50 Rover Defense
1
The purpose of this defense is to be flexible and very adjustable based on calls. The calls will be
easy for the kids to understand but may be tough on the coach.
I will not attempt to cover all combinations of the calls here. You will be able to see that the calls
can be combined to create the defense to fit your needs. Make sure not to combine calls that will
leave you uncovered somewhere.
I tried to name the calls so that kids can remember the names. Usually, the dumber sounding the
better. You will definitely be able to come up with more calls. I list very few blitz calls here but
they would be easy to add in.
I signal all calls into the defensive captain. You can make up your own signs for the calls.
You can adjust the responsibilities of the positions to fit your needs (scouting report). I called
Rover strong for a team that ran their one good back to the wing side almost every time. My
rover was to line up on the LOS outside the DE and come hard off the corner to try to tackle this
RB behind the LOS and also behind the lead blocking. This is just one example of an adjustment
based on a scouting report.
I have read many books on defense and use parts of each that fit into this whole scheme. I have
built this as a YOUTH defense but it is really adapted from HS and College level defenses.
This playbook is not meant to be “all encompassing” covering the teaching of the techniques
used within. This is just a playbook. You will need to study the techniques to learn to teach and
drill them.
50 Rover Defense
2
Terminology
50- 5 man front
60- 6 man front
Line Calls
Bomber: refers to the tackle’s responsibility – Bomber = B gap. Since the tackle has the B gap
the LB to his side has the C gap.
Cowboy: refers to the tackle’s responsibility – Cowboy = C gap. Since the tackle has the B gap
the LB to his side has the B gap.
Slant: This tells your front 5/6 which way to slant. You can call it right, left, wide short, or
strong. The rover will have to yell out the strong side after he reads the offensive set to tell the
linemen which way to slant. You should always combine this with a Rover call. If you call 50
Rover left, Slant right, you now have a six man front. You can call Rover Right, Slant right if
you’re playing a team that has a tendency such as running to the wideside. Your left corner is on
an island if you do this.
DE Calls
Echo: means that the DE lines up 2 yards outside the TE or wing and has primary contain.
Box: This call tells the DE to charge across the LOS 2 yards and try to keep the play inside of
him. This can be combined with the “Echo” call
Sam and Will need to know where they line up based on the other calls. The only calls that
apply directly to them will be blitz calls.
Twist: 1 or 2 (50 front) can also be called Twist Sam or Will. I number Sam as #1 and Will as
#2. Twist 1 = NT slanting to his left and Sam blitzing the right A gap. Will now plays like the
middle backer in a 60 front.
Rover calls will be:
Left: He lines up on the defensive left side of the formation. His exact position will depend on
the offensive formation. When combined with a SLANT call, Rover will align on the LOS and
become primary contain.
Right: He lines up on the defensive right side of the formation. His exact position will depend on
the offensive formation. When combined with a SLANT call, Rover will align on the LOS and
become primary contain.
Wide: He lines up on the LOS wider than the DE, Rover is primary contain when he does this.
This call can be combined with Right, Left, and Strong calls.
Short: Rover lines up on the short side of the field.
Strong: Rover determines the Strong side of the offensive formation and lines up to that side.
Rover Stack: This brings the Rover up as a LB. It allows you to get into a 5-3 Stack or a 6-2.
HAWK Call
This call gives you a man to man pass defense. Usually used with a 50 front.
50 Rover Defense
3
50 Bomber
This is the basic set.
DE – Line up on the outside shoulder of the TE (9 tech). Against SE, align where the TE would
have been. Attack the outside shoulder of the TE. Don’t let him downblock the LB. Key the TE’s
outside foot. If the TE blocks down, slide down the LOS towards the inside ready to attack the
kickout block by the FB. Hit with your inside shoulder and keep your outside arm free. Close
down the size of the off tackle hole. If the TE trys to hook you, step quickly to the outside
keeping your inside hand on the TE and your outside arm free. Do not get hooked (reached).
Fight down the line to the outside. String out the ballcarrier. If a wing trys to downblock you,
give a little ground and fight to the outside.
Tackles- Line up head up on the OT. On the snap of the ball, take a 6 inch step to the inside.
