What Is A Mismatch In Football?

In the game of football, there is tons of terminology and slang. Keeping up with it all can be difficult which is why this article is on hand to break down what a mismatch is in football.

A mismatch in football occurs when a defensive player is noticeably worse than the offensive player they are assigned to cover.

In football, a common defensive technique is to play man coverage. When playing man coverage defenders will be assigned a specific player to cover for the duration of the play.

If a defensive player is matched up with an offensive player that they are unable to keep up with this is considered a mismatch.

The offense themselves will move players around in order to generate mismatches against a man coverage defense.

If you are able to consistently generate mismatches against the defense then it is going to be much easier for the offensive players to get open.

For this reason, when the defense finds they cannot match up to a team in man to man coverage they are sometimes forced to switch to a zone defense.

Common Mistmatches In Football

Running Back Vs Linebacker

Running back versus linebacker is a common mismatch in football that offenses love to exploit. When it comes to running the football linebackers are able to tackle and stop running backs consistently but pass coverage is a different story.

Running backs tend to be significantly faster than linebackers. Near the line of scrimmage, this speed difference doesn’t play a huge role but when the running back runs a deep route this can be a problem.

Linebackers struggle to keep up with backs if they are able to get into the open field. This can allow running backs to get open on deep routes when matched up with a linebacker.

One of the most effective receiving patterns used in these mismatches is a wheel route.

Tight End Vs Linebacker

Though a lot of tight end versus linebacker matchups are evenly matched there are many receiving-focused tight ends that can turn this into a mismatch.

Many tight ends are larger players that can block and pass the ball well. But for some tight ends receiving passes is their main purpose. These tight ends tend to be incredibly athletic and often much faster than linebackers.

These sorts of tight ends are able to generate separation from the linebackers due to their elite speed and agility at their size.

In most cases when a mismatch like this happens the team will look to use another defensive back to cover the tight end instead of the linebacker.

Though with these tight ends it’s hard to avoid a mismatch. The linebackers tend to lack the speed to cover these players and the cornerbacks tend to lack the size to stop them from bringing in balls.

Wide Receiver Vs Cornerback

Wide receiver vs cornerback is another position group that can end up in a mismatch for the defense. The majority of cornerback vs wide receivers battles are going to be fairly even. After all, these two positions are meant to go against one another in each play.

Though every once and a while a team will notice that a wide receiver is dominating the matchup versus his cornerback.

Whether speed, size, or strength is the difference a mismatch between a corner and a half back can be deadly for a defense.

In most cases, the defense will offer the cornerback some help on deep routes so that the receiver does not break off a long touchdown.

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