What Does A DB Do In Football

Between offense, defense and special teams, there are a ton of different positions on a football team. It can be tough for football fans to keep track of what all these players do. This is why this guide is on hand to break down exactly what DBs do in football.

In football, a DB is short for defensive back this position is primarily responsible for stopping the opposing team from completing passes. These players also play a smaller role in stopping the opposing team from rushing the ball.

Narrowing down exactly what defensive backs do on the field can be difficult because this position group includes cornerbacks, and safeties and these players tend to have different responsibilities on a football field.

Below we are going to break down exactly what each position inside in the DB position group does.

Cornerback Responsibilities

Passing Defense

In terms of passing defense the cornerback is the most important position. These players will match up with wide receivers and tight ends in order to stop them from receiving passes.

Cornerbacks which make up a large portion of DBs will play both man and zone coverage. This means on some plays they will be tasked with covering a specific player while on others they will cover a specific area on the field.

Cornerbacks will usually line up near the sideline in order to cover wide receivers. This isolates them from most rushing plays which make their ability to cover receivers quite important.

Running Defense

Cornerbacks do play a role in the run game though it is not a very large one. Since these players line up so far away from the formation they are not usually involved in running plays.

Though when a running play goes outside the tackle and close to the sideline the cornerbacks may have to make a play.

On running plays the cornerbacks will have to fight through blocks of wide receivers. When the run comes to the outside cornerbacks will either attempt to make a tackle or try and force the runner to the middle of the field.

Since cornerbacks are relatively small players they often have trouble tackling running backs in the open field. This is why defenses do not often rely on them in the run game.

Safety Responsibilities

The safety position is similar to the cornerback position though there are some major differences.

Passing Defense

When it comes to stopping the pass safety plays an important role. Safeties will often play deeper into the defensive backfield in order to stop long passes.

The safety will also play man-to-man defense on some occasions. In most cases, this will be done by the strong safety which often matches up with the tight end.

The free safety will usually play deeper into the defensive backfield and will help cornerbacks if their receiver runs a deep route.

Due to this deep coverage safeties are the type of DBs that often generate a fair amount of PBUs and interceptions.

This position is vital to stopping the opponent’s passing attack.

Run Defense

Similar to cornerbacks these players are more prominent in pass defense. Though when looking to shut down the run the safeties can play a larger role.

As we stated earlier safeties tend to play deeper into the defensive backfield. But when looking to shut down the run the defense may ask the safeties to play much closer to the line of scrimmage.

This way when they identify it is a running play the safeties will be able to quickly step up and get involved in the play.

The strong safety is the position which tends to be more involved in stopping the run. Since these players tend to watch the tight end they will often line up on the strong side of the formation.

Since teams tend to run towards the strong side this results in the strong safety being more involved in the play.

For this reason, you will find strong safeties tend to be larger than free safeties.

Where do DBs lineup in football?

As we stated earlier in the article the DB position group includes both cornerbacks and safeties.

Below we are going to cover where these players line up in the defensive formation.


cornerback position lined up on defense

As you can see in the image above cornerbacks line up on near the sideline on both sides of the field.

The reason these players lineup so far from the formation is because they are covering the wide receivers.

If the receivers move closer to the formation the cornerbacks will often move with them.

On some occasions, teams will also bring on a fifth DB known as a nickel corner. This nickel corner will line up closer to the middle of the field and will often be responsible for covering the slot receiver.


full safety and free safety lining up

As mentioned earlier in this article there are two different safety positions on the field. Those positions are free safety and strong safety which are represented by the acronyms FS and SS.

These two safety positions are both considered defensive backs and line up the furthest back of any players in the defense.

This is because these positions have the primary purpose of stopping long passes from being completed.

The position of safeties is often going to change depending on the formation that the defense is using.

On some occasions, safeties will play closer to the line of scrimmage. This is more common for the strong safety when they are looking to provide more assistance in the run game.

That is all on DBs in football if you want to learn what a DB is in football or learn what tight ends do check out some of our articles.

Leave a Comment