Attacking Zone Coverage
Attacking Zone coverage is not an easy task. Many coaches have had success doing it many different ways but in the long run it is a good idea to know what coverage the defense is in and where good places are to throw the ball against them.

There are several plays that are designed to be run against Man coverage as well as Zone coverage but most good man concepts have to be adjusted for the Zone. Some of the most lethal routes designed for man coverage involve running defenders from one area "off" and bringing receivers from other areas into the that vacated spot. We sometimes call this "Clear and Slash." Most coaches and quarterbacks are surprised to find outside linebackers sitting there waiting to jump your best Man routes when facing a zone.

Most everyone agrees that it is not hard at all to find the "Seams" (areas between defenders that are hard to cover) in a zone. One of the most demeaning things for a secondary is to practice skeleton zone drills against the offense without any time limit or rushing linemen. The QB can just simply pick the defense apart. However, things change when you put those four or five bullies up front and allow the LBs to start coming in from every direction. Now the QB not only has to find a safe area to throw the ball to but he has a severe time limit and may be running for his life.

With the kind of pressure that QB will see it is a very good idea if they have a knowledge of where the weak points in a secondary are prior to each play. We don't want to overload our QB with too much to do and remember so we want to simplify it for him as much as possible and let him concentrate on getting his job done.

Early in the season or in Spring Ball we go over some basic concepts of Zone Coverage and show him the areas to attack each type of coverage. We do this with our receivers as well.
Above is a typical 3 deep concept that we see a good deal of during the season. The defense can do many things from this look but if they all drop into their coverage areas it will look like this. You can see that we have inserted the holes and seams into the diagram. You can also see that the deeper you throw the ball the less likely you are to complete it and the higher the likely hood of an interception. One reason for this is the amount of time it takes the ball increases the farther it travels down the field. This does not mean that you can't throw deep routes but it does demonstrate to the QB that if he gets to much air under the ball or is off even a little in his accuracy the deep ball will get picked.

There are many holes in the short zone areas (five in all) but they are very small. To throw short you must make good quick decisions and you need to be precise.
You can see that an outside LB blitz can create a huge opportunity for a big completion. The OLB from the left created a huge hole in the defense. The question is are you and your team in a position to take advantage of it. You will see a blitz like this when you motion someone for a Jet Sweep look (motion blitz).
Because of the huge hole created when an OLB and same side LB blitz you will rarely see a same side blitz. It does occur but you are much more likely to see a blitz from the outside and the opposite side like the one below.

In this double blitz you can see that the pressure is going to be on the QB but now nice extra large holes have been created in the near zone. Plays that have quick simple reads over the middle or in the flats can really take advantage of this type of blitz. We call these types of plays Blitz Busters. They are specifically designed to take advantage of the blitz but we also have regular routes with "Blitz Check" that provide an easy "out" for out QB.
Xstreme Schemes vol. 2 concentrated on attacking man to man defenses. As we progressed into spread schemes that were bases primarily on the running game with a healthy dose of Play-Action and motion we saw less and less M2M coverage.
The Renegade Offense playbook is designed primarily for zone coverage. Most of the play-action included in that playbook will work with little to no adjustment for M2M coverage.

You can check out the Renegade Playbook by <clicking here>
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