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Playbook: Victor Cruz vs. Eagles' Cover 4

How did Cruz beat the Philly secondary? Let's take a look. Matt Bowen

Print This July 07, 2012, 05:30 AM EST

Click here for the entire Inside the Playbook series.

Let’s focus on the route tree in the “high” red zone (20-35 yard line) today and use Victor Cruz’s TD catch vs. the Eagles to breakdown Cover 4 (quarters) technique. Take a look at the replay and then we will get into some coaching points.

Giants vs. Eagles
Personnel: Regular (2WR-1TE-2RB)
Formation: Pro (Strong I) “Bunch”
Route: Sail
Defensive scheme: Cover 4 (Quarters)

Route breakdown: The Giants use Z short motion (Cruz) to create a bunch (three receivers close together).  With the closed (strong) side of the formation to the field, the Giants run the “Sail” concept: Z on the vertical release, Y (TE) on the intermediate 7 (corner) and F (FB) to the flat. A three-level scheme vs. Cover 4.

Bunch release: Much easier for the WR to get into the route scheme vs. quarters coverage out of the bunch look. As you can see on the replay, Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha drops back to an off-man alignment and plays a “Zorro” call with the SS (alert for possible “scissors” route with Z and Y; pass off receivers). This gives Cruz the opportunity to take a straight release, stem to the safety and then work back to the boundary.

Cover 4 vs. bunch: The Eagles could have used a “Box” call (4-on-3) vs. the route, but with the “Zorro” call Philly still has Cruz “bracketed” (CB plays for outside break, safety protects to the inside). This is what you want from a defensive perspective playing Cover 4.

Finish the play: The way I see it, Giants QB Eli Manning puts this ball up for his WR to go make the play. As I said above, this is the right call from a defensive perspective and the Eagles are in the proper position to steal one. However, Cruz attacks the ball and plays the pass at the highest point.

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