Type of coverage: Two deep zone, five underneath zone
Strengths: Flat areas, Five underneath coverage, two deep coverage
Weaknesses: Deep middle, fade areas (between corner and safeties zones)
Indicators: The two safeties in the middle of the field are a quick indicator of a possible cover 2 scheme. The corners will use an outside alignment (leverage) on the corners to jam the receivers and force them to the inside. The weakside corner will usually be squatted tight to the receiver to better work the outside to inside jam. The quarterback will need to make a quick post snap read to determine if there is man coverage underneath or if the cover 2 turns into a rotating cover 3 (which we will discuss later), but there are several noticeable factors in place for a quarterback to narrow the possibilities down when given this look.
Other notes: The cover 2 is a hard coverage to disguise in terms of the safeties because the positioning is crucial. One of the safeties will occasionally lineup in a position closer to the line of scrimmage but will move back to his designated area just before the snap. The major variation is man coverage with the five underneath.
How to attack this coverage: Vertically stretching the defense meaning attacking a two layered defensive coverage with a three leveled pass pattern: Deep, medium and short (Figure 1).
The fade routes and corner route combined with an inside deep route (halfback or tight end fly up the middle of the coverage). The middle fly route will cheat the safeties inside giving the receiver on the corner route more separation from the deep safety (Figure 2).
If the defense has a deep or shallow drop underneath (how deep the play in their zones) delayed fly routes (shallow drop) or delayed drag/out routes (deep drop) from the tight ends are easy plays, as are four vertical routes to over load the deep zones (Figure 3).
A quick weakside slant or curl route can be effective as well. The tight end can do a lot of damage between the corner and safety area void. For example, the wide receiver runs a short hitch route (3 steps and turn) while the tight end runs a 10 yard post route to the left, which is directly between the short corner and deep safety over the top, yet beyond the zone of the strong side linebacker (Figure 4).
Tomorrow, the Cover-2 man-under.