The Concept Of “Flip” Coverage

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By Ryan McCartney, Associate Head Coach & Defensive Coordinator, Seymour (Ind.) High School

In most cases at the high school level, coaches keep cornerbacks on opposite sides of the field. Even against a team in 21 personnel with a twins look, coaches will have one CB play vs. No. 1 to the twins while the other CB will play vs. the tight end backside. Why? Your cornerbacks are your best pure pass defenders.

Why keep a player who is an above-average pass defender on the backside of twins to play in space vs. a TE, or worse, at the line vs. a blocking TE? To avoid this dilemma, in the 4-2-5 we use a concept called “Flip.” This alerts the backside corner to cover No. 2 to the twins side and has our strong safety (more physical run-stopper) to align vs. the backside TE.

Flip Philosophy

By moving the backside corner to the front side to play vs. a slot can only increase your chances of defending the passing game with a positive outcome. Whether you play Robber with the free safety and allow that adjusted corner to play window-to-flat – or you decide to play a Cover 3 concept where he becomes your flat defender – you have options.

DIAGRAM 1: Flip Coverage

We would much rather have a cornerback play in space or play press man vs. a slot receiver than have our taller, more physical safety in that position.

Be careful, though. You are also putting your shifted cornerback into a position to be the “force player” against a run his way (specifically against jet sweep or option or toss). He may not be your best tackler, so you will want to work on leveraging the field with this person. If you’d rather have a FS become the force player or the inside backer to his side – we use a “HIP” call along with the accompanying and gesture to make sure players are on the same page.  This call allows our corner to be more aggressive against the run by coming from space right into the backfield against a run read (he would aim for mesh point if possible). By doing so, you are allowing a better open-field tackler to leverage the field, which he would be more apt to do.

Playing The Pass (To) And The Run (Away)

Ultimately, the decision to move your cornerback to the twins side is to help in coverage.  You are still in a three-over-two alignment and can run all of your cover schemes. Teams that align in this formation are oftentimes preying on cornerbacks that sit to the outside of a TE – hoping to run at the smaller player and get bigger bodies in front of him. Now, with the “Flip” call, you are putting a much bigger body to the TE side and playing fire with fire.

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