Steelers All-22: Cover 2 Man

Back at it for another All-22 breakdown, examining some noteworthy plays from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2014 season.

Today, we’ll look at a simple concept and the consequences when just one player makes a mistake in that scheme. If you’ve ever played Madden, it’s surely a defense you’ve employed. The Steelers’ Cover 2 man against the New York Jets.

To begin, we’ll draw it up on the board.


In the secondary, the cornerbacks will be playing trail technique. Man coverage but playing to the receiver’s inside help, defending any breaking routes with safety help over the top to defend vertical. Strong safety Will Allen will drop down closer to the line of scrimmage initially before bailing, making it a little difficult for the quarterback to read coverage, which always starts with the safeties. Hard to tell if you’re getting single high or a split safety look pre-snap.

Both outside linebackers will drop into coverage, playing curl-flat. The Mack linebacker drops as the hole player in the middle of the field while the Buck will blitz the “B” gap. Let’s show it on the field.



The Jets nearly max protect, keeping seven into block, meaning it’s only a three man route. But it’s the playaction they utilize that creates space. The fake sucks up the inside linebackers. This creates initial space behind them.



Compounding the problem, Sean Spence tries to bump the releasing fullback and winds up sliding too far horizontally and not enough vertically to get depth and act as the hole player.


Eric Decker creates a bit of separation on his dig route and without the hole player to discourage the throw, Michael Vick has a large window.


Pass is complete for a first down.

The issue here is with discipline. Linebackers getting fooled on playaction is going to happen, they’re taught to read run first, but after realizing it’s a pass, Spence must do a better job of recovering and gaining depth. He doesn’t and quarterbacks are always going to take advantage of a blown assignment.

This is Spence, not Ryan Shazier, but the same will apply to the second-year player, expected to be the starter in 2015. He too is going to have to play fundamental above-the-shoulders football. 4.4 speed means nothing if you get so far out of position.

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