Bracket Coverage Concepts and Techniques

Feb 23, 2015 | Defense, Coverage, Split Field Coverage Structures

By Jason Brown 
Defensive Coordinator 
Dutchtown High School (LA)


dutchtownThe importance of a workable 3rd down defensive package cannot be overstated. If you play good defense on first and second down and you can get an offense in a third and medium to long situation, you must be able to get off the field a majority of the time. We have found that our 3rd down package gives us a good chance to get our defense off the field and to give our offense a chance to score points.

Our 3rd down package has been developed over twenty-plus years and we are constantly tweaking it to make it simpler and more effective. The result is a nice clean package that we install in the summer months, work on during Pass Skeleton / 7 on 7 leagues, and then carry it through the season. During the season, this package is focused on every Tuesday. This time and commitment gives us the utmost confidence that we need to win on 3rd down when the games arrive.

On the early downs, our philosophy with the back of our defense is to maintain zone eyes. This allows us to better swarm the ball. When it gets to third down, especially in the third and medium area, we adjust into more of a man concept to deny the ball. Nothing is more frustrating for a coordinator than to get an offense to third and 4-7 yards and the offense runs a flood concept or horizontal stretches a zone defender and first down! If you work that hard to get to the down, you should have the necessary tools to win the down.

Defensively we are multiple in our personnel packages and in our mode of attack. For this report, we will mostly be dealing with our sub packages, which are listed and shown below:

Nickel: 4 lineman, 2 linebackers, 5 Defensive backs (Diagram 1)
Dime: 4 lineman, 1 linebacker, 6 defensive backs (Diagram 1)
Dollar: 3 lineman, 2 linebackers, 6 defensive backs (Diagram 2)
Cash: 3 lineman, 1 linebacker, 7 defensive backs (Diagram 3)


Basic Cover-Down Rules for Sub Personnel:

Star: Cover down on number 2 to the passing strength. If we are in man to man, he must bring the Money over if three receivers. This is an automatic “Coin” alignment. He must establish the strong side with a “Lucky” or “Ringo” call.

Money/Don: Cover down on number 2 away from the passing strength, unless “coin” is called aligning him to the three receiver side.

Mac: Cover down on number 3 receiver to the passing strength. If the Money “Coins,” he will then cover the # 2 receiver away.

Buck in Dollar Package: If in the package, he will align away from the Mac.
Strong Safety: He aligns to the strong side.

Weak Safety: He aligns to the weak side.

Middle Safety in Cash Package: If in the package, he will align in the middle third as a starting point.

Corners: They will be designated as left and right. Sometimes we will assign a corner to a certain side of the formation depending on receiver distribution, field-boundary, etc.