```QB Pre-Snap Reads
Understanding Safeties, Boxes, and
what it all means.
Definition: A survey of the defense to determine
the play / scheme that they are going to run.
Objective: Identify their play to speed up the
decision that we must make once the ball is
snapped.
Result: Allows us to better attack our opponents
weaknesses and avoid their strengths forcing
them to change their plans and giving us control.
• Every snap, the QB will identify pieces of
information that will define the defense and
allow us to “play fast”. They are:
–Number of players in the “Middle”
–Number of players “Box”
Defining the “Middle”
• Where is the middle?
– The middle of the field is the space behind the
linebackers and to include the space behind our
– The middle is not “hash to hash”, but a space that
might move depending on where we are on the
field and our formation.
– We are looking to identify the number of
defenders or “safeties” in that zone (1 or 2)
Defining the “Middle”
Defining the “Middle”
Determining the Number of Safeties
• Defenses cannot have more than 2 safeties
without having major problems stopping the
run.
• Basically every defense that is run at any level
has between 0 and 2 safeties.
• Knowing the number of safeties helps us
greatly narrow down the potential plays that
the defense can run and helps us “play fast”
Determining the Number of Safeties
• 0 Safeties (Called Black) = Cover 0 or Man.
Expect blitzes.
• 1 Safety (Called Gold) = Cover 1 or 3. Box
number can vary from 6 to 8 (explained later).
• 2 Safeties (Called Purple) = Cover 2, 4, or 20.
Box number can vary from 5 to 7.
• The following slides will show you a few
examples of each.
0 Safeties (“Black”) vs. Rip
0 Safeties (“Black”) vs. Reo
1 Safety (“Gold”) vs. Rip
1 Safety (“Gold”) vs. Reo
2 Safeties (“Purple”) vs. Reo
2 Safeties (“Purple”) vs. River
Communicating the Number of
Safeties
• The QB will verbally and visibly communicate
the “Middle” read to the rest of the team.
Number of Verbal Communication Visible Communication
Safeties
0
1
2
“Black __” to the right,
“Black __” to the left
Hands visibly at the QB’s side
through the verbal signal
“Gold __” to the right,
“Gold __” to the left
One hand making a signal as
“Gold __” is being said
“Purple __” to the right,
“Purple __” to the left
Both hands make a signal as
“Purple __” is being said
Note: The ___ that follows the color will be filled with our box information.
Defining the “Box”
• Where is the “Box”?
– Width: The space between from tackle to tackle
including the any attached backs / ends.
– Depth: Extends from the ball to the heels of the
deepest linebacker.
– We are looking to identify the number of
defenders in the box in order to know how
important stopping the run is to that team.
• We are expecting a number between 5 and 8.
Defining the “Box”
Defining the “Box”
Determining the # of Box Defenders
• Defenses are telling us how important
stopping the run is by how many players they
put in the box.
• The number of box players is connected to the
number of safeties (see later slide).
• Knowing the number of players in the box
shows us where the space is and helps us
“play fast”
Determining the # of Box Defenders
• 5 players (Called 50) = Likely has 2 safeties and 3
line players. Meant to stop the pass.
• 6 players (Called 60) = Likely has 1 safety. Could
be 3, 4, or 5 man line. Considered to be balanced
against run and pass.
• 7 players (Called 70) = Likely has 2 safeties and at
least 4 line players. Used to stop the run.
• 8 players (Called 80) = Likely has 1 or 0 safeties.
Used to shut down the run.
5 Man Box: 3-2 Defense
5 Man Box: 4-1 Defense
6 Man Box: 3-3 Stack
6 Man Box: 4-2 Defense
7 Man Box: 4-3 Defense
7 Man Box: 5-2 Defense
7 Man Box: 3-3 Stack + Tuff Dog
8 Man Box: 4-4 Defense
8 Man Box: 5-3 Defense
Communicating the Number of Players
in the Box
• The QB will verbally communicate the “Box”
read to the rest of the team.
Number of Players Verbal Communication
5
“__ 50” to the right, “__ 50” to the left
6
“__ 60” to the right, “__ 60” to the left
7
“__ 70” to the right, “__ 70” to the left
8
“__ 80” to the right, “__ 80” to the left
Note: The ___ that precedes the number will be filled with the middle color.
Decision Accelerators
help us define much of what the defense is
going to do.
the can give us additional information.
• These include:
– Corner Depth
– Dog Leverage
Corner Depth
• The “corner” is defined as the defender over the
• His depth can help define specific coverages.
– Cover 2 vs. Cover 4
– Cover 3 vs. Cover 10
• 2 Basic Alignments:
– On: Player is inside 6 yards depth or obviously playing
man coverage.
– Off: Player is 6+ yards depth or consistently bailing
“On” Corner
“Off” Corner
Dog Leverage
• The “Dog” is the linebacker that is outside of
the tackle on either side.
• The alignment of the dog helps us better
understand the goals of the defense and how
they plan on addressing our different players /
formations.
• Many variations are possible and will be
taught in further sessions.
```