Fend off OT with your flipper and defend the B gap. After defending your gap, take pursuit
angle to the ball.
Nose Tackle- Line up head up on the center. Hit the center and go towards backfield flow. Try to
play 2 gaps. Playside A gap is your responsibility. Pursue the ball if it doesn’t come your way.
Sam and Will LBs.- Line up on the outside shoulder of the OG. Key backfield flow. Flow toScrape over the DT and attack the off-tackle area. If ball goes further outside continue pursuit
along the LOS. Flow away- Hesitate slightly looking for crossbuck action. Defend the A gaps
along with the NT, then take a pursuit angle for deeper downfield.
Corners – Line up 4 yds deep and 3 yds. Outside a TE or wing. Line up 6 yds off a wideout. On
snap of the ball, backup at a 45 degree angle. Cover your 3rd of the field on pass. Play towards –
you are primary contain. Attack the outside shoulder of any lead block to make the runner cut
back inside. Play away – you are the cutback safety.
Rover and Free- Play towards, Rotate up to replace the Corner on your side, you are secondary
contain. Play it from outside –in. Play away, rotate to the deep middle. Dropback pass, retreat to
deep zone
50 Rover Defense
4
50 Bomber Echo – Double Rover
DE- (Echo alignment)Line up 2 yds. Outside the TE or Wing and be primary contain. Play tokeep ball on inside shoulder, take on all blocks with inside shoulder and keep shoulders parallel
to LOS. Stay on the LOS. Play away- Stay on the LOS looking for faces coming at you. This
indicates boot or reverse. If no one shows, take a deep pusuit angle downfield. Pass- Rush the
QB thru the outside shoulder of RB’s block, do not let the QB around you.
Tackles- Line up head up on the OT. On the snap of the ball, take a 6 inch step to the inside.
Fend off OT with your flipper and defend the B gap. After defending your gap, take pursuit
angle to the ball.
Nose Tackle- Line up head up on the center. Hit the center and go towards backfield flow. Try to
play 2 gaps. Playside A gap is your responsibility. Pursue the ball if it doesn’t come your way.
Sam and Will LBs.- Line up on the outside eye of the OG. Key backfield flow. Flow to- Scrape
over the DT and attack the off-tackle area. If ball goes further outside continue pursuit along the
LOS. Flow away- Hesitate slightly looking for crossbuck action. Defend the A gaps along with
the NT, then take a pursuit angle for deeper downfield.
Corners – Line up 7 yds deep and 3 yds outside a TE or wing. You are lined up here because of
the Double Rover call.. Line up 6 yds off a wideout. On snap of the ball, backup at a 45 degree
angle. Cover your 3rd of the field on pass. Play towards – you are secondary contain. Play away –
you are the cutback safety.
Rover and Free Safety – Line up 3 yds off the ball on the outside shoulder of the TE. Play
towards – attack the off-tackle area, pursue to the ball. Play away – rotate to the deep middle.
You have the deep middle on pass.
50 Rover Defense
5
50 Bomber - Double Rover
DE – Line up on the outside shoulder of the TE (9 tech). Against SE, align where the TE would
have been. Attack the outside shoulder of the TE. Don’t let him downblock the LB. Key the TE’s
outside foot. If the TE blocks down, slide down the LOS towards the inside ready to attack the
kickout block by the FB. Hit with your inside shoulder and keep your outside arm free. Close
down the size of the off tackle hole. If the TE trys to hook you, step quickly to the outside
keeping your inside hand on the TE and your outside arm free. Do not get hooked (reached).
Fight down the line to the outside. String out the ballcarrier. If a wing trys to downblock you,
give a little ground and fight to the outside.
Tackles- Line up head up on the OT. On the snap of the ball, take a 6 inch step to the inside.
Fend off OT with your flipper and defend the B gap. After defending your gap, take pursuit
angle to the ball.
Nose Tackle- Line up head up on the center. Hit the center and go towards backfield flow. Try to
play 2 gaps. Playside A gap is your responsibility. Pursue the ball if it doesn’t come your way.
Sam and Will LBs.- Line up on the outside shoulder of the OG. Key backfield flow. Flow toScrape over the DT and attack the off-tackle area. If ball goes further outside continue pursuit
along the LOS. Flow away- Hesitate slightly looking for crossbuck action. Defend the A gaps
along with the NT, then take a pursuit angle for deeper downfield.
