Learning to read the defenses is a continuous on the job quarterback training process I will discuss in 3 phases, the film room, on the field and watching football training videos pertaining to defenses and quarterback training strategies.
The Film Room
Study your opponents most recent game films. Here's what to look for:
- Study what type defenses they run, is it 3-5-3 a 4-3 defense?
- Identify their defensive tendencies, when do they stack the box, when do they blitz, what kind of blitzes do the use, how do they use the safeties on blitzes?
Look for individual player tendencies. I once knew a quarterback/place kicker, who every time he was going to pass, he licked his fingers as he approached either the line of scrimmage or as he lined up for a fake field goal or two point conversion.
Defensive players and units are no different. Many players and units will telegraph their defensive strategies by the way they line up. When in the film room look for these idiosyncrasies--they are there.
During the Game
First off, locate the safeties, where they are on the field and how many safeties are in the game as you approach the line of scrimmage. Safeties are the key to any defensive schemes you will face.
- If the defense shows two safeties deep, each on the hash mark, this indicates a cover 2 zone defense. With each safety responsible for half the field, the center of the field might be open for the tight end or slot back or use a running play.
- If the safeties are rotated to one side or moving towards the line of scrimmage, the quarterback may be seeing a blitz or man-to-man coverage. With both safeties on the same side of the field, the quarterback can have a wide receiver in in single coverage.
- If a safety lines up on a tight end, expect all the defensive backs to be playing man-to-man.
- Only one safety in the game indicates a cover three defense, the field divided in 3rds.
Quarterbacks should also read the corners. If they are playing close to the receivers, this usually indicates a zone defense. If the corners are playing off the receivers this indicates a man-to-man defense.
Look for mismatches. There will be times in a game where the offense has favorable mismatches with the defense. Exploit this situation, get the ball to your best receivers on the mismatch.
High school and middle schools are less likely to rotate line backers like the college ranks. When a new defender comes into the game, immediately test him. There is a reason he is not the starter.
Football Training Videos
Quarterbacks, does it make sense to study the same football training videos studied by defenses? There are many quality defense videos on the market made by successful defensive coaches.
Would studying these football training videos help you improve your football skills, reading the defense?Find a football camp or league near you.
Todd Krueger is a former NFL quarterback. He runs a youth football/quarterback coaching website called PlayQB.com.