The Cover 3 defense basically divides the field in to 3 sections. Here is a breakdown of the responsibilities:
Cornerbacks: Responsible for their section of the field, which basically stretches from the sideline to the hash mark. This is a big responsibility, as the CB’s are responsible for the flats as well as deep coverage.
Free Safety: Responsible for the middle section of the field, which essentially stretches from hash mark to hash mark.
Strong Safety: Lines up closer to the line of scrimmage, across from the tight end. Generally responsible for assisting the CB on that side with the curl area. (The SS will occasionally be matched up man to man with the TE in a Cover 3.)
Outside Linebackers: Drift to the flat and curl area to assist the CB.
Middle Linebacker: Assists the S with coverage in the middle zone.
As you can see, the Cover 3 defense is most effective with athletic CB’s who can run the field. OLB’s can also strengthen this defense by reading the offense, and assisting the the curl/flat zones.
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