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Film Room: Defense Part Four—Other Man Coverages

Ryan Walters is back, and he’s bringing man-to-man coverages with him.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

In the previous installment of Film Room we looked at defensive coordinator Ryan Walters’ favorite coverage—Cover 1. As we noted, Cover 1 is man-to-man with a single deep safety. While Walters often has his secondary in Cover 1, he makes use of several other man-to-man coverages, three of which we will look at today.

Those coverages are Cover 1 Robber, Cover 2 Man, and Cover 0.

Cover 1 Robber

Cover 1 Robber is exactly like Cover 1, but with a second safety who is free, playing in a third level between underneath and deep zones, robbing any routes that come into his area.

The strong safety is the robber.

The alignment the robber plays is that of the Aztec safety, so named because it was developed by Rocky Long at San Diego State. It is difficult for blocking schemes to account for a defender aligned beyond linebacker depth, so the Aztec is valuable as a run defender. As a pass defender the position can be used in multiple ways.

Walters uses his robber to take away balls in the intermediate middle of the field. For this reason, whereas they normally take away a receiver’s inside release, man-defenders will usually funnel the receiver inside toward the robber.

Cover 1 Robber necessitates seven men in coverage, meaning it cannot be used with a blitz unless edge blitzers peel with releasing backs.

Let’s look at some examples from Missouri’s 2019 season.

Cover 1 Robber Example One

Here we can see strong safety Ronnell Perkins (#3) aligned as the robber, right at the first down marker on a third-and-eight.

Perkins undercuts the crossing route, leaving the In route, which corner Christian Holmes (#21) is leveraging inside, open.

Cover 1 Robber Example Two

On this third-and-six the Tigers are in a Tite Front with Dime personnel. Three corners—Christian Holmes (#21), DeMarkus Acy (#2), and Jarvis Ware (#8)—are on the field.

Left defensive end Jatorian Hansford (#28) aborts his pass rush, perhaps looking for the RB to release to his side, or to undercut an In route from the wide receiver to his outside.

In this shot we can see strong safety Perkins again patrolling the intermediate middle of the field.

Cover 1 Robber Example Three

Third-and-21 and Mizzou is in Dime personnel—Khahlil Oliver (#20) joins the other three safeties on the field—and Cover 1 Robber.

The Tennessee quarterback is able to thread the ball in to his receiver, just in front of Perkins, the robber.

Cover 2 Man

Cover 2 Man is much like Cover 1 Robber—man-to-man with two free defenders. The difference is that in Cover 2 Man, the free players take deep halves, affording the man-defenders extra protection over the top. Because of this, the man coverage can be especially aggressive with their receivers.

Walters didn’t use this coverage frequently, so I only have one example to offer.

Cover 2 Man Example One

Cover 0

Cover 0 is just what it sounds like—man-to-man with no free deep defender.

Obviously Cover 0 is usually used in support of max blitzes.

Let’s look at a few examples. We’ll ignore the blitzes for now and come back to them in the final segment in this series.

These clips are self-explanatory. We will see five pass defenders over each of the potential receivers. The other defenders will rush the passer.

Cover 0 Example One

Cover 0 Example Two

Cover 0 Example Three

Cover 0 Example Four

Cover 0 Example Five


This concludes our analysis of Ryan Walters’ man-to-man coverages. Next time in Film Room we’ll take a look at the zone coverages coach Walters likes to sprinkle into his scheme.