Cowboys Cover 3 (Excerpt from 'Nuts & Bolts')

Many associate Rod Marinelli with the Tampa 2, but that isn't the base coverage the Cowboys use in their defensive backfield. Here, Joey Ickes breaks down the coverage the Cowboys employ most, in an excerpt from his E-book, "Nuts And Bolts: A Guide to the Schemes of the 2015 Dallas Cowboys".

Note: This article is an excerpt from, “Nuts and Bolts: A guide to the Schemes of the 2015 Cowboys” an E-Book written by me, available now on Amazon. “Nuts and Bolts” is your ticket to becoming the smartest Cowboys fan in ANY room you set foot in this year, All of the Whats, Hows, and Whys are covered and it's just in time for the 2015 season. $4.99 is all it takes to get your copy right on your favorite reading device, click RIGHT HERE to order NOW!


While the Cowboys have made major investments to add personnel to the roster who are capable of playing man coverage well in all situations. Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli has traditionally preferred zone coverages as opposed to the alternative. Some of this can be traced back to his stint with Monte Kiffin, and Tony Dungy on the great defensive staff in Tampa Bay, and some can certainly be traced to his emphasis on creating takeaways at every opportunity. In zone coverage, because the defenders are facing towards the quarterback, rather than chasing receivers with their backs to the ball, they should have more opportunities to react to what they see, jump routes and make plays on the ball when it is in the air, or come down hill and deliver blows to receivers that could dislodge the ball, as they make catches, or run after the catch.

COVER 3

Cover 3 is a 3 deep, 4 under zone coverage, with the middle of the field closed by the free safety playing the deep middle. This coverage will feature a Sky force in most situations, and allows a team to get eight men in the box pre-snap, without over exposing the defense.

Coaching Points

  • CBs – Line up in press or off with outside leverage. Play a zone technique (back to the sideline), and drop to the deep third of the field. Stay over the top of vertical routes, and squeeze the post. Primary objective is to stay on top of the go route, and force the ball underneath. If in Press, Vertical routes, or outside releases essentially become man coverage.
  • FS – Work to middle third of the field and get depth (18 yards or more). Stay on top of vertical routes, with enough depth to split two seam routes, or to get to the outside edge of the numbers on the field against a go route to the outside. Primary objective is to protect the seam and the post.
  • SS , NB – Curl-flat responsibility. Read run/pass key (tight end, open side tackle), and get some depth (about 10 yards) in the “curl” area to protect the quick throw up the seam, or to an inside curl. Then work outside to the flats. Can NOT get out leveraged to the outside in the flats, and has to run with a wheel route by the running back or inside receiver, as the CB will be squeezing the post. These are the contain players vs the run.
  • LBs – Hook-Curl responsibility. Read run/pass key (three interior OL) and sink into the zone just outside the hash marks. Have to be deep enough to sit under the dig, and squeeze the seam, while maintaining the ability to drive downhill against a shallow cross or check down.

Note: This article is an excerpt from, “Nuts and Bolts: A guide to the Schemes of the 2015 Cowboys” an E-Book written by me, available now on Amazon. “Nuts and Bolts” is your ticket to becoming the smartest Cowboys fan in ANY room you set foot in this year, All of the Whats, Hows, and Whys are covered and it's just in time for the 2015 season. $4.99 is all it takes to get your copy right on your favorite reading device, click RIGHT HERE to order NOW!



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