Football Xs & Os choosing the right defense

Q&A: Beating Press Coverage on a Slant Route

How do I get past press coverage on a slant/in route?”

Beating press coverage on a slant route is something that all receivers have struggled with at one time or another. Lining up against a physical corner who has established pre-snap inside leverage makes a successful inside slant difficult to pull off, but by committing to a fake and having a strong release at the top of the route anyone can win against man coverage.

slant route beat press coverage

The first step to beating your man in press coverage is to take away their leverage. Getting the DB’s hips turned to the outside is key, and the best way to effectively do that is with a diamond release. Giving a hesitation move as your first step and then selling the first few steps of your route laterally is the best way to get a corner to bite. When I say “selling the first few steps” I mean truly running through those first steps. A full commitment to running down field for three steps—rather than chopping your feet—is what will get him to bite. Of course, selling your defender on going outside is easier said than done, and is far easier to explain in words than to accomplish through practice. The best way to put it down as an answer to the question is to utilize your whole body in the release.

If you can effectively commit to faking your shoulders and eyes to the outside—making it look like you’re running a fade—while keeping your hips square, and in position to be explosive to the inside at the top of the release, you will have the best chance at beating the corner. If your first three steps are convincingly directed beyond your defender’s position, he will have to open up in order to keep you from beating him outside. That will create the separation you need to burn him inside and finish off a clean route. At the top of the release, when you break inside for the slant, it is absolutely crucial to keep your feet under your hips and to maintain a strong foundation. A DB’s first reaction to realizing they were beat is always going to be to engage contact. Keeping your base strong will allow you to dig through that contact and maintain your separation to the middle of the field.

Additionally, if you are struggling to master the diamond release, another way to beat press coverage on a slant route is with a negative step, or step-back release. The negative step is just a half yard step backwards as your first movement. It will create some separation and will allow you to start your route with space, essentially eliminating the defenders advantage in pressing you. The negative step will change your route from a three yard slant to a negative half-yard slant that starts from just behind the line of scrimmage. An effective way to beat press coverage for someone with slower feet.

See the videos below for visual breakdowns of the diamond release and negative step:

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