Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wide Cross Inside Fire Zone

I added the coverage adjustment to this post on 3/29/12.  Thanks again to the Anonymous comment that pointed this out on the video.

The Wide Cross Inside Fire Zone is a great way to get pressure right in a QB's face. The picture below is a page from Dick LeBeau's 2002 Bengal playbook:
2002 Cincinnati Bengals 3-4 Defense - Dick LeBeau.pdf

Backer and Core refers to the Force players on each side (the Sam LB and Elephant DE).  The play is drawn with the Nose in a 2i, but he is often in a Shade/1 tech in the cut-ups (just as long as he can get out of the way quick enough).  The Buck LB will go first and the Mike will go second.  Someone on Coach Huey asked about the difference between Cover 3 and Cover 3 Fire for the Corners. The difference is that the Corners don't midpoint the number one and two receivers going vertical in 3 Fire coverage as they do in regular Cover 3.

If the Corners aren't helping out vs. the #2 WRs, wouldn't this leave the FS out to dry vs. 4 Verts? Well, the key is with the Seam/Force players. Dick LeBeau teaches these players to funnel the #2 WR inside towards the FS. Blitzology explains this in more depth here and here.

The first three cut-ups show adjustments that the Steelers make to their Fire Zone coverage to improve the coverage as well as the leverage of their Force player.

Cut-up #1 - The Steelers pre-snap will plan to run their Fire Zone coverage the same way that it is drawn in the playbook diagram since #2 is a TE to Field.

Cut-up #1 - The RB motions and becomes the new #2 so the Sam and SS switch coverage assignments to help improve their Fire Zone coverage. Also, it helps the run defense to where the SS Force player has outside leverage on #2. The Steelers will make this adjustment anytime #2 is lined up wider than a TE.

Cut-up #2 - A WR is split wide as the #2, so the SS and Sam switch.

Cut-up #3 - #2 is lined up wider than the TE, so the SS and Sam make a call to switch.

Cut-up #3 - #2 motions away and the TE becomes the new #2, so the SS and Sam switch back the coverage.

Keep an eye on the coverage adjustments as you watch the cut-ups which are from the 2004 Steelers vs. both the Pass and Run. It is a great Fire Zone vs. both.


  1. In the cut-ups, it looks like SS and S are exchanging zones in some situations. Am I seeing that correctly?

  2. You nailed it. LeBeau's playbook has Sam drop to 2 Seam and SS drop to 3 Hook vs. a standard Pro set where #2 is the TE. However, when #2 is a WR or a Wing, they do switch it. SS has better leverage or position to be the 2 Seam player and Sam is in better position to be the 3 Hook guy.

    This is another great example of a FZ adjustment to improve the coverage. When you run a FZ multiple times, adjustments like these can be relatively easy. Thank you for posting that comment, I learned something new and I will draw that up and update the post.

  3. Good deal. We have similar rules with a wide #2, with a big difference being that we don't have Troy Polamalu on our roster.