Corners – Line up 4 yds deep and 3 yds. outside a TE or wing. Line up 6 yds off a wideout. On
snap of the ball, backup at a 45 degree angle. Cover your 3rd of the field on pass. Play towards –
you are primary contain. Attack the outside shoulder of any lead block to make the runner cut
back inside. Play away – you are the cutback safety.
Rover and Free Safety – Line up 3 yds off the ball on the outside shoulder of the TE. Play
towards – play off the tail of the DE. Force the area outside of him. You are not contain. Play
away – rotate to the deep middle.
50 Rover Defense
6
50 Cowboy – Rover Strong
DE – Line up on the outside shoulder of the TE (9 tech). Against SE, align where the TE would
have been. Attack the outside shoulder of the TE. Don’t let him downblock the LB. Key the
TE’s outside foot. If the TE blocks down, slide down the LOS towards the inside ready to attack
the kickout block by the FB. Hit with your inside shoulder and keep your outside arm free. Close
down the size of the off tackle hole. If the TE trys to hook you, get both of your hands on him,
push-pull him with outside arm upfield. Do not get hooked (reached). Fight down the line to the
outside. String out the ballcarrier. If a wing trys to downblock you, give a little ground and fight
to the outside.
Tackles- Line up head up on the OT. On the snap of the ball, take a 6 inch step to the outside.
Fend off OT with your inside flipper and defend the C gap. After defending your gap, take
pursuit angle to the ball.
Nose Tackle- Line up head up on the center. Hit the center and go towards backfield flow. Try to
play 2 gaps. Playside A gap is your responsibility. Pursue the ball if it doesn’t come your way.
Sam and Will LBs.- Line up on the outside shoulder of the OG. Key backfield flow. Flow toAttack the B gap first. If ball goes further outside continue pursuit along the LOS. Flow awayHesitate slightly looking for crossbuck action. Defend the A gaps along with the NT, then take a
pursuit angle for deeper downfield.
Strong Corner – Line up 6 yds deep and 2 yds. outside a TE or wing. Line up 6 yds off a
wideout. On snap of the ball, backup at a 45 degree angle. Cover your 3rd of the field on pass.
Play towards – you are secondary contain. Attack the outside shoulder of any lead block to make
the runner cut back inside. Play away – go to the deep middle.
Weak Corner – Line up 6 yds deep and 2 yds. outside a TE or wing. Line up 6 yds off a
wideout. On snap of the ball, backup at a 45 degree angle. Cover your 3rd of the field on pass.
Play towards – you are primary contain. Play away – you are the cutback safety.
Rover - Line up outside of a wing and off the LOS about 2 yds. You are primary contain to your
side. Play towards – attack from outside in. Play away - rotate to the deep third on your side of
the field. You are the cutback safety. Pass- cover the flat on your side
Free – Line up in the middle 8-10 yards off the ball. Back straight up on the snap. Play to Rover
– move slowly, look for cutbacks. Play away from Rover – Hurry to replace the Weak Corner,
cover his 3rd on pass, you are auxiliary contain.On pass, you have the deep middle.
50 Rover Defense
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60 Cowboy Echo – Double Rover
DE - (Echo alignment)Line up 2 yds. Outside the TE or Wing and be primary contain. Play tokeep ball on inside shoulder, take on all blocks with inside shoulder and keep shoulders parallel
to LOS. Stay on the LOS. Play away- follow thru the backfield looking for boot or reverse. PassRush the QB thru the outside shoulder of RB’s block, do not let him around you.
Tackles- Line up head up on the OT. On the snap of the ball, take a 6 inch step to the outside.
Fend off OT with your inside flipper and defend the C gap. After defending your gap, take
pursuit angle to the ball.
NT – Line up on the left side with your inside shoulder in line with the center’s knees to your
side. Penetrate thru the center’s knee and the guard’s inside knee. Drive thru low and up. Try to
take out the center and guard, then pursue to the play.
Will LB – Line up on the right side of the center in a 3 or 4 point stance. Try to get to the QB’s
feet and bring him down.
