A corner blitz in football refers to a play in which a cornerback rushes the quarterback in an attempt to tackle him before he throws the ball.
This play is unique because the cornerback position rarely rushes the opposing team’s quarterback. Cornerbacks are usually responsible for covering wide receivers and making sure they do not catch any passes.
Since corner blitzes are so rare they often catch the offense off guard. This paired with the fact a corner blitz comes from the side means that the quarterback often does not see this blitzing cornerback coming.
Why It Works
Element Of Surprise
One of the reasons that makes cornerback blitzes successful is the element of surprise. As we stated earlier it is quite rare for a cornerback to blitz the quarterback.
Since a cornerback usually covers the receiver there will be no offensive player near the cornerback ready to block them.
Instead, it is up to the offensive line to see the cornerback coming as he approaches the quarterback.
In other words, since the cornerback doesn’t often blitz he will have to be picked up late by an offensive player in the backfield as opposed to having to fight a blocker for the entire play.
This often means the cornerback will get a free shot at the quarterback without having to deal with any blockers.
Another reason that this play succeeds is due to the speed of the cornerback himself. Cornerbacks need to be able to go stride for stride with wide receivers in order to cover them properly.
This results in cornerbacks being one of the fastest players on the field. This speed is a crucial factor when rushing the quarterback.
The speed paired with the lack of blockers often means this defender will make it to the quarterback very quickly. This of course is ideal as the faster a player gets there the higher chance the quarterback has not yet thrown the ball.
Additionally, the speed of the cornerback will allow him to chase down the quarterback. If you watch football often you have seen quarterbacks slip away from defensive linemen by using their speed.
This isn’t going to be the case with cornerbacks as these players are typically much faster than quarterbacks.
Overloading One Side Of The Protection
One more positive aspect of this blitz is the overloading of one side of the offensive line. By sending the cornerback to blitz from near the sideline he will approach the quarterback from outside the tackle.
This means both the defensive end and the cornerback are going to working their way around the tackle.
This makes the tackles job very difficult as he may find himself having to pick between two defenders.
Why It Doesn’t
Leaves One Side Of The Field Vulnerable
One negative aspect of a corner blitz is that you are going to sacrifice some of your pass coverage. When using this blitz a safety will cover that cornerbacks area but the overall pass coverage will still be lacking.
If the offense is able to pick up the blitzing player and protect the quarterback then the defense may be in trouble.
Having one less defensive back in coverage makes a big difference and without a cornerback, you may find the opposing team’s quarterback will easily move the ball up the field.
Taking Down The Quarterback
One negative aspect of using a cornerback to rush the passer is that they are not always able to take them down. Though cornerbacks are faster than most players on the field they are also smaller.
The average quarterback is going to be noticeably heavier than your average cornerback. In most cases, the cornerback should still be able to make the tackle as they tackle players larger than them often.
But on some occasions, you’ll find a cornerback goes entirely unblocked but is not able to bring down the larger quarterback.
This is not an issue you will often face when a defensive lineman is pass rushing as opposed to a corner.