A quick lesson in DB technique vs. the 9 route

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I talk about technique often when it comes to secondary play in the NFL: footwork, hands, leverage, eyes, etc. The tools that give you a chance to compete. Today, I want to take a quick look at Packers’ CB Tramon Williams to illustrate the technique of playing the ball vs. the 9 (fade) route.

Check out the video below from the 2010 Packers-Eagles Wild Card game and then we will get into some coaching points.

Packers vs. Eagles
Personnel: Jet (4 WR, 1 RB)
Route concept: 4 Verticals
Defensive scheme: Cover 4 (quarters)

- With the ball in the “High Red Zone” (20-35 yard line), the Eagles are taking a shot to the end zone. Jet personnel on the field in a 2x2 “Orange” (or spread) alignment. With “4 Verticals” called in the huddle, QB Michael Vick throws the outside 9 route to WR Riley Cooper.

- In Cover 4, both CBs will match the outside verticals with the SS and FS playing over the top of the No.2 WRs after a depth of 12-yards on the release.

- Focus on the end zone angle with Williams. He is playing with inside leverage. Why? Look at the split of Cooper. The WR can’t run an outside breaking concept with that alignment (unless he wants to catch the ball in the fourth row of the crowd).

- Look at the patience from Williams on the release. Smooth in his backpedal until his cushion (distance between DB and WR) is threatened. Open the hips to the WR (man technique) and stack on top of the route. Even with the slight stem from Cooper to the inside, Williams is in the proper position the entire time.

- I talk about DBs being “in-phase” at the point of attack. That’s what we are looking at here. Williams has Cooper under control. There is no panic from the CB. Because of that, Williams can turn back to the QB and find the ball.

- Still have to finish the play. Go to a practice (at any level) and you will hear DB coaches teaching guys to “play the ball at the highest point.” Sounds simple, but you want to see your DBs go up and get the football. Don’t allow the WR to jump over your back (which won’t be called) and steal it. Go ahead and make the play.

The only negative here? Williams has to get down after the pick. However, that's a CB for you....they all think they are WRs when they get their hands on the ball.

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