Taking STEAL Coverage to the next level
MQ details FAVRE 2-STEAL & explains why every modern defense needs it.
The STEAL concept has been a system for split-field coverage teams to take the weak side or boundary Safety and “steal” him in coverage on the other side of the field. In the simplest terms, the defense is creating a Half-Field Zone concept, flooding the passing strength, and playing man on the backside. In the diagram below, a traditional Air Raid split-back Gun formation is shown below.
To the passing strength, the defense will play a 2-Read or Cover 2 concept. Unlike basic split-field coverage, the front side Safety (CS) doesn’t have to carry the vertical of #2, opting to play outside leverage. Playing outside leverage is excellent against teams that like to run Y-Corner, where the #2 WR runs an out-breaking route. The weak Safety (DS) will POACH or ROB any vertical by the #2 WR.
Related Content: Defending the Air Raid with “Steal” Coverage
The coverage was designed to eliminate the Deep Cross in Y-Over and leverage the front side Safety against the Corner in Y-Corner. On the backside of the coverage, the Will and boundary CB (BC) are locked on their WR. At the snap of the ball, the DS will shuffle into the middle of the field, reading the departure of #2. The DS will collect any Over route or Dig. The CS is now able to work to #1. One concept from the Y-Cross tree is the Double Post or Mills concept.
STEAL coverage allows the defense to CONE/double the #1 WR and “trap” the Over route. As the QB sees the Field Safety work to the mid-point, he will assume the middle of the field is open (especially in a 2x2 set). The Boundary Safety will slide into the MOF and intercept the Dig or Over route. Versus 3x1 formations, the STEAL Safety can POACH the #3 WR similar to how defenses run Solo coverage.
To take this coverage to the next level, the defense can use it alongside a field Creeper (FAVRE) and trigger a throw to the Slot. Most offenses are running more in-breaking routes and moving away from the WR screen game in their RPOs. The Slant is a much more viable option and higher percentage through. Combined with play-action, and the Slot can easily adjust to the depth of the ILB. All the QB has to do is throw to space.
The beauty of STEAL coverage is in its fluidity. A defense can “steal” any part it wants to. Playing on the recent trend of in-breaking RPOs, it is easy to see why STEAL coverage has been a nice change-up for defenses running split-field coverage. The defense is baiting the QB to throw right where they are going to rob the coverage.
In a basic FAVRE concept, the Sam or field overhang will insert off the edge on a contain rush. The Jack or EDGE away from the field will drop into coverage (below). Creepers are a great way to bring pressure on an offense but hold coverage integrity. Below, the Mike is replacing the Ni in coverage.
As more offenses begin to base in Y-off or Two-back formations, the ability to STEAL the seam to the Slot is crucial. Since the BS will now assume the role of the Ni/Sam, the Mike can focus squarely on the box. Building the coverage this way feeds into the read for the QB. The defense also has a coverage man taking the seam if the Slot was to run a vertical. Away from the pressure, the Jack can now CUT #1, creating an inverted 2 look. FAVRE 2-STEAL is a great change-up to combat an RPO-heavy team that features Slants or verticals from the Slot. The double on #1 is a bonus, along with the extra eyes on the box.
Related Content: The Favre Path