2nd & Long with Robert Johnson: How to beat Cover 3 and Cover 4

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 few situations 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 3

Play: Hitch-Seam

Play Explanation

I would just run a basic hitch-seam combination route. The outside receivers would run hithc routes and the slot receiever would run the seam routes. My first option would be to throw to the hitch routes. If the linebacker playing curl to flats is quick to cover the hitch route, we have the seam route.

2nd & 8

Offense: Shotgun 3×1 Formation

Defense: 4-3 Formation, Cover 3

Play: Stick 

Play Explanation

On the three-receiver side of the formation, #1 will have a clear route, #2 will run a quick out, and #3 will have a hook route, opening away from the Sam(strong) linebacker. Easy 5 yard gain.

2nd & 7

Offense: Shotgun 2×2 Formation

Defense: 4-3 Formation, Cover 4

Play: Mesh

Play Explanation

I would run the Mesh Concept same as cover 2, but now I’m reading the 10 yard out by the Z receiver.

2nd & 8

Offense: Shotgun 3×1 Formation

Defense: 4-3 Formation, Cover 4

Play: Curls

Play Explanation

On the three-receiver side of the formation, the #1 receiver will run a curl route, the #2 receiver has a flat, and the #3 receiver runs a curl route against the mike linebacker.

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