What’s good sports gamers and welcome to Part 3 of our defensive tutorial series, where today we dive into Cover 3 and the new zone assignments attached to it…let’s get to it
Cover 3 is the most neutral coverage out of the entire defensive family and is a big reason why it’s probably been the most often called regular zone coverage in Madden for a while. A basic Cover 3 is based around 4 pass rushers 4 underneath and 3 deep defenders, although there is a few cover 3 plays that rush 3 with 5 underneath.
Responsibility wise, The 3 deep defenders will split the field into 3rds. The 2 outside defenders (usually a safety and a linebacker or nickel corner) will majority of the time run the basic curl/flat assignment, which defends the intermediate routes first and foremost and attack anything short once it’s thrown. And if they’re not running a curl/flat, the outside defenders will turn to the new seam/flat assignment that’s found in Cover 3 Match Press and Cover 3 Buzz Match.
When you see this it means the outside defender will convert to man coverage on any route the receiver runs if the defenders area isn’t threatened (and a nice side note is it will also convert the outside corner on that side’s assignment to man as well, so it can take care of basic 2 man route concepts pretty easily, or at least better than the curl/flat assignment outside defenders usually have, and if his area has more than 2 receivers in it the defender will play the soft flat of the seam/flat responsibility and the outside corner will cover his deep 3rd).
And lastly, the inside linebackers will run the normal hook/curl zone assignments which protects the short and intermediate stuff in their area.
Because there’s only 3 defenders assigned deep responsibilities, Cover 3 allows one safety usually the strong safety to come down into the box and assumed the curl/flat or seam/flat assignment to aid in the run game and short passing game.
While the more agile smart safety plays deep and if he’s not the best athlete in the secondary he needs to nearly be because he’s responsible for anything down the middle and to help defend any deep balls thrown down the sidelines.
This is the basic workings of a Cover 3. Now of course there are different versions of a lot of coverages and Cover 3 is no exception, so the deep safety and the guy who comes down won’t always be the same either. Cover 3 Buzz has a safety come down and assume the role of a linebacker with the hook/curl zone assignment while the linebacker now plays the role of the in the box safety. So an easy way to look at it is the safety and linebacker just switched assignments.
Cover 3 Buzz can get you a lot of pass breakups and interceptions because players sometimes don’t pick up on the safety dropping down into the area right away. And lastly Cover 3 Cloud has the safety and outside corner switch responsibilities, so while you now have both safeties playing deep it’s still a 3 deep coverage defense.
Cover 3 alignment wise is setup to stop the run with the extra defender close to the line of scrimmage and relies on having an excellent deep safety to get away with stacking the box and while having a dominant corner is always a plus you can get away pretty easily with having subpar talent out there as they aren’t asked to do much but mostly defend deep passes.