Breaking down Ed Reed's playmaking ability

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This week we went to the chalkboard to check out the Saints Cover 7 scheme and an example of how to defeat the Bears zone blitz. Today, let’s breakdown some video of Ravens safety Ed Reed and talk technique as it applies to the free safety position.

We know Reed is a playmaker (and the best at tracking the ball in the secondary), but focusing on his pre-snap read and technique will give us a better idea of why he is always making plays from the middle of the field. Check out the video of Reed’s pick-six off of Carson Palmer from the ’09 season and then we will get into some coaching points.

Overload blitz: We won’t spend too much time on scheme, but take a look at the Ravens up front. Working vs. a 3x1 set into the boundary, they run an open (weak) side overload blitz scheme. Regardless if the blitz gets home, this tells you as a FS that the ball has to come out hot. Expect a quick, inside breaking route.

Pre-snap look: Go back and check out the end zone angle on the replay. Reed is showing strong and “rolls” to the middle of the field at the snap of the ball. The key (and a coaching point for young players) is Reed’s footwork. He doesn’t backpedal, or take any false steps. Instead, he stays at a depth that will allow him to break to the football.

Breaking on the ball: This is what makes this play special from my perspective—because Reed is breaking before Palmer throws the ball. As I said above, expect an inside breaking route with from the X receiver with a 3x1 formation into the boundary, but this is more about anticipation and natural playmaking ability. See the route develop, read the drop (plus the eyes of the QB) and attack the football.

Angle: Reed drives on the skinny post from the X receiver, Chad Ochocinco. It is downhill, at a 45-degree angle that puts him at a “cut-off point” in front of the Bengals wide out. If you go parallel to the line of scrimmage, you can still make the tackle (or a big hit). However, to put yourself in a position to intercept this ball, always go back to the angle. Safeties that take proper angles from the middle of the field make plays.

Can you teach this?

Yes, when we talk about technique, plus understanding offensive formations, route concepts and alignments. Although Reed has unique talent and instincts in the middle of the field, his technique is clean in this clip. And you don’t need the talent of Reed at the FS position to teach good, fundamental football in the classroom and on the field.

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