Wide Receiver Coverage Reading

by Clayton George, Wide Receiver Coach, North Texas State

A. Coverage Reading

  1. In teaching the wide receivers at North Texas we identify 3 basic coverages:
    1. Cover 1
    2. Cover 2
    3. Cover 0
  1. Coverages
    1. Cover 1– We teach that if the middle of the field is “closed” (meaning there is a safety in the middle of the field), then we identify that as cover 1. We will also teach the cover 3 concept as well.
    2. Cover 2– We teach that if the middle of the field is “open” (meaning it is a 2 safety look), then we identify that as cover 2. We will also teach cover 2 man, quarters and all the different looks we can see out of a 2 safety look.
    3. Cover 0-We teach that if the safeties have moved down to 8 yards depth or less and the middle of the field is open that this is blitz.

3.  Route Adjustment based on Coverage
               1.  Smash concept-cover 1; cover 2
2.  4 Vertical concept-cover 1; cover 2, cover 0
3.  Choice concept-cover


1. Be physical; Quick Hands and Feet; Must have Rhythm; Must Attack.
2. A receiver in this offense will not play if cannot get off the ball.

  1. Types of Releases
    1. Foot fire- The receiver is attacking the DB’s technique up field taking him opposite of where he wants to go. He must use a great head and shoulder fake to freeze the DB. He then uses the grab and punches through/rips and releases up field.
    2. One step- Quick jab step in the opposite direction of where you are going. The purpose is to turn the DB’s hips and shoulders which will allow the receiver a clean release.
    3. Two Step- Extended version of the one step. Used against a DB that will over play the first step.
    4. Speed- At all cost a receiver must get inside or outside of a DB at whatever angle you must take to get underneath or outside of the DB. It is important to get back on stem.
  2.  Release Drills
    1. Foot fire- This drill is done with 5 cones set up in a 45 degree cone drill. Each cone though is set up approximately 1 yard from each other. The receiver begins the drill by starting a quick foot fire to each cone and once reaching the cone he wants to stick the foot and foot fire to the next. This drill works the foot fire along with the attitude slams.
    2. Box Drill Release- Create a box with 4 cones. Each cone should be 5 yards apart, but can be adjusted to make the drill more difficult or easier. Receiver must use one of his releases against a live defender. Objective is not to get pushed out of the box and to get back on route stem.
    3. 4 in a hole- This drill is done with a lay down ladder on the ground. The purpose of the drill is to work the rhythm of the release. This drill is designed for the receiver to get the “feel” of the release. He is practicing the foot fire part of the release in each square for a 4 count. On command he works a 4 count foot fire in each hole going down and back.
    4. Releases vs. Big Red: This drill is done with a stand up dummy. The receiver on command will foot fire and on the second command will use his release on the dummy finishing back on track or on top of the route.
    5. Releases vs. press DB- Hands; feet; full release. This is done with 2 receivers partnered up on a yard line working the 3 phases of the release-hands; feet; full release.


  1. This is the last phase of the release. It is important that the receiver pushes back “on top” of his original alignment to “stack the defender”. This ensures that the defender cannot overplay his route. Another term that is used is to “swap hips” with the DB.
  2. Examples of routes vs. press coverage:
    1. Fade
    2. Post
    3. Smash
    4. Middle



The key ingredient to getting open on any given route is the receiver winning at the top of the route. It is important that a receiver is constantly “attacking” the DB and the particular coverage he is playing. Remember it is not the fastest receiver but those that have the right technique in running routes. The following are must’s in getting open at the top of the route:

  1. Squaring up and attacking a DB’s technique.
  2. Decisive cuts at the top of routes.
  3. Being a “salesman” of your route; sell a particular route to set up the route you are running.
  4. Get separation at the breaking point.
  1. Drills
    • Attitude Slams: Receivers will get in 3 lines about 4 yards apart. The coach will stand in front and give a “buzz em” command.  When the receivers here “buzz em”, they will run in place as if running a route.  The coach will give a direction command with his hand and the players will slam the foot nearest the direction the coach indicated into the ground.  The body should follow the slam in order to keep your feet within the framework of your shoulders and also hide your numbers. After you slam in the particular direction, the receiver will continue to run in place waiting for the next command. The coach will give 3 or 4 commands each way.
      GOAL OF DRILL: To create passionate, deliberate and deceiving moves at the top of route stems. To create clean sharp breaks at the tops of route stems.

      • Buzz and Slam
      • Stride and Slam
    • 45/90 degree cuts: Cones are 5 yards apart on the sideline to the top of the numbers. The purpose is to teach the receiver to sink the hips, stick the foot, and drive to the next cone. The receiver should never let his plant foot get outside the width of the cone. This will keep his feet underneath his body. After the 45 degree is complete the receiver comes back down the cones breaking at 90 degree cuts.
    • Circles: This drill is used with 5 cones placed 5 yards apart in a straight line.  The purpose of the drill is to work on overall route technique hiding the numbers, sinking the hips, arm movement, and sticking or slamming the plant foot. The receiver will start on the right side of the cone and sprint of each cone sticking the plant foot and working from right of left around the cone and then sprint to the next cone.
    • Stick Foot: This drill is done with a lay down ladder.  The receiver starts on the right side of the ladder running through the ladder. When the coach says “stick” the receiver sticks his right foot on the ladder.  He repeats this process down and back. The purpose is to again teach the receiver to keep his feet inside the framework of the body when his making a cut and also to develop head and shoulder lean.
    • Box Drill Routes: Align 8 cones in a square formation.  The cones that create the outside square will be 7-10 yards apart and the inside cones will be a yard inside each of the other cones. GOAL OF THE DRILL: To create clean, square routes. Eliminate rounding of routes and drifting away from the ball on square cuts.  To get in and out of breaks at the top of route stems.
      • Square Breaks: The receivers start at one of the cones and work around the square in the first drill.  The first drill reinforces square breaks at the top of route stems. They will approach the first cone wit ha half speed high knee approach. When they can step on the defenders feet (cone), they slam with their outside foot and then exaggerate their “dead leg” (trail leg) by lifting it high and stepping to the very next cone. Their dead leg should step to the very next cone creating a 90 degree angle.  This is repeated all the way around the square.
      • Diagonal Cuts: The receivers will follow the same execution details as the square cuts, however they will work 225 degree cuts.  Routes in which you need to plant and work directly back to the QB.


    1. Smash
    2. Middle
    3. Post
    4. Post Corner


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