Changing the Picture: 2-Roll Coverage
MQ breaks down a popular way teams are changing the picture post-snap from MOFC to MOFO.
Over the past few seasons, there has been a lot of talk about coverage presentation and contours. Primarily, the discussion has been over the influx of two-high alignments in the NFL. Starting with the Rams and Broncos in 2020, the NFL has seen a steady increase in the usage of two Safety contours. Former Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio is the original architect of the systems that dominate the two-high philosophy. But that doesn’t mean they run Quarters.
At the college level, the use of Quarters as a way to stop the Spread has been well documented. In the early ‘10s, defenses began relying on Quarters to cap vertical routes and combat the QB run games off Zone Read. As an extension of the Triple Option, the Zone Read forced defenses to play in space and hold to option principles. As the Zone Read and the Spread became more popular, offenses evolved to use RPOs that utilized quick screens on the perimeter, a modern-day Triple.
Related Content: Defending the Zone Read
Fast forward to today, and offenses have become much more complex. Play-action and passing on early downs have proven to be effective ways to stay ahead of the chains. As more defenses have moved to “lighter” personnel groupings, offenses have begun to stockpile hybrid players like TEs or “power” Slots that muscle out smaller defenders. We have seen this story before with the Tampa 2, but this time around, Spread principles have won out. We aren’t going back.
Offenses now use personnel packages to get defenses into predictable groupings. For example, at the NFL level, if an offense puts a 12 pers. package on the field, the defense has to decide if they will play their “Base,” which is usually a 3-4, or stick with their Nickel 2-4-5 (Peso). OCs sit back and let the DC decide how to align and pick from a well-curated play call list.
If the defense goes with their base 3-4, the offense will use formations to manipulate matchups, getting their hybrid players into space. A great example is San Fransisco, where the 49ers can use FB Kyle Juszczyk as a backfield blocker or a WR. It is not unlikely that the FB aligns in a Slot position and runs a Slot-Fade against a slower FB. TEs like the 49ers’ George Kittle or the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce present issues when other “blocking” backs are on the field.
If the defense decides to stay in a Nickel package, the offense will mash the smaller unit with larger bodies. Each week, there is a constant cat-and-mouse game as each side tries to get an edge or a better matchup. For teams like the Broncos, Chargers, and Rams, which all come from the Staley branch of the Fangio tree, the use of a Penny Front that aligns in a 5-1 has been designed to mesh the base and hybrid concepts.