The Cover Zero Blitz From a 4-3

By Kenny Ratledge

Cover 0 is a way to bring six-man pressure with Will and Sam in the rush or a seven-man pressure in a bullets look with Will, Sam and Mike on the blitz.

Cover 0 is great for short-yardage and three-back sets. The major weakness obviously, is the corners are on an island. However, on pass plays, the ball must come out quickly as the defense will close to the numbers.

This six-man pressure is called Storm 0. In Storm 0, Will and Sam run dog stunts. The dog angle is at the quarterback.

The defense uses two ways to get into storm.

A stem Storm 0 call gives the offense an over 8 presnap look generically referred to as a Cover 4. Individual defenders, on their own, move to their assigned areas.

A straight Storm 0 call tells the defense to line up in assigned areas.

Storm 0 is beneficial if the defense is expecting an offensive quick snap.

The quarterback should see the same defensive shell presnap. For example, a Cover 4 look. The defense must recognize one-back or two-back formations to get into the cover scheme. This isn’t difficult when players understand formation possibilities inherent in offensive personnel packages.

For example, in a 10 personnel grouping, the offense will normally line up in a trips, doubles or empty formation.

Motion adjustment

The defense adjusts to motion by having the defender assigned to the motion man follow him when he motions. The defense should not attempt to bump or realign the front.

Tight end trade adjustment

The defender assigned to the tight end will follow him on a trade. The defense can Omaha the trade and realign the front, or they can freeze with no movement of the front.

Here’s a breakdown on what each player is doing.

Will and Sam. Take dog angle to the quarterback.

Mike. Takes a single back man-to-man. Against an I set, takes the tailback. Against split backs, takes the strong back. Versus empty sets, Mike takes the No. 3 strong.

Corners. No. 1 receiver man-to-man

Strong safety. No. 2 receiver to closed side man

Free safety. No. 3 receiver counting from the closed side. Does not count the back in a one-back set. Versus two backs, does not count the strong back in split backs. Versus an I formation, takes the fullback. Versus empty, takes No. 2 weak. Versus two-back motion, takes the motion man, leaving Mike with the remaining back.

Ends. Execute an inside charge through the V of the neck of the offensive tackle. The ends close on a down block and go underneath on a base or pass set. They redirect on a reach block.

Tackle. Executes a spike. He too will close on a down block and go under a base block or a pass set. Like the end, he will redirect on a reach block.

Nose. Plays a normal 1 technique.


Kenny Ratledge has been a defensive coordinator for more than three decades and currently is the special teams coordinator and defensive line coach at Pigeon Forge (Tenn.) High School. Ratledge has coached defensive line, inside linebackers, outside linebackers, secondary, offensive line and special teams. In 2002, he was named the AFLAC National Assistant Coach of the Year.