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The ‘back shoulder’ fade. A route that is replacing the standard goal line fade and one-step slant inside of the 10-yard line in the NFL. We see it from Brady, Brees, Rodgers, etc. Put the football where only the WR can make a play—and DBs across the league are being victimized.
How do you stop it? Let’s go back to opening night of the 2011 season in Green Bay. The Packers’ Greg Jennings working vs. the Saints’ Patrick Robinson playing man coverage from a press-position.
Check out the replay and then we will break down the technique of the CB position vs. the “back shoulder” fade.
Quick defensive technique points
- False step from Robinson. As a CB, you can’t step forward when you are in a press-position. Stay square in your stance, slide your feet and mirror the release of the WR.
- Use your hands. The Saints’ CB (after the false step) doesn’t get hands on Jennings on the initial release. When the Packers’ WR gives that slight stutter at the line of scrimmage, jam with your inside hand (vs. an outside release) and force him to alter his stem up the field.
- Don’t “open the gate.” Slide the feet to a cut-off position and force the WR to release where you want him to go. When you open your hips (and allow him to take a vertical stem) you are stuck in a trail position.
Playing the ball
- Don’t look back for the ball. This is going to cause separation with the WR and that is all it takes down inside of the 10-yard line. Instead, focus on the inside hip of the WR once he is into the route stem. Let you eyes take you to the point of attack.
- “Play the pocket.” As I said above, don’t look back for the ball. Here, play on that inside hip and stick your hands in the “pocket” (in-between the WR’s arms). Don’t swat at the ball or rake down on the arm—and don’t panic.
- Don’t over run the route. We can see that here with Robinson and it goes back to his initial footwork. Once you are beat, you have to recover. And that’s when see CBs playing too far up field—opening up the “back-shoulder” fade.
No question this is the tough route to defend inside of the red zone vs. an elite QB. And it is also very easy for me to break down a CB’s technique after seeing it on replay. However, if you win on the release, work through the stem and “play the pocket” you have a chance to compete.
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