One of the most popular offensive formations in modern offensive football is the Trips formation. This formation puts three receivers on one side of the field. By putting three receivers to one side of the field the defense is forced to adjust their coverage. Here is a look into Cover 3 Cloud Coverage vs Trips Formation:
Cover 3 Cloud Coverage | Zone Coverage
Many teams rely on one coverage to defend Trips and automatically check into this coverage whenever the offense lines up in a Trips formation. The major problem with this is that the offense now knows the pass coverage and can adjust their play and formation to attack the weak areas. Cover 3 Cloud is a great coverage for Trips but it’s important to have multiple coverages to keep the offense off guard.
From a broad perspective Cover 3 Cloud is going to be based around the same principles that make Cover 3 a staple of any defense. There will be three deep defenders that are responsible for a third of the field each. This is a safe coverage for any deep passes down the sideline but can be susceptible to two receivers running up the seam.
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The major strength of Cover 3 Cloud is the ability to stop the screen game to the trips side. In a traditional Cover 3 both Cornerbacks are responsible for covering the deep third on their side of the field. This leaves the flats vulnerable to the quick passing game. The Cloud tag will tell the Trips side Cornerback that he is now responsible for the Sideline Flat. This puts him in a perfect position to make the tackle on any Bubble or Jail screen in the flats.
The Trips side Safety will now be responsible for covering the deep third of the field on the Trips side. While he must align more towards the Trips than in traditional Cover 3, the length of the throw allows him to make up ground in the air and make a play on the ball if the ball is thrown to the #1 receiver on the sideline.
The Free Safety and the single side Cornerback will be responsible for the other two deep thirds. This leaves the Weak Linebacker responsible for the sideline flats away from the Trips.
The single receiver flat is the weak spot in the coverage because the Linebacker now has a pass and a run responsibility. One solution is to have the Cornerback use man coverage to shut the single receiver down. This can be dangerous because the Cornerback does not have much help over the top, but it can be effective for shutting down the quick game.
The key to defending the Trips formation is to have multiple coverages to present to the offense. Like any coverage, Cover 3 Cloud has some weak spots, but it can serve as a great change up to stop the screen and quick game to the trips side. It’s important to remember if the defense stays in one static coverage it allows the offense to dial up specific plays to beat the coverage so it’s vital that the defensive coordinator presents a dynamic picture that the offense can’t hone in on.
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