3 over 2 pressure packages have become very popular over the past few years. Coach Thakker shares how they make their work for big stops and big plays.
By Saj Thakkar
Defensive Backs Coach/Special Teams Coordinator
SUNY Maritime College (NY)
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Here at SUNY Maritime we play an aggressive 3-4 slant/angle defense with a 2 high look from the secondary. We play a variety of different coverages but our favorite to pair with our 6 man pressures is over 3 over 2 “Hot” coverage. We like to bring our 6 man pressures against 10 personnel sets in order to force the quarterback to get rid of the ball quickly.
Our hot coverage allows us to play aggressive with our blitz game and gives 5 coverage men who can aggressively jump routes based off the quarterback’s keys. 3 over 2 also allow us to bring 6 without the fear of losing a matchup in 0 coverage and getting hit with a big play. The coverage involves two “hot seam” players, usually one LB and one drop safety, with the corners playing what we call an aggressive 1/3 technique, and a deep middle safety.
Here are the keys that we teach regarding the QB Drop:
• Front Shoulder (Direction/Trajectory)
• Off Hand (Break Key)
Hot Seams (Ram/Lion)
As with any successful coverage, we must communicate effectively to be successful. When we call our 6 man pressure, it is our coverage linebacker’s job to make the initial hot seam call. He will call either ram or lion depending on which seam he is responsible for. The safety opposite him will follow the call with the opposite call alerting the defense that we will have two hot seam players.
We tell our drop safety to stay disguised as long as possible. Although this is an aggressive coverage, the worst thing that can happen is for him to get caught too low and are out of position to play the seam. We do not want him under 5 yards. Against a 2 receiver set, we aim to drop to the inside shoulder of the #2 receiver in order to be able to drive on the quick slant or under route.
Against a single receiver side, our hot player is aiming for the slant window while keying the near back (if present). We coach them to key the quarterback on snap for drop, front shoulder, and eye direction. They must find the nearest receiver and take him away. We are continually stressing that they MUST PROTECT SEAMS FIRST and rally to the flat on the throw.
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- Plus game film on these pressures.
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There are a couple things that we consider musts when we run our 3 over 2 coverage. First we must contain the QB and force the ball out quickly. We cannot lose contain and allow for an extended play. Another is that we must be able to play without thinking. Defenders need to react and run in order to be effective. We must make quick decisions and be able to make plays in the open field.
I cannot state enough that this is not an every down all the time call for our defense. We must be strategic on when to call our 6 man pressures and when to run this coverage. It is a way to confuse offenses and force bad decisions at the times we feel they are susceptible to them. I would like to thank X&O Labs for the opportunity to write another article and for being an excellent resource.
Meet Coach Thakker: Coach Saj Thakker just completed his first year as full time defensive backs coach at SUNY Maritime College in New York City. Prior to Maritime, Saj spent 2 years at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts spending time coaching running backs, quarterbacks, and as the special teams coordinator.
Key Statistics: 2nd in conference in YPG allowed, 1st in conference/10th in country in pass YPG allowed, 1st in conference/33rd in country in sacks.