Sam LB – Line up over the center about 3 yards off the ball. Read backfield flow and get to the
B gap playside and attack the play from inside out.
Corners – Line up 7 yds deep and 3 yds outside a TE or wing. You are lined up here because of
the Double Rover call. Line up 6 yds off a wideout. On snap of the ball, backup at a 45 degree
angle. Cover your 3rd of the field on pass. Play towards – you are secondary contain. Play away –
you are the cutback safety.
Rover and Free Safety – Line up 3 yds off the ball on the outside shoulder of the TE. Play
towards – attack the off-tackle area, pursue to the ball. Play away – rotate to the deep middle.
You have the deep middle on pass.
50 Rover Defense
8
50 Slant Right, Rover Left
Tackles and Nose – Line up head up on the Ots and Center. On the snap of the ball, slant right
and penetrate the LOS 1 yard deep. Find the ball and tackle it.
Right DE – Line up on the outside shoulder of the TE (9 tech). Move outside quickly, you have
primary contain.
Left DE – Line up on the outside shoulder of the TE (9 tech). Charge through the TE and secure
the C gap.
Sam and Will – Line up on the outside shoulder of the OG. Key backfield flow and pursue to
the ball. Primary responsibilities are the gaps that the linemen don’t cover.
Note: You can blitz Sam and Will through their assigned gaps.
Corners – Line up 7 yds deep and 3 yds outside a TE or wing. Line up 6 yds off a wideout. On
snap of the ball, backup at a 45 degree angle. Cover your 3rd of the field on pass. Play towards –
you are secondary contain. Play away – you are the cutback safety.
Free – Line up in the middle 8-10 yards off the ball. Back straight up on the snap. Flow to ball.
Attack running plays from inside-out. On pass, you have the deep middle.
50 Rover Defense
9
50 Bomber Rover Stack
DE – Line up on the outside shoulder of the TE (9 tech). Against SE, align where the TE would
have been. Attack the outside shoulder of the TE. Don’t let him downblock the LB. Key the TE’s
outside foot. If the TE blocks down, slide down the LOS towards the inside ready to attack the
kickout block by the FB. Hit with your inside shoulder and keep your outside arm free. Close
down the size of the off tackle hole. If the TE trys to hook you, step quickly to the outside
keeping your inside hand on the TE and your outside arm free. Do not get hooked (reached).
Fight down the line to the outside. String out the ballcarrier. If a wing trys to downblock you,
give a little ground and fight to the outside.
Tackles- Line up head up on the OT. On the snap of the ball, take a 6 inch step to the inside.
Fend off OT with your flipper and defend the B gap. After defending your gap, take pursuit
angle to the ball.
Nose Tackle- Line up head up on the center. Hit the center and go towards backfield flow. Try to
play 2 gaps. Playside A gap is your responsibility. Pursue the ball if it doesn’t come your way.
Sam - Line up behind the Nose, Read backfield flow, step towards playside A gap. If play is
coming at you attack with outside shoulder. If ball goes further outside, pursue. On pass, Drop
straight back.
Will - Line up behind right Tackle. Tackle has B gap, so your 1st step is towards C gap on your
side. Play towards- Attack C gap, take on lead blocks with outside shoulder. Play away – Take
pursuit angle. On Pass, drop at a 45 degree angle to your right.
Corners – Line up 4 yds deep and 3 yds. Outside a TE or wing. Line up 6 yds off a wideout. On
snap of the ball, backup at a 45 degree angle. Cover your 3rd of the field on pass. Play towards –
you are primary contain. Attack the outside shoulder of any lead block to make the runner cut
back inside. Play away, rotate to deep center – you are the cutback safety.
Rover - Line up behind left Tackle. Tackle has B gap, so your 1st step is towards C gap on your
side. Play towards- Attack C gap, take on lead blocks with outside shoulder. Play away – Take
pursuit angle. On Pass, drop at a 45 degree angle to your left.
Free – Line up in the middle 8-10 yards off the ball. Back straight up on the snap. Flow to ball.
Attack running plays from inside-out. On pass, you have the deep middle.
You can Call 50 Cowboy Rover Stack – Now the Tackles switch gap assignments with Rover
and Will.
