Ball Away: Chase, Collapse, and Check Counter

Chase and Collapse pertains to Ends, Tackles, Sam and Rover

In order for us to play sound football from the backside of any run play we must be very aware  of backside pursuit responsibilities. Four of the most important factors in this phase of football is the cutback zone, reverse, bootleg and counter. These responsibilities fall on the backside Sam or Rover, End and/or Tackle. The defenders who have collapse responsibility will defend the zone cutback.

The following explanation explains and diagrams Chase, Collapse, and Check Counter techniques used on the backside of our defense when the ball is running away. The information below explains the different plays that each technique defends when our opponents run the football.

Chase Technique is used with our widest rusher off the back edge. The chase defender will keep the ball carrier on his inside shoulder and will only climb as deep as the back with the ball. A chase defender is responsible for defending Bootleg, Counter, and Reverse.

Our Chase defender will chase as far as “A” gap away and then will get into his proper pursuit angle by never following the same colored jersey. As chase technique is worked at practice have your running back change direction on occasion to see if the chase defender is there waiting for change of direction of the football.

Once a chase defender reads pass he is responsible for outside contain of the quarterback.

Collapse can be any down defender who plays through the back door and who are the next defender inside the chase player when the ball goes away. A Collapse player can also be Sam or Rover who are playing a base assignment (Sweeper). Collapse Tackles and Ends will play off the back heels of the
offensive line. Collapse players are responsible for all cutback plays. Collapse players have “B” gap away for taking their proper pursuit angle.

Check Counter: Responsibility of the backside Linebacker:

A Check Counter player will be our backside linebacker (Mike or Will) and will use a freeze step before reacting to the football. Our backside linebacker will check for any counter play coming back at him before reacting to ball away.

Each position coach will incorporate some type of chase, collapse, and check counter in their specific drills. A specific period will be set aside for pursuit drill that brings all the individual positions together in order to tie the backside of pursuit together with the front side of any play. When our defenders react to their assignment they should respond with the technique and assignment, this reinforces their responsibilities to their position coach and fellow defenders.

Chase, Collapse Calls for Defensive Tackles, Sam, and Rover

On each play, you can incorporate a call from Sam and Rover prior to the snap to remind the defensive tackle of his chase or collapse responsibility. The tackles will react accordingly to their call.  Chase and Collapse calls only effect them when the ball goes away or they read pass, not when the
ball is run at them.

1. Chase Alert –
(Tackle will return with collapse call) This tells the Sam and Rover that they have contain assignment. The tackle can take and inside pass rush when pass shows because your Sam and Rover will contain the quarterback. If ball goes away, quickly shed offensive tackle across his face and flatten down the L.O.S.

2. Collapse Alert –
(Tackle will return with chase call) This tells your Sam and Rover that they have pass coverage responsibility. Tackles must contain the quarterback. If ball away, throttle down, find the ball, then chase as deep as the ball. Reverse and bootleg are the responsibility of your tackles. When ball goes away and you get a down block from the OT you should use a pull by technique, which helps in putting you in a proper chase technique.



About the Author of this post:

Jerry Campbell has over 30 years of high school and college coaching experience. He has experience as a head coach, offensive coordinator, and various position coaches. He has written numerous football coaching articles in various publications, is the author of over 30 books on coaching football, and has produced 12 coaching video series. Additionally, he is a nationally sought after speaker on the coaching clinic circuit.

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