the flats. But you back off to seven yards, signaling the other cornerback to do the same, and tell him to still play Cover 2 but "show" off man.
The quarterback sees this and immediately begins to audible the play. He's taken the bait. They desperately want to get their backs out of the endzone. The quick hitch is coming.
He snaps the ball. You read him. Quick three-step drop for him, quick two read steps for you. As soon as the ball leaves his hand, he knows the mistake he just made.
You've already begun your drive toward the ball. The receiver tries to reach for it, but it's too late. You pick the ball off and walk easily into the endzone.
Perfectly played. Why? Because, not only did you beat the offense on the field, but you also beat the coaches in the sky box.
Keep Them Guessing
As I said in the Reading Offenses section, football is a lot like chess: a match of wits; and not only between you and the other players, but also between you and the other coaches.
You want to keep them guessing by disguising your coverages never letting them get a bead on what you're gonna do.
I'm gonna cover how you can use your Cornerback I.Q. to keep the opposing team guessing; the players and the coaches' box.
In most games of wit, winning means staying at least two steps ahead of your opponent and disguising your intentions.
Football is no different.
I already explained what you can do stay ahead of the other team, so now I'm gonna tell you how to conceal your intentions, by:
- disguising your coverages
- and disguising your blitzes.
Disguising Your Coverages
Mix It Up
Unless it's already pretty obvious to the other team, you should never let them know what coverage you're in.
If you are in man coverage, for example, you can fake Cover 2 by playing outside leverage about 5-7yds off the receiver. Then you can time the snap and come up and press (inside leverage) at the last minute.
Vice versa, you can be in Cover 2 (see coverages), show off-man, and then press from the outside at the last minute.
Don't Fall Into A Pattern
Regardless of what the coverage is, make sure the offense never can get a sense of what you're doing. Don't fall into a pattern, because that's what coaches and quarterbacks look for.
Then they use those patterns to pick you apart.
Disguising your coverages also has another advantage: it makes it hard for opposing teams studying your film to determine what your defensive schemes are by how you line up.
It's hard to plan for a team when you don't even know what they're doing on film.
Don't Mix Yourself Up
When in the flow of disguising your coverages and playing with the other teams heads, please don't forget what your assignment is.
That only does two things: makes you look lost, and decreases the confidence your coach has in you to play smart.
Both are bad.
So, as a Great Cornerback, make sure you remember your assignment and are competent and confident with what you're doing.
Disguising Your Blitzes
Blitzing from the cornerback spot is a very sneaky, but fun thing to do in football... if you do it right. If you don't, you will get picked up by a 300-pound lineman, and that's not the business.
How you disguise your blitz is dependent on two things: your alignment, and how you time the snap count (if you use the snap count at all). If you don't use the snap count, you can just watch to ball to time your blitz.
Your alignment depends on where your receiver lines up, because you want to sell it to the offense that you're in coverage.
If your receiver is lined up inside, close to the box, you can come up and pretend that you're pressing, and then attack the backfield at the snap.
If your receiver lines up way outside, the blitz may be called off. If not, you want to creep up along the line of scrimmage.
Don't just do it whenever, though. You want to be as close as possible when the ball snaps without giving yourself away, but you have to time it right. That's where the snap count comes in.
Timing The Snap
When timing the snap, its best to start creeping closer after the QB goes through his checks.
Before every snap, you'll see the QB check the defense to try to get a read into what coverage they're in, especially if its a pass play.
When he finishes and begins his cadence, you should start to creep closer, along the line of scrimmage.
Faking the Blitz
You can also reverse this by selling the blitz, and then dropping back into coverage.
Sometimes, if a quarterback sees you blitzing, he'll "hot check" to your receiver for what he thinks is an easy completion. When you drop back, it's easy pickings.
I recommend you only do this in zone coverage, unless you're certain you can get back on top of your receiver and lock up.
Remember to keep them guessing. If your opponent is always trying to guess at your intentions, then you can dictate the pace and outcome of the game.
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