Bump and Run or Press Coverage?

11 Jul

press (flickr.com-Eric Wolfe)

Bump and Run or “press” coverage, once considered a high-risk technique, has become a basic fixture of modern pass coverage. Defensive backs who know the technique feel safer bumping and running with a man than covering him on from an off position.

The technique can be employed in any kind of pass defense on any level of play. A player doesn’t have to have superior talent and great speed to play it. It’s more important to understand the parameter of the specific coverage and the WR split.

One season, Kansas State had four new starters in its secondary – a freshman and sophomore at the comers and a sophomore and a junior at the safety positions. All had good athletic talent, but no exceptional speed and little or no experience.

By playing some form of a man defense 75% of the time, the Wildcats led the Big Eight and ranked seventh in the nation in pass defense with an efficiency rating of 94.3. They allowed only seven TD passes and a 45% completion percentage, while intercepting 13 passes and breaking up 40 others.

The reasons to commit to the Bump and Run philosophy:

1. It disrupts the timing between the QB and the receiver, giving your rush time to reach the QB.

2. It destroys the route stems of receiver, causing spacing problems in the pattern.

3. It eliminates the short quick game (takes the air out between the receiver and DB), prohibiting easy throws and hot receivers. In short, forcing the QB to throw a perfect ball.

4. It disrupts the receiver’s concentration. The receivers must concentrate on new releases off the LOS while continually battling the DB’s hands. This constant pressure on the receivers takes away from his concentration on the ball.

As with anything in football, all good things start with the stance:

press coverage (flickr.com-brookenovak)

To play this technique, set the feet parallel to the LOS and inside the width of the shoulders, with the feet, hips and back off the LOS. Crowd the line by dropping the shoulders, hanging the arms in front of the knees, and slightly flexing the knees, then flex the fingers and hands to emphasize strong hands.

Since the most important aspect of the stance is to have great balance for lateral movement, place your weight over the balls of the feet, set your heels down lightly, and focus your eyes on the bottom of the opponent’s numbers.

Once in your stance, have a coach or receiver try to push you off-balance. If you are in a good stance, you will hold solidly.


As you walk up into this bump position, you must check out two factors to determine your shade on the receiver and the technique to use on him. First, is the WR split in the formation? You must have a strong idea of what routes the WR likes to run from the formation.

160711 - press coverage (inside shade)Second, you must understand the structure of the defense and the positioning of the deep safeties for help on the receiver. As a rule, you should shade the receiver away from your help safety. As the receiver splits away from your free safety, you must move your shade to head up; or, if the receiver moves farther away from your help safety, you may even move to an inside shade.

You must always understand the range of your help safeties. This is determined by the WR split in the formation in relation to hashmarks, numbers, and positioning safety. Other times, you may position the help safety over the top of certain personnel on your team, or over special personnel of your opponent, always looking to protect any mismatches in personnel.

By positioning a safety directly in the area of one or two bump players, a coach may give them some flexibility to change up shades on the receivers and to use (hard) aggressive bump techniques such as the two-hand jam, quick jab, or mirror catch.

Whenever one safety is positioned in the middle post area or in one sector, the bump players will be required to determine their shade on the receivers, depending on the free (safety) player’s ability to play over the top of the receivers with respect to their splits.

Once this is determined, the bump player will understand what WR routes to cut off away from the free player and what routes to squeeze or undercut to his free player. This will usually require a (softer) less aggressive bump technique, such as the bounce, step off, or fake jab.

The bump player who plays a receiver outside the range of the free player will have to use an even softer technique. He will have to move his shade from away from the free player to head up or even to the other side of the receiver.

The keys to success in the bump and run are understanding where your help is and is not and what WR routes you must cut off, depending on the man’s split and position in each formation.

Cut-off Techniques:

160711 - Cut-Off Technique

The most important part of this technique is getting the feet and hips off the LOS on the snap or on the WR’s initial movement by bouncing the feet or stepping back with one foot.

Once you are off the LOS, you must balance the feet back up and keep them active, with your weight over the balls of the feet for lateral movement. Keep your eyes on the bottom of the WR’s numbers; you want to mirror the release by opening your lead foot at a 45 [degrees] angle to the direction of the release. Once the feet are opened in this fashion, shoot the opposite arm for the bump. Shooting this arm allows you to keep your hip opened to run with the WR. You want to knock him off-balance on this release, stealing a step or two from him on his depth or destroying the spacing in this pattern.

DB_press coverage After you are opened and have shot for the bump, try to slide the opposite foot back in tight to the other or cross over with the opposite foot to be in position to run with the WR to cut off the outside release or pin the inside release.

In cutting off the outside release by leaning on the WR down the boundary, make sure to keep your eyes on him 15 to 20 yards, checking the chop of his feet for come-backs. Once the WR has committed to the fade, hook the WR with your elbow and lean him into the boundary with your back and elbow. If the WR stays inside the numbers on his fade, you should continue to look outside for the WR and play the fade, looking out to the boundary. There is not a definite role in this situation. You (DB) must feel and see the ball thrown inside or outside of the WR and flip your head to adjust to the placement of the throw.

While pinning the inside release, you (DB) want to ride the top side of the WR’s outside shoulder with your chest. This will flatten out the post and keep him from flagging back outside. You must then keep your vision low to see the chop of the WR’s feet to squeeze and run down slants and square ins.

On inside routes, it is important to stay on the deep side of the WR until you know there is a free player over the top of you. Once the free player is in position over you, it’s okay to undercut his inside route. If you undercut the WR too soon, you will allow him to straighten his route back up and run away from your free player.

Key note: On any wide flat release, do not run flat with the WR. Be sure to take an intersecting angle that will put you in position to get on the top side once the WR does straighten up and go vertical.

Trail Technique:

You (DB) can play a more aggressive bump because of your safety help over the top. You should be in a solid bump position on the snap and can sit on the LOS to mirror the WR or attack him with a quick jab. You want to keep the WR on the LOS as long as possible. Once he releases, you want to run underneath his hip to the side on which he released. Most receivers will break their routes off to the side they released to. You should be in position to touch the WR’s hip on that side – again checking the WR’s foot chop for breaks while running the same route as the WR.

Key Components of Press Coverage (bump and run):

1. Confidence (attitude); you must believe in technique.

2. Competitiveness. (Finish the Play.) You must not always be in perfect position on the WR, but the bottom line is all that counts. Make the play.

3. Mental Checks: Understand the defense and assigned help within that defense. Anticipate WR’s route from his split and position in the formation.

4. Initial steps: (feet before hands). You bump and run with your feet.

160711 - press coverage (2-hand jam)



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