Cover 1 is also called, safety high. The Free Safety is left at the top alone and the Strong Safety moves up like a linebacker. This is used for projected run plays or against dink and dunk quarterbacks. The Jaguars SS is Barry Church, Tashaun Gipson Sr. is the Free Safety.
As in any formation, there are pros and cons and are dependent upon the talent on defense. To leave a safety high, the coach must trust him to cover a huge area, but also trusts the ball never gets there because the front 7 doesn’t give the quarterback time to rip off a pass deep.
*graphic is generic only to show where players could line up on certain basic plays.* Below has two TE’s and two RB’s to show what looks like a run play, but the QB can pass to his TE’s or use the backs as receivers, too.
Cover 1 in a 4-3 defense
Teams usually play their CB’s in man coverage, (FS in zone) but they can change from play to play. The FS has the back half to cover and watches the QB so he knows what direction the ball is going. If the QB jukes him out, bad things happen.
The SS is lower in the box to offer run support, but he can still shadow a RB or TE depending on the call. Any of the linebackers could have a specialized blitz plan as well.
In fact, this formation is great to run blitzes from because it is known as ‘crowding the box’ if the SS creeps up even closer. Not only does it make a run play tougher, but it also takes away the short pass, except for the brave or foolhardy – take your pick. This is a good way to force a QB to throw deep.
Cover 1 in a 3-4 defense
Why would a defense want a QB to toss it beyond 15 yards? Because they don’t think the quarterback has the arm to make those throws or maybe he’s uncomfortable doing them.
Cover 1 can give quarterbacks a noose to hang himself with. It also can make a team desperate. They can’t run and the short pass is gone – a powerful tool to use if you want to set up a QB, too.
An example would be If Jacksonville has been taking the short pass away all game, but now wants the QB to throw short, especially in the red zone because they know he’ll target that open guy. So, they play one receiver loose, and then jump in front and have a pick or at least a knock down.
This doesn’t work against good quarterbacks, because he’ll read what’s going on, but it works great against “less than'” quarterbacks.
In addition, the SS can act like he’s playing Cover 1, but drop back into Cover 2. The Jaguars do this often because Church is really good. Or he can do the opposite, show Cover 2 and at the last possible moment, move up to Cover 1.
The bottom line is, when a team has a secondary (and linebackers) as good as ours, it gives the Defensive Coordinator a lot choices. They can play different coverages without losing a beat. The beauty is when you’re so versatile, because you have fantastic talent, there’s little an offense can do against a secondary like Jacksonville