What Is Bump-And-Run Coverage In Football?

What is bump-and-run coverage in football? Bump and run coverage is when a defensive backs uses his hands to throw the timing of a receivers route off. If you take a look at some of the better quarterback-wide...

If you take a look at some of the better quarterback-wide receiver combos in football today, you will see that timing plays a huge part in their success. Even if the quarterback and the wide receiver possess great individual talents, if the chemistry is not there between the pair, it's going to be tough to complete many passes.

One way that defenses attempt to rattle the timing of a pass play is with simple bump and run coverage. Bump and run coverage is the attempt by a defensive player to adjust a wide receiver's pass route by jamming him at the line of scrimmage. In other words, the defensive player uses his hands to push or bump the receiver as to hopefully throw his timing off from the route.

Donovan Rose was a defensive back in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins. And during his time as a football player and now as a defensive backs coach at Hampton University, Rose has seen, performed and taught several defensive backs the secrets to bump and run coverage.

"With bump-and-run coverage you want the defensive back to put their hands on a receiver and give him less room to work with," Rose said. "A lot of times offenses like passes that are more of timing type passes, so most receivers would rather have a guy play off so he can work his route."

Defensive backs normally line up in two types of coverage. The first coverage is press. And in press coverage, the defensive back is usually within two yards of the wide receiver at the line of scrimmage. Most defensive backs will play bump and run coverage in this style.

The other formation for defensive backs is with cushion. When a defensive back gives a wide receiver cushion, he is usually five, ten and sometimes maybe even 15 yards back off the wide receiver.

Now, playing cushion coverage has its advantages and disadvantages. For one, with the defensive back playing so far back, it's hard to get a big play deep over his head.
But one of the disadvantages of giving a wide receiver cushion is that you allow him a free release off the line of scrimmage. And with a free release, the wide receiver and quarterback are able to run the play without any disturbances.

Again, bump and run coverage is all about messing up an offenses timing. "When you press you never know what type of bump you are going to get and that bump could mess up a receiver's timing," said Rose. "So if you disrupt his timing and the quarterback looks at someone who is really doing a good job of pressuring his receiver, the quarterback is going to hesitate. And so now, the quarterback doesn't know when to throw because that defensive back may be all in his receiver's throat."

One concern with playing bump and run coverage is the defensive pass interference penalty. It's important to remember as a defensive football player that you can not put your hands on the wide receiver after he has gone more than five yards down the field. Also, having good defensive backs that can play good bump and run coverage will allow the defense the ability to do different things.

"So if you have a defense where your corners are good pressers, that has a tendency of messing up the timing of an offense," said Rose. "So if you have a corner back that can put pressure on a guy and make a quarterback hesitate, and then if you send a little more pressure as a defense, you have that much better of a chance of getting to the quarterback."

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