bagobonez wrote:In traditional Cover 2 schemes the free safety (FS) and strong safety (SS) have deep responsibilities, each guarding half of the field. The NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, and Detroit Lions run a variant of this defense called the Tampa 2.
Cover 2 can be run from any seven-man defensive fronts such as the 3-4 and the 4-3. (It is difficult to implement Cover 2 from an eight-in-the-box front, because the strong safety or someone replacing him is usually the eighth man. Various "underneath" coverage played by cornerbacks and linebackers may also be implemented. For example, Cover 2 Man means 2 safeties have deep responsibility while the cornerbacks and linebackers follow their offensive assignment in one-on-one coverage. The NFL's San Diego Chargers inherited a base Cover 2 Man 3-4 from Wade Phillips. Cover 2 can also be paired with underneath zone schemes: Cover 2 Zone refers to 2 safeties with deep responsibility but now the CBs and LBs drop back into specific coverage zones where they defend passes only in their assigned area.
Teams that play Cover 2 shells usually ascribe to the "bend-but-don't-break" philosophy, preferring to keep offensive players in front of them for short gains while limiting long passes. This is in stark contrast to a more aggressive Cover 1 type scheme which leaves the offensive team's wide receivers in single man-to-man coverage with only one deep helper. By splitting the deep field between two defenders, the defense can drastically reduce the number of long gains.
The main weakness of the Cover 2 shell occurs in the middle of the field between the safeties. The safeties attempt to gain width upon the snap of the ball to cover any long passes to quick wide receivers down the sideline. This movement creates a natural hole between the safeties that can be attacked. By sending a receiver (usually a tight end) into the hole, the offense forces the safety to make a decision: play the vulnerable hole in the middle of the field or help out on the wide receiver. The quarterback reads the safety's decision and decides on the best matchup (i.e. which mismatch is better--TE vs S or WR vs CB).
There's 3 weaknesses of the cover that can be exploited, there's the 10 yard area which you described between the safeties and corners, but the second one is going to be the middle deep between the two safeties. This is usually the tight end seam that usually takes advantage of this because the corners have to lock into the flats and release off their wideouts and the safties have to take them if they go deep down the sidelines. The other is the under the linebackers and safteies depending on who's blitzing and whatnot. You need to have very good pass rush linemen to execute well and force the QB to make a decision. Generally cover 2 defenses fair better in the INT department because it's more like playing centerfield in your zone, someone enters it you take them, they leave you watch the QB. Generally in the 3-4 there's going to be more zone blitz schemes where a guy drops out while another attacks the hole. They can be very effective with the personell, and you don't have to have playmaking DBs, just smart ones.
As far as what you considered the eight in the box, most of the time they will roll into a cover 3 which pits the FS and 2 DBs deep with LBs/SS playing the flats. This is one way to exploit cover 2's also is lineup even on both sides, then motion to move multiple players on e side like trips or bunch formations. Because cover 2 is very weak in that situation, it can either roll to cover 3 or a 2 deep with man coverage. It's more cerebral than just straight man because you have to pay attention to just about everything.
I played safety in a cover 2 scheme in HS and I loved it as a safety, shame we sucked on offense too much
Check out the playbooks on Madden or NCAA 08, those are the general basic plays of Cover two and can explain the responsibilities of each player. But there's more in depth and sneakiness to it because most teams that run the tampa 2 or cover 2 don't run it all the time