Robber Coverage- Get 9 in the Box

In 2010 when I started at Hough High School (Cornelius, NC) I learned robber coverage from my good friend our DB Coach- Chachi Sullivan, former South Carolina State Defensive Coordinator now South Alabama Safeties Coach- Mike Adams and also former South Carolina State DB Coach and now Citadel DEF Pass Game Coordinator/ Safeties Coach- Joel Taylor I learned a lot of good defensive football from these guys in my rookie years of coaching.

The robber coverage I learned is very similar to the same one that Bud Foster has run at Virginia Tech for a long time. We faced a plethora of run heavy 2 back teams then so we were looking for a way to be better versus the run as we were not a good physical team at the time. Robber coverage ended up being that answer for us.

I like Robber coverage versus 21 and 20 personnel mainly. Whether its slot, split gun or pro- I, we have run it versus double TE as well buts its a little tougher because play action with four verticals can be tough versus that formation.  In this post I’am gonna talk about Pro Slot because the reason we started running robber was because of this formation.

First I will talk about our fun fits because we run this coverage to shut down the run first and foremost.  So I will show you our run responsibilities (DIAGRAM #1)
Robber Run Fits
Our run fits will not change a bunch from our cover 3 base run fits, just little slight adjustments. The DL’s and LB’s will still be spill players meaning they will attack and control the inside half of their gap or blocker to force the ball carrier to bounce outside.

We will also now align our strong safety 1×5 outside of #2 removed. We like this in robber because with our FS now being a fast fit alley player on run we can widen our force player to really keep the ball from getting outside, and it helps neutralize bubble and tunnel screens.

Our FS is now playing what is commonly called a robber technique he will flat foot read on the snap of football. On an run read he will look to be the alley player right now. He will become the 9th man in box immediately rather in Cover 3 or Cover 1 where he has to be a step slower versus the run because he is the middle field player.

Our CB’s will be secondary force players they will be very slow to the run making sure it is not pass first. Once they read run they will look to force the ball carrier to stay inside not letting him get to the sideline. Meaning they will be outside leverage on a blocker and the ball carrier.

Now lets get into our pass responsibilities. (DIAGRAM #2) Robber can be good versus most passing concepts you will get in 21 and 20 personnel as most offenses have limited concepts to chose from the formations in these personnel groupings.
Robber Pass Resp
The easiest job is the Mike and Will linebackers they are hook/curl players who only have to wall off any inside route of #2 if they have no #2 threat inside they can free up and be true hook/curl players reading the QB eyes.

In the secondary lets start with our CB’s because they have the most complicated job in robber, they will be deep half players like in cover 2.  Now if the have 2 Wr’s to their side they will look to midpoint the WR’s and stay on top of both of them. If both of them are vertical (8yds up field) the CB will lean on #1 and take him man to man. If the CB’s only have one WR to his side he can play tighter and really lean on #1 as that is his only vertical threat.

Our FS will play a robber technique he will read the #2 WR. IF only pass responsibility is he will take #2 vertical and it will turn into man to man. If #2 is not vertical he will look to rob #1 especially a post route by #1 our any deep crossing routes.

Our weak safety and strong safety will be curl/flat players as they will look to wall off and carry any inside route by #1 inside under 8 yards. They will also have what we call the swing of #3 a common concept people have used to try and beat us in this coverage is double slant with running back in the flats (DIAGRAM #3)
Robber - DBL Slant Flat Combo
At first glance after the route distribution this is how we should be matched up. Problem is when people run these type of concepts they are more for picking purposes than anything else. #1 on the slant will run the slant at the curl/flat defender who is strong safety here trying to pick him off to keep him from being able to break to the flats when he should.  When executed properly by an offense its an easy pitch and catch throw for a quarterback and an easy 4-6 yard gain for the offense.

That brings me to my next point ANYTHING you do in football is going to have strengths and weaknesses the key is knowing what they both are so you can make adjustments accordingly to how people are trying to attack you. This  is strictly a run based coverage in our defense that we only play it when we feel we need to get a 9th man in the box right now. This is not something you would base out of in my opinion.

Once again thanks for checking out my post and enjoy the few robber clips I could find below. These clips were hard to find because its been about 3 seasons since I have ran any robber coverage