Today we look at the Cover 4’s purpose, strengths and how the new zone coverages added to it in Madden NFL 17 help it out.
Cover 4 plays consist of 4 deep defenders – who each cover a quarter of the field – and 3 or 4 defenders underneath. The outside edge defenders will always play the new quarter/flat assignment when you pick Cover 4. This means they man up any inside receivers whose route breaks to the outside and will play the flat and funnel any in breaking routes to the inside linebackers. The inside linebacker’s assignment depends on how many inside linebackers the play has. When you rush 3, there will be 2 inside linebackers and when you rush 4 there’s only one. Cover 4 isn’t a prevent defense, but there’s a reason it’s been a favorite base coverage for a few years.
The strength of Cover 4 is obviously the deep coverage, as it can handle pretty much any basic deep route combo due to the number of guys they have deep. Take 4 Verticals for example, Cover 4 has no trouble matching up to every single receiver. And receivers lined up on a side by themselves basically walk into a double team if they run a streak with the safety on that side, and the corner will pass the receiver off to the safety on any in breaking deep route like Posts.
Something many people don’t know is that Cover 4 is a pretty good run defense. The reason is the 2 deep safeties become active run defenders almost immediately on run plays, so it’s like you have 9 guys in the box. While those same 2 defenders are critical components of a 4 deep coverage on passing plays. In a sport where you need to be in position to defend as many things as possible, having that kind of versatility is huge.
And unlike it’s distant cousin Cover 2, Cover 4 forces you to beat it with short passes, so it’s perfect on 2nd and 3rd and longs or if your opponent likes to sling the ball deep constantly. Also, if you have a bunch of linebackers with high hit power you can make the best out of the coverage’s weakness by making opponent pay when they do go underneath.
Stay turned for our next article where we go over how to beat Cover 4 defenses.
Checkout our other articles in this series below: