ITP Glossary: Robber Technique

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From yankee concept to veteran minimum salary benefit, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.

Robber Technique

Robber technique is used by pass defenders as part of another, man-zone blend of coverage techniques. Most often deployed with Cover 1, the robber is most often a safety moving from pre-snap positioning indicating another coverage toward the line of scrimmage in the middle of the field, attempting to disrupt crossing, slant, in and dig routes. By moving at or just after the snap, the goal is to disguise the defenders intentions and hopefully confuse the quarterback into making a throw into a congested area.Robber Technique Diagram

The Philadelphia Eagles have a 3-2-6 dime package on the field, showing Cover 2 in the secondary with press man technique. But at the snap, the defense rolls this into Cover 1 Robber, dropping safety Walter Thurmond down into the box in robber technique:NFLReview4WashingtonPlay3Still3

Washington‘s Kirk Cousins takes the snap and initially looks to the right, before coming back to Pierre Garcon on the dig route:

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The QB just manages to squeeze this throw in between the crashing Thurmond and cornerback E.J. Biggers (#38), who was responsible for Garcon in man coverage.

One of the primary benefits of the single high safety and robber technique underneath is the cornerbacks have the luxury of playing outside leverage, funneling wide receivers inside to the robber/safety help.

Disguising Robber Technique

Against the St. Louis Rams, the Arizona Cardinals deploy their 3-3-5 package in the game, and blitz, sending six defenders after Nick Foles. Safety Deone Bucannon (#20) drops off the line of scrimmage into a robber position, while the other defenders play man coverage across the board:NFLReview4RamsPlay4Still2

The blitz pressures Foles, but doesn’t get home, giving the quarterback enough time to pump fake and find Tavon Austin on the slant route:

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From this angle, you can see the reason Foles pump fakes: Bucannon drops off the line of scrimmage – right under the slant route:

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The robber technique forces the QB to double-clutch, and then execute a throw hoping Austin gets to the spot. The receiver does, pulling in the pass and diving into the end zone for the score.

Never See ‘Em Coming

In this game from 2014, the Minnesota Vikings show Cover 2 with their nickel personnel. At the snap of the ball they roll into a Cover 1 look with Harrison Smith (#22) playing robber technique. As you watch this play, focus on Smith’s movements:

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Smith sees St. Louis Rams quarterback Austin Davis staring down tight end Jared Cook like a bird dog, and makes a fantastic break on the ball. Smith steps in front of Cook, secures the interception, and returns it 81 yards for a touchdown.

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Mark Schofield & Dave Archibald contributed to this entry. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield. Follow Dave on Twitter @davearchie.

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