50 Rover Defense
10
60 Cowboy Rover Stack
DE – Line up on the outside shoulder of the TE (9 tech). Against SE, align where the TE would
have been. Attack the outside shoulder of the TE. Don’t let him downblock the LB. Key the TE’s
outside foot. If the TE blocks down, slide down the LOS towards the inside ready to attack the
kickout block by the FB. Hit with your inside shoulder and keep your outside arm free. Close
down the size of the off tackle hole. If the TE trys to hook you, step quickly to the outside
keeping your inside hand on the TE and your outside arm free. Do not get hooked (reached).
Fight down the line to the outside. String out the ballcarrier. If a wing trys to downblock you,
give a little ground and fight to the outside.
Tackles- Line up head up on the OT. On the snap of the ball, take a 6 inch step to the outside.
Fend off OT with your inside flipper and defend the C gap. After defending your gap, take
pursuit angle to the ball.
NT – Line up on the left side with your inside shoulder in line with the center’s knees to your
side. Penetrate thru the center’s knee and the guard’s inside knee. Drive thru low and up. Try to
take out the center and guard, then pursue to the play.
Will LB – Line up on the right side of the center in a 3 or 4 point stance. Try to get to the QB’s
feet and bring him down.
Sam – Lines up in the right B gap 2-3 yards off the ball. Step towards the gap on snap of ball. If
play is coming at you, attack lead back with outside shoulder. Play away – check for cross buck,
then take pursuit angle. On Pass, drop back at 45 degree angle into zone.
Rover - Lines up in the left B gap 2-3 yards off the ball. Step towards the gap on snap of ball. If
play is coming at you, attack lead back with outside shoulder. Play away – check for cross buck,
then take pursuit angle. On Pass, drop back at 45 degree angle into zone.
Corners – Line up 4 yds deep and 3 yds. Outside a TE or wing. Line up 6 yds off a wideout. On
snap of the ball, backup at a 45 degree angle. Cover your 3rd of the field on pass. Play towards –
you are primary contain. Attack the outside shoulder of any lead block to make the runner cut
back inside. Play away, rotate to deep center – you are the cutback safety.
Free – Line up in the middle 8-10 yards off the ball. Back straight up on the snap. Flow to ball.
Attack running plays from inside-out. On pass, you have the deep middle.
50 Rover Defense
11
50 Bomber Hawk
DE – Line up on the outside shoulder of the TE (9 tech). Against SE, align where the TE would
have been. Attack the outside shoulder of the TE. Don’t let him downblock the LB. Key the TE’s
outside foot. If the TE blocks down, slide down the LOS towards the inside ready to attack the
kickout block by the FB. Hit with your inside shoulder and keep your outside arm free. Close
down the size of the off tackle hole. If the TE trys to hook you, step quickly to the outside
keeping your inside hand on the TE and your outside arm free. Do not get hooked (reached).
Fight down the line to the outside. String out the ballcarrier. If a wing trys to downblock you,
give a little ground and fight to the outside. On Pass- Rush the QB thru the outside shoulder of
RB’s block, do not let him around you. Always keep QB inside of you.
Tackles- Line up head up on the OT. On the snap of the ball, take a 6 inch step to the inside.
Fend off OT with your flipper and defend the B gap. After defending your gap, take pursuit
angle to the ball. On pass, rush QB in your lane.
Nose Tackle- Line up head up on the center. Hit the center and go towards backfield flow. Try to
play 2 gaps. Playside A gap is your responsibility. Pursue the ball if it doesn’t come your way.
Corners – Line up on #1 eligible receiver to your side, 6 yards off LOS. Cover that receiver
wherever he goes. You might at times want to line up on the LOS and play bump and run
depending on what routes these receivers normally run.
Rover and Will – Line up on #2 eligible receiver to your side. Cover him wherever he goes. If
#2 is a TE, line up on him, your responsible for C gap on run. You may at time want to line up
on the LOS and play bump and run.
Sam – Line up on the #3 eligible receiver. Cover him wherever he goes. You are still primarily
responsible for runs.
Free – Line up 12 yards deep. Start dropping on snap of the ball. Key the QB and follow his
movement. Play deep middle zone. Always be deeper than ANY receiver. Break to the ball when
it hits the air.