As teams have moved to quick timing routes rushing the passer has lost its effectiveness to stop the pass because the ball is gone before any lineman or blitzer can get there. As a result defenses have moved away from putting pressure on the offensive line to putting pressure on the Wide Receivers. Defenses have begun to jam or press receivers on the line. The concept is that by pressing receivers on the line and stopping them from getting into their routes, they can disrupt the timing and reads of the quarterback. This has made it crucial for the modern receiver to be able to beat a press and get off of the line.
Beating Press Coverage- Receiver Line Release
One key concept that any receiver trying to beat the press needs to remember is that they are looking to get past the defender. As a result one of the best things the receiver can do is to wait and force the defender to make a move. After the defender makes his move it is relatively easy for the receiver to counter this move and get off the line. The best way the receiver can force the defender to make a move is by “burning his feet.” This is essentially taking two steps quickly in place. The result is that the defender will make a move and the receiver can now counter his action. While the receiver is taking these two steps he should be widening his base so that he can quickly go in whichever direction he needs to beat the defender.
Once the receiver has burned his feet should be looking to throw the defender off by faking him out. This is done in the Jab and Head step. Here the receiver should take a jab step opposite of the way he wants to go. While he is taking this small step with his lower body his head needs to also sell that he is planning on releasing that way. The effect of a good Jab and Head move is that the defender will open to the side the receiver is faking. This causes him to move the foot on the side the receiver wants to go forward and opens up a path for the receiver.
Once the defender has gotten out of position and stepped forward with the foot opposite of the step and jab, it’s time for the receiver to get by the defender. For this he will step with his go side foot and grab the tricep of the defender. The goal of his step is to create space for the rest of his body to get past the defender. While he is executing this step he will grab the tricep (ideally) of the defender and pull him opposite of where he the receiver is going while punching through with his opposite arm. The key here is to punch close to the hand that is grabbing the tricep. Many young receivers will attempt to swim over the shoulder pad of the defender. By trying to go over the defender the receiver has opened himself up and let the defender get his hands on the receiver’s body. By punching low and close to his opposite hand he does not give the defender a big surface area to attack.
Once the receiver has beaten the pressing defender off of the line his final step is to place himself between the defender and where the ball is going. This is referred to as “stacking” the defender. The concept is that if the receiver is able to successfully stack the defender, the only way for the defender to make a play on the ball is by going through the receiver which will result in a penalty.
Defenses press receivers as a way to throw off the timing of the passing game. It’s important that as an offense you have answers for this and can make them pay when they do press receivers.
(See Also) Receiver Route Running Technique
(See Also) Receiver Stalk Blocking Technique