DEFENSIVE PLAYBOOK

Their Slot Is Wearing You Out. How Can You Fix It?

By Charlie Coiner, FirstDown PlayBook

Some teams are very talented in the passing game and they come after you on the outside with speed and dare you to match up against them. This is why 2 deep and 4 deep coverages can be a defensive coordinator’s best friend when he needs them.

There are other teams who are talented outside but where they get you is in the slot with underneath routes. We have all seen that slot receiver who has wiggle and can just get open in space. Think Wes Welker and Julian Edelman and how the Patriots wore defenses out with both.

Although you won’t have to line up against Brady, Welker or Edelman this year, everything is relative, right? What’s your answer when the opposing offense is serving up death by 1,000 cuts? They are just feeding the slot receiver on option routes.

Before we get started here let me point out that I am aware that there are many ways to bracket a talented receiver in the red zone. Trust me, I have seen it on many a Sunday.

I have also seen it blow up in a defensive coordinators face when the offense started shifting and motioning. This is why, at the high school level I would suggest that you find a very simple fix for defending this slot receiver.

You want your nickel to travel with the slot receiver regardless of if he is strong or weak. The safety to that side will work with the nickel to “in and out” or bracket the slot underneath.

Of course in this case you are going to normally just match up outside if you want to play a deep safety. That’s why it’s best to disguise this bracket until late. The QB should see two deep or quarters prior to snap.

If the slot runs vertical then the safety to that side will cover him. Remember, it’s not the deep threat that he has been hurting you with. The nickel will then settle and look to help underneath vs a shallow crosser from Z or X.

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