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Playing 2-Man (2-deep, man-under with “trail” technique) in a two-minute situation is a smart call when you are trying to take away inside breaking routes. Coach up your underneath defenders to sit hard to the inside and use the safety help over the top. However, offenses will scheme (with personnel and alignment) to target the middle of the field vs. the 2-deep shell.
Today, let’s go back to the NFC Divisional Playoffs. Saints at 49ers. Drew Brees to TE Jimmy Graham vs. the 2-Man. Check out the replay and then we will get into some coaching points.
Saints at 49ers
Offensive Personnel: Posse (3WR-1TE-1RB)
Defensive Scheme: 2-Man
Route breakdown: “999” is very similar to 4 Verticals and we often see it out a 3x1 alignment vs. Cover 2 teams. Here, the Saints run the “999” concept out of an Empty formation with RB Darren Sproles (removed from the core) on an underneath option route. Work the vertical concepts and look up the inside seam.
2-Man technique: As I said above, the underneath defenders will use a “trail” man technique and sit to the inside with their alignment. Force the receivers to release to the outside, play to the inside hip and cut any inside breaking concept using your safety help to protect over the top. That’s what we see here from the Niners. I like the call and the technique.
“999 vs. 2-Man: The idea is simple: put stress on the two deep half safeties and force them to widen outside of the numbers to play the 9 (fade) routes from the No.1 WRs. This allows Graham to work to the middle of the field and split the safeties. The one weak spot in this coverage.
Ball placement: Check out the throw here from Brees. This is good coverage from 49ers LB Patrick Willis playing 2-Man technique. Exactly how you are coached up to play in this situation. However, Brees put this ball on the back shoulder of Graham (away from the defender’s leverage). Perfect pass given the route and coverage.
Secure the tackle: 49ers safety Donte Whitner is going for the INT. Not what you want to see in a 2-minute drill. Drive from the deep half at an angle to the upfield shoulder of the receiver and put yourself in a position to make the tackle first. Because once you give Graham open field to work with, this is going to lead to six points. Secure the tackle and give the defense another shot on the next play.
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