Triple coverage in football refers to a situation in which three defenders are attempting to stop a single receiver from catching a pass from the quarterback.
In football three players are never going to be assigned to a single player. Instead, triple coverage will usually come about due to the receiver being in an area of the field which has a large number of defenders in close proximity.
Generally speaking, it is almost always a bad idea for a quarterback to throw into triple coverage. Quarterbacks will try and avoid these situations and tend to target players in triple coverage by accident or in moments of desperation.
How does triple coverage come about in football?
We’ve already covered that three defenders are not going to be assigned to a single player in coverage. Not even Calvin Johnson got that level of treatment when he was in the league.
This may leave you wondering what sorts of plays and coverages lead to passes in triple coverage. Below we will cover some of those scenarios.
Intermediate throws against cover 2
One situation which can lead to triple coverage in football is intermediate throws when the defense is playing a cover 2.
In a cover two defense there are going to be two safeties covering the deep portions of the defensive backfield.
If the ball is thrown deep they look to break it up and if it is thrown short they will come downhill and make the tackle.
Oftentimes the other players in the defense will be playing man coverage and will have help from the safeties if their player goes deep.
If an offensive players runs an intermediate route to the middle of the field he can find himself in triple coverage in this defense.
The two safeties will come downfield to break up the pass while the defender playing man coverage will be on the offensive player as well.
The quarterback will attempt to thread the ball between the defenders before the safeties arrive. This is a very difficult and fairly risky throw to make.
Another situation which leads to triple coverage in football is a hail mary. A hail mary is a play in which the offense will throw the ball deep down the field in a desperate attempt to score a late touchdown.
The defense is almost always going to know this play is coming and will place several defensive backs on the field for this reason.
These defensive backs will wait near the endzone and attempt to break up any passes that come their way.
Since the ball is often thrown a far distance on these plays several defenders will often have time to get to the receiver before the ball does.
This usually results in a crowd of defenders surrounding the intended receiver. This is the sort of situation in which it is alright to throw into triple coverage.
Underthrown deep passes
One more play that may result in triple coverage is when a deep ball is underthrown. On deep passes throwing the ball with too much arch is going to give the defense time to adjust.
On some poor throws this may give the safeties enough time to reach the receiver. This can result in the cornerback playing man coverage as well as two safeties covering the player as the ball arrives.
That is all on triple coverage in football if you are looking to learn more about this topic you may find interest in our article what is soft zone coverage in football or what is double coverage in football.