Thursday, July 3, 2008

Why 7 on 7?...Defensive Backs and Linebackers

This is the third of a series of articles about reasons why teams should participate in 7-on-7 football during the summer. This article discusses the benefits for defensive players participating in 7-on-7 competitions.

Although it is evident that 7-on-7 is a necessity for passing teams, some people wonder why a dominant rushing team like Little Rock Central or West Memphis would participate in what some may view as simply a passing competition. There are many reasons, but one of the main reasons is to develop their defensive players against the pass. The biggest advantages for defensive players participating in 7-on-7 is learning and practicing their coverages, defending live plays, and gaining an understanding of what offenses are trying to do against them.

There are only so many coverages that can be run in football, so defensive 7-on-7 is limited in many aspects since defenders are not blitzing and covering for blitzes. However, 7-on-7 does give defensive backs and linebackers the opportunity to practice each of their coverages. It also gives them repetitions for situational coverage. For example, a coach may call cover three or four on 3rd and 15. The linebackers will learn that it’s okay to give up an 8-yard route in that situation They’ll also learn that playing a coverage on 2nd and 10 will be defended differently than a 3rd and 2, regardless of the coverage.

One of the quandaries that coaches are faced with is how to practice against “game speed.” Even when players are going full speed in practice with first team offense against a first team defense, the intensity of “game speed” is not present. However, competition helps bring out the intensity and adrenaline of a game. 7-on-7 competitions allow defensive players to see a full speed play develop with receivers attacking their zone and having to break on the football. Obviously, this does not replicate a real football game, but it is great practice for pass defense for a secondary and linebackers. In fact, just about every team has a “skeleton” drill, which is basically the same as 7-on-7, that they incorporate in their practices each week in preparation for Friday nights.

Possibly the biggest benefit that defenders, particularly deep defenders, receive from 7-on-7 is an understanding of how a passing offense is trying to attack them. If a safety is in cover three and knows that a team will try to run two verticals on each side of him, he can be aware and get depth without committing to either side. He is in a bind as it is, but if he can delay the read for the quarterback, he will give his rushers more time to get pressure. A deep-third cornerback on a multiple receiver side will come to understand that if the outside receiver runs a 10-yard out in front of him, then he must be aware of the #2 or #3 receiver running a deep route behind him. All of this knowledge and practice doesn’t mean these defenders will be able to stop these combination routes, but it does give them some forward thought to anticipate what the offense is trying to do, and they can do things to make it more difficult on an offense or even make more plays based on what they’ve experienced.

Defending the pass is one of the most difficult things to do in football. That is why we are seeing more spread offenses forming and becoming successful, and that is why 7-on-7 for rushing teams is becoming more common.

As we continue in our series, we will discuss reasons it is good for the development of a coach to be involved in 7-on-7 football.

1 comment:

  1. Are there more than the 3 articles from this blogger?