2nd & Long with Robert Johnson: How to beat Cover 2

Football is more than just running around and hitting people, there is a very large amount of strategy involved. In past articles, I have explained the fundamentals of some very basic football plays used around the world. But what good is having great plays if you don’t know WHEN to use them?!? Football teams have many different ways to decide on their play selections, so I would be foolish to think I could tell anyone the best way, or even the most common method. Instead, I have teamed up with a Mike Leach Air Raid disciple who has made a name for himself in Europe as both a player and coach, Robert Hart Johnson. I will give Robert a situation with predetermined factors. He will then proceed to explain how to run a successful offensive play in the situation. I have written down his answers, but he does his best work explaining on the chalkboard, like most football coaches.

Robert Johnson is one of the most accomplished American Football players in Europe. He is the winner of 5 Finnish Championships, 2 Vahteraliiga MVP Awards, 1 IFAF Champions League Title, and a member of Touchdown Europe’s Hall of Fame. Robert currently plays Quarterback and serves as the Head Coach for the Helsinki Wolverines in the Finnish League 1st Division.

2nd & 7

Offense: Shotgun 2×2 Formation

Defense: 4-3 Formation, Cover 2

Play: Georgia (Trap)/ Shakes (Corners)

Play Explanation

If we are on our side of the field, I would run Georgia (Trap) because we have 5 guys in the box. With the pulling guard taking care of the mike linebacker, we can gain a minimum of 5 yards. This will set us up for a 3rd & 2, so we can call any quick game or an easy RPO (Run/Pass Option).


If we are on our opponent’s side of the field, I would be more aggressive in my play call. I would run Shakes (Burst Corners).  The outside receivers will run burst corners to activate the safeties. Our fast inside receiver will run a middle seam against the mike linebacker. Then we will have the runningback run an angle route to the middle of the field. If the Mike linebacker runs with the seam route we can throw to the running back who will be replacing the area vacated by the linebacker. But first we must read the safeties to see if they are being activated by the corner routes. If they are activated, the seam route will be open because you a receiver matched up with a linebacker.

2nd & 8

Offense: Shotgun 3×1 Formation

Defense: 4-3 Formation, Cover 2

Play: Quick Out

Play Explanation

On the three-receiver side of the formation, I would have the number 1 receiver run a fade or clear route, number 2 has a bend route, and number 3 would run a quick out.

If the number 1 receiver does his job correctly and releases outside to get the cornerback to turn and run with him, the quick out route by receiver number 3 is open. If number 1 must release inside, we have put the safety in a compromising position. The safety must decide between the bend route the #2 receiver is running or the fade route the #1 receiver has, we just throw to the open guy.

The bend route will be open in the open grass area between the two safeties on defense. To make this window as wide as possible, we will have the receiver on the backside of the formation run a burst corner route to pull that side safety away from the middle of the field. Now that the safety is out of that empty area, we can almost float the ball into the grass area.

Leave a Reply