- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
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For those with an interest in the X's and O's of football, former NFL safety and current ESPN Insider contributor Matt Bowen has a unique breakdown of how to best defend the Patriots' two tight end package in the red zone, catalyzed by Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
Bowen breaks down various coverages of note, positing that the best way to contain the dynamic duo is through a Cover 2 defense, which he describes below.
"In the red zone, Cover 2 turns into 'Red 2': Rush four, drop seven to landmarks and read the quarterback. Both CBs will play a 'soft squat' (no jam, sink at the snap) and trail the No. 1 WR vertically until they are threatened with a throw to the flat. With the Mike (middle linebacker) opening his hips to the passing strength, and carrying the inside vertical, "Red 2" turns into a five-deep, two-under defense. Create a wall in the end zone, limit the vertical game, squeeze throwing windows, take advantage of the short field and force the ball to go underneath. It's boring and it doesn't look exotic on the chalkboard, but the goal of Cover 2 here is simple: defend the end zone and make the quarterback dump off the ball."
In addition to coverage specific breakdowns, Bowen highlights preferred route concepts for the Patriots, complete with illustrations that paint a vivid picture of the development of the play. Among those denoted are the "Smash-Seam," "Flat-7/Double Smash-Seam," and "Pin" concepts, which Bowen details more completely in the piece.
The piece is a comparable to a glimpse inside of a defensive meeting room, as Bowen brings playing experience to his work and articulates his insight in a way that is easy to understand.
We'd suggest checking out Bowen's other work as well.
To read the piece, CLICK HERE (Insider content).