Thursday, March 4, 2021

Coaching the Rat in Cover 1

Here is a few coaching points we use for the rat in the hole when preparing the rat to cut crossers in Cover 1.

  • The hole player does not need to drop quickly. By sitting low the hole player is in a good position to collect a low crosser. If there is no crosser the hole player will drop into the hole. The hole player will be under all intermediate crossers. There is NO rush to get to the hole drop.
  • Keeping a head on a swivel is important to see the crosser. You cannot stare down the QB and see a crosser.
  • Communication is key. If there is no “cut” call there is no cut. The hole player must tell the man defender he is taking over the route. Man defenders stay in man until the cut and collect by the hole dropper.
  • Alerting man defenders where you are looking first is helpful for them to anticipate you will be cutting their man. An alert does not guarantee there will be a cut. The alert only tells the coverage players where the hole player will look to cut first. The call alerts the man coverage players and talks to his partner(s) in the funnel telling them where to look first.
Where to Alert?

We start with a camp rule.

Against 2x2 formation, look boundary first. Why? The low crosser running from boundary to the field is the bigger threat to catch and run going to all the open space. Also the boundary low crosser will get to the hole player faster than the low crosser from the field due to reduced split into the boundary.

Against 2x2 formation in the MOF, look to the side of the RB release 1st. Why? Many teams release the RB to the side of the low crosser.

Against 3x1 formation. Look strong first.

Against Empty look weak first. 

Be aware of any reduced split by a receiver. Look to the side of the reduced split first regardless of 2x2 or 3x1 or Empty. 

Be aware motion can change the situation. 

Game Planning the Cut

We will set the alert rules by game plan based on scouting report. Those rules may adjust by down & distance, formation, defensive call, etc.

No Cut – One consideration is to have a no cut rule. The hole player will drop to the hole and will not cut any low crossers. We use this on longer down and distances. On 3rd & 12 we may be looking to deny the intermediate crosser and force the ball low to break and tackle the route short of the sticks. We can also set a “no cut” rule on a specific receiver. In that case the hole player will not cut because we want to maintain our pre-snap man match-up and avoid asking the hole player to take over that receiver in coverage.

TE Only – Against some teams having the hole player cutting a WR may not be a realistic matchup. In a TE only rule the hole player will look to cut a Y on a crosser. If there is no crosser from the Y then drop to the hole. The hole is not free to cut any WR on a crosser.

TE first – Tendency may dictate the alert goes to the TE side. The hole player will look to cut a low crosser from the TE side first. Then scan opposite.

Slot First – Tendency may dictate the alert goes to WR aligned in the slot. The hole player will look to cut a low crosser from the slot first. Then scan opposite.

Reduced Splits – Tendency may dictate the alert goes to WR with a reduced split. The hole player will look to cut a low crosser from the side of the reduced split first. Then scan opposite. This can include being aware of bunch and stacked WR formations.

To a WR - Tendency may dictate the alert goes to a specific WR. The hole player will look to cut a low crosser from the side of the declared WR. Then scan opposite.

Flip Alignments - Which WR is on/off the ball may indicate where we want to alert by tipping where we should expect the low crosser. 

Strong/Weak/Field/Bench - Tendency may dictate the alert goes to the strong side or weak side of the formation or to the field or boundary.

By RB location - The RB alignment in may tip route combos and dictate where we want to alert. The RB location in gun, his depth, a cheated wide alignment, RB and TE paired/split etc. may be indicators for the alert. 

By formation – Specific formations may carry cut rules to alert to a specific place. Those cut rules may be specific to that formation only.

Short motion – Tendency may dictate a short motion rule. Teams may want a reduced split and use late short motion to get the WR on the run to a reduced split alignment. The man coverage player will alert the hole of the short motion. This is the only alert that comes from a man player and not hole player.

Alert side only - The hole player will cut to the side of the alert but will not scan and look to cut opposite, if there is no crosser from the alert side the hole player will work for depth to the hole. This allows the man coverage player opposite the side of the alert to play inside leverage man. This can make sense in some game plan situations. 

Hopefully this is helpful as you consider your Cover 1 rat in the hole rules. If there is something you do to help that player be sure to leave it in the comments.