Bump and run technique is used by defensive backs to disrupt wide receivers, as well as the timing of the pass from the quarterback, as soon as the WR starts their release. The defensive back will work to use their body to force the receiver to change their release off the line of scrimmage and then will use their hands to ‘bump’ the receiver, further affecting the release. The defensive back should then work to remain parallel to the line of scrimmage during that phase. Once the receiver gets into their route stem, the defensive back should stay in their hip pocket, thus ‘running’ with them.
The goal for defensive backs is disrupting the release and initial route stem of the receiver, ideally by matching release angles with body positioning and landing hand(s) on the receiver’s chest. It is important to not lunge or it could affect the defensive back’s balance and allow the wideout to quickly get behind the defense after the snap.
Defensive backs must be able to turn and run with the receiver after the bump. Fluid hips are an especially important trait for a bump and run corner. When turning, the defensive back should execute a man turn, by rotating their upper body toward the same side as the receiver. If the defensive back is in zone coverage, they could be taught to execute a zone turn where they have their back to the line of scrimmage with their eyes on the quarterback. When the receiver turns to look for the ball in mid-air, the defensive back should turn their body to slide away from where the receiver’s arms are extended.
Below is an example of good bump and run technique. The Oakland Raiders are facing a 3rd-and-4 with 3:19 left in a 2016 game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Raiders trail 21-13 with the ball on the Chiefs 36-yard line. The sequence to identify features Raiders receiver Amari Cooper (#89) and Chiefs cornerback Terrance Mitchell (#39) at the top of the screen.
The Chiefs are in Cover 2 Man and Mitchell is showing press over Cooper. The Raiders wideout releases outside while Mitchell commits outside. Mitchell gives a slight lunge when he extends his hands but is able to bump Cooper and slow him down on his stem. Mitchell quickly turns his hips outside to stay with Cooper and forces him close to the boundary.
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This next play provides an example of poor bump and run technique from the same game. The Raiders are facing a 2nd and 10 with 1:55 left in the first half with the ball on the Chiefs 28-yard line with Kansas City ahead 21-3. The sequence to identify is at the top of the screen featuring the same players as the previous example.
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Once again, the Chiefs are in Cover 2 Man and Mitchell is showing press over Cooper. At the snap, Cooper hesitates on his release before heading inside. Mitchell doesn’t mirror Cooper when attempting to bump, causing him to lung and be off balance. Cooper then maneuvers away from Mitchell’s attempted bump and is able to get open and makes the catch close to a first down.
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Derek Benson wrote this entry. Follow Derek on Twitter @derekdonald91.
Film courtesy of NFL Game Pass.