Knowing how to beat a Cover 3 defense as a Wide Receiver has benefits for football players and coaches of all ages and levels, as well as for video game fans who are trying to bring a sense of realism to their football play calls. Understanding what a Cover 3 defense, and the role of the Wide Receiver position, can help in determining the best courses of action to beat the Cover 3 defense.
- In a Cover 3 defense, three Defensive Backs line up fairly deep, with a Free Safety about 13 yards or so from the line of scrimmage and two Cornerbacks about 10 yards deep. This is a type of Zone coverage, but a team that has a decent passing ability should be able to get through.
- One option the team has is to run the ball. With the Cover 3 defense, the defense is basically saying they think the offense is going to throw it and they want some big guys ready to stop receivers. Running the ball will help gain yards without risking an interception.
- To play a Wide Receiver in a Cover 3 defense the Quarterback can allow the receiver to take off down the field, throw deep, and hope for a catch. This can run the risk of the Wide Receiver fumbling, missing the catch, or an interception of one of those defensive players gets lucky.
- Another alternative that is often favored is a short pass. The Wide Receivers line up ready to take off down the field, but instead, the Quarterback throws a short pass allowing the targeted Wide Receiver to catch before reaching those deep-placed defensive players. This works particularly well because the remaining defensive line often has trouble keeping up with Wide Receivers because of their size, weight, and speed differences.