Sunday, April 18, 2010

Seam Drop

The "Seam" drop I am referring to is technique of the player who is dropping over the #2 receiver in a 3 under 3 deep fire zone coverage. I have also heard this drop called Scif, Bronco, and Deuce. Regardless of the name, the execution of this technique has a direct correlation to the effectiveness of a team's fire zone pressure package.
The following is a breakdown of the Seam drop that is explained in Dick Lebeau's playbook from the 2002 Cincinnati Bengals. To begin Lebeau defines Seam on page 20 of the .pdf in the Secondary Coverage Terms section of the playbook as "Outside in technique on #2. Must carry vertically or to the flat. (Fire Zone Term)". Later Lebeau gives 3 coaching points for the seam drop in the Fire Zone Coverage Rules section of the playbook on page 144 of the .pdf.

  3. ALWAYS COME OFF ON #3 RECEIVER CROSSING YOUR FACE TO FLAT                                        
Fire Zone coverage shares many similarities with man free. The Seam player is outside in and expecting help on shorter inside routes from the 3 Receiver Hook and deep middle help from the middle 1/3 safety. Because the Seam player is carrying #2 vertical it allows the corner to play the #1 receiver tighter.

           ENABLES CORNERS TO GET TIGHTER ON #1 RECEIVER (Alert Stack or Slash Release)

Based on the rules and diagrams in the playbook here is my analysis of the seam technique.
If #2 releases immediately inside, the Seam(SM) player will carry and deliver the crosser to the next color (3RH or opposite SM player). The Seam player must be aware of the level of the next threat represented in the diagram above as the vertical dashed line. The SM cannot cross that level to avoid being out leveraged by #3. If #3 is staying in to block, the next threat to the SM is coming on a crossing route from the other side of the formation.
The same concept is utilized for the Slash release.
A slash release occurs when #1 and #2 are in a close proximity split alignment and the #1 receiver releases immediately underneath. The SM player will treat the fast crosser (#1) just like #2 on a fast crosser. The SM will carry and deliver with understanding of the level of #3. The corner will squeeze to the #2 receiver's vertical route on the slash release. The corner and seam player are reminded in multiple places in the playbook to be alert for the slash release based on the formation or crack motion by the #1 receiver.

The Slash/Flat combo is handled by the SM player carrying the #1 receiver inside before reacting to #3 to the flat. The #1 receiver on the quick crosser will be taken by the 3RH dropper who is looking for something coming back in when #3 goes out. 
If #2 is vertical the SM will carry the vertical until a receiver attempts to cross his face from the inside out. The #2 receiver could attempt to cross the SM players face on an out cut in which case the SM will be in good body position to defend that out cut. If the #3 receiver is going to the flat the SM must come off #2's vertical and cover the #3 receiver to the flat. If the #3 is aligned in a trips formation the SM player needs to be alert to a higher probability of being out leveraged by #3 and be prepared to come off #2 vertical. It is unlikely that a crosser from the other side of the formation will be able to get across quickly enough to out leverage the SM player but it is possible and the SM player would need to come off on the crosser.
If #2 is out the SM player stays over the top of the route and runs through the window of #1's route before driving on #2 to the flat. The SM player has #2 on the wheel because the corner is playing aggressively on #1.

The SM player is responsible to drive on any 3 step or hot throw to the #2 receiver.


  1. The SCIF (Seam-Curl-Flat) technique plays the seam threat from inside out... re-routing with the outside hand, making sure to keep the inside hand free (this keeps the shoulders relatively parallel to the LOS and keeps the player's eyes on the QB). The SCIF tech relies on the man to read #2. If #2 goes vertical in the seam he carries to 14yds before releasing to deep coverage players. If #2 doesn't threaten the seam, then the SCIF players plays through to the curl zone, and then to the flat.

  2. That is one of the topics of debates about fire zone technique. Is it a seam (outside in) or a scif (inside out)? Both have positives and negatives. The drop on #2 is critical to the coverage being effective but which one is better? We utilize the Scif drop you discribed in our FZ coverage. I just wanted to look at the technique Coach Lebeau is using. Maybe I should do a compare contrast on the 2 different thought processes.

  3. either way, i still enjoy your posts. I was just making sure SCIF was recognized as different from the Lebeau technique

  4. I get confused on the SCIF tech. In other posts I think it is described as saying that the SCIF player will reroute #2 and expand to the curl if he is vertical. I also assume that the CB is going to read #2, and if he is vertical then he will play the divider. So for ex on hitch/seam or smash the CB is leaving #1. The SCIF player must then expand to this route? The comment above has the SCIF carrying #2 up to 14yds, which to me would make it impossible to expand out to #1. Also, how SCIF is done vs. a tight alignment by #2, for example a TE to the field? Playing inside out would give a lot of space out to the curl. Maybe an idea would be to use a dividing line (such as 5y outside the hash). If #2 is inside that line, CB and 2S player use the Lebeau "seam" tech. If #2 is outside that line, CB and 2S player use the "SCIF" tech. Thoughts?

  5. Tracey,
    You are correct in that when you play a SCIF technique player you need to have the corner read 2-1 and play a divider agaist 2 vertical threats because the SCIF player will not carry the vertical by #2. We tell our SCIF guy to have hands on #2 eyes on #1 when re-routing in the seam. If #1 is stopping his route (smash concept) you need to expand. If #1 is continuing vertical you can hang on #2. Your question about SCIF or SEAM vs. a tight split #2 is why I am starting to like the SEAM concept because the coverage is the same regardless of the alignment of #2. I don't like the idea of 2 different drops by the players dropping on #2 because of the teaching time involved. Great questions.

  6. Thanks for your response, I didn't see it until now. I guess the difficult thing for me with the SEAM concept is that if we have an end or inside LB dropping to the SEAM, I can't see how they can match all the outside routes as described by the SEAM tech. Further, it makes sense to me that if #2 has width beyond a certain point, the SCIF becomes more useful because now #2 is farther away from your inside help.

  7. Wouldn't the collision technique used on a seam route depend on a spot drop or pattern read by the flat defender?

  8. This is great information, thanks’ for share!

  9. seam dropper play outside-in my issue is the skinny post which is always a c3 beater.playing it inside out would that more protected for middle safety and if you have 2 verticals you can get outside help from corner> what your thoughts

    1. Seam technique is designed to be played with a corner who is in a tight 1/3 playing aggressively on the #1 WR. The corner is not playing a deep zone looking to midpoint 2 verticals. So having the Seam player work inside out doesn't really work with the corner technique.

      The Seam player is squeezing #2 inside to the 3RH dropper or the MOF safety. We play seam technique and the skinny post has never been an issue. Our seam players collision outside in and carry the vertical. The MOF safety breaks on the throw and we have a 2 on 1 coverage against the route.

  10. We have sort of combined the 2 techniques. Split field coverage team im only talking read side tech by the SS...We play outside lev of #2 and funnel them to the middle using a catch tech .... we still play a smash/China call by sinking the CBS and having the overhang bust ass out there.... if 2 has got our hips inside because we collision and carry the vertical then upon hearing a smash call we speed turn off like a sling shot. Only thing that's tough is the slant window to #2 usually a bang bang play ... if 2 is vertical you must get a collision MUST GET A COLLISION before running to a smash call