Different coverages dictate different elements of press but in this case, we will focus on press coverage used in our Quarters Coverage and Man Free Concepts.
By Dan McKeown
Defensive Coordinator & Defensive Backs
Saginaw Valley State University (MI)
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Press coverage with cornerbacks is an advantage! Pressing with the CB’s gives us route elimination based on releases, instant re-routes, interruption of timing, the ability to put more defenders around the ball, and the fulfillment of a competitive DB’s nature. I’d like to identify that press isn’t a form of a physical bump and run method but rather the concept of disrupting WR’s while staying on top of their route for as long as possible. QBs and WRs will run their routes on air every day and develop timing together. Now let’s say they do it again, but I place a barrel in front of the WR. Their timing will already be different. Now imagine if this barrel moved to stay on top of the WR and cut his angles off! The timing they worked on is now off schedule, and that’s why press is an advantage. Different coverages dictate different elements of press but in this case, we will focus on press coverage used in our quarters and cover 1 concept. I’ll spend more time talking about the release part of the press because it's where common technique issues can be cleaned up.
A key component to press coverage: Continuous Movement
A couple of years ago I watched all the top CBs in the NFL and wanted to see what made them the best at their game. There were different styles of play but the one thing that showed up with all of them is they moved with efficiency. Moving with efficiency is to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible with the least amount of energy. A lot of words like fluid or smooth would describe what we call being efficient. All these top NFL CBs moved efficiently that allows them to obtain continuous movement. They took steps that continuously directed them to their intended direction without losing any speed. These elite DBs didn't take "gather" steps which I would define as an unnecessary extra step in between transitions. This was the difference from the elite to the rest. It showed up, especially in press coverage. From this, we developed how to obtain continuous movement in our DB’s. If we can move with efficient steps in press coverage, we feel we have the advantage.
Continuous Movement: Four factors based on biomechanics that work together to create an efficient movement. We call them the 4 C's of Continuous Movement
Circle: Staying within our frame. Our frame must be defined in a 360-degree manner. The width of our frame is our shoulders down to the floor. The front to back part of our frame is the length. To find the length you can stand on one leg and put your other foot behind the standing foot while keeping it flat (dorsi) on the ground. Take the width (side to side) and the length (front to back and drawing a circle around them. That is your frame. Our objective is to stay in our frame all the time.
Ceiling: It’s our foot height We want to keep our feet dorsiflexed while pedaling, scooting, and shuffling. This allows us to keep our feet under us and in our circle. Our foot height should be like a heart monitor in transitions. For example, when backpedaling and then opening the height on the monitor should all be the same. What I mean is the rhythms should all look the same until you get into a run. We will gather step when our rhythms are inconsistent. An example would be sliding our feet on grass then picking them up to transition.
Charge: The foot that’s in charge is the lead foot. The charge foot is the one guiding us. This foot has a little more weight distribution on it. The charge foot will constantly change in transitions. A transition= is the change in the "Charge" foot (the lead foot). Drill Clip 3 will show drills focusing on the charge foot.
Chain: Is the connecting of your charge foot, front shoulder (of the charge foot) and chin. This keeps our energy throughout our body efficient. In all transitions, these three things need to be aligned. In the diagram, you can see when a transition is smooth because his chain is connected. The DB on top has his chin disconnected from the chain.
We work on the 4 C's every day! Our footwork drills are made up of the 4 C's. Each day we work on what needs to be attended to and we find ways to focus on that area with as many reps as we can. These movements all show up in our press technique. Here’s some example of the footwork we do that all have the emphasis of the 4 C’s of continuous movement.
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- An explanation of the “3 Zones of Press Technique” and the unique skills needed build development in each of these areas.
- Why Coach McKeown teaches “sticking” rather than “jamming” wide receivers at the line of scrimmage to produce more power in the strike.
- How teaching a defensive backs “strike range” is vital to defending receivers at the line of scrimmage.
- Coaching points and drill film of the three movements that Coach McKeown uses to teach his defensive backs to defend releases.
- The drill work Coach McKeown uses to teach defensive backs top of route disruption techniques.
- Plus, game film of this concept.
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Press is an advantage with the right technique. In press or off man, the CB ends up in the same position with a WR 10 yards downfield. I believe it’s easier to dictate and own the route along the way! Continuous movement is essential for press technique because it keeps a DB on top of the WR. As for what to focus on in press technique it’s up to the coach to practice what’s important. A lot of people work in the third zone in press more than anything else. I believe if you work in the first zone the rest will become easier for the DB. I believe the release zone is like the roots of trees. The roots determine how the rest of the tree grows. We as DBs like to attack the roots and take down a forest full of route trees. #TheWorkingBreed
Meet Coach Dan McKeown: Coach McKeown serves as the Defensive Coordinator and DB coach at Saginaw Valley State University. He was previously the DC/DBs at Lawrence Tech University and DC/DB at Siena Heights University.