What are the three toughest routes to defend?

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While watching the Bears run through red zone 7-on-7 Wednesday afternoon in Bourbonnais, I was asked about the toughest routes to defend. My answer: the goal line fade, post-corner and seam. Let's break them down.

1. Goal line fade (back-shoulder fade)

-Click here to see the goal line fade

Calvin Johnson US PRESSWIREFinding the ball on the fade route vs. Calvin Johnson is tough on any DB.

The No.1 issue in defending the goal line fade: finding the ball. How often do you see a DB mirror the release, use his hands at the line of scrimmage and drive to the inside hip of the WR only to panic (and grab jersey) when he can’t locate the ball? Turn into the receiver (think back-shoulder) before looking inside for the ball and play up through the hands (called “playing the pocket”). Depending on the split (top of the numbers for fade), use a slight inside shade (take away the slant), react to the outside release, drive to the WR and find the ball. And if anyone out there has a technique that can take away the back-shoulder fade from Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, let me know. Because I haven’t found one yet.

2. Post-Corner (vs. Cover 2 safety)

-Click here to see the Post-Corner

I’ve been a victim of this double-move. I know Cover 2 safeties want to drive the 7 (corner) route from the depth half, but staying square (with depth) will save you vs. the post-corner. Get to a depth of 15-yards at the snap, relax in your pedal and focus on the hips of the WR. Too often we see safeties that sit short, open their hips on the initial stem to the 7 and struggle to get back “in-phase” with the WR once he breaks to the 8 (post). Again, we are looking at technique. And if the deep half, poor technique (and eyes) will lead to six points. Remember, you have help on the 7 from the CB sinking underneath. Stay square and let the route come to you.

3. Seam/Skinny Post

-Click here to see the Seam/Skinny Post

You will see this concept from the TE position (think Rob Gronkowski in the Patriots offense) or from a WR in the slot position. The seam/skinny post will target the SS in Cover 4 (quarters) and can eat up Cover 1 (man-free) because of leverage. The TE/WR will use a slight outside stem (to create separation and force the DB to widen) and work back to the middle of the field. Tough spot to be in playing from an outside leverage position. Drive to the upfield shoulder and attack the ball. Want to undercut the route? Then you better make the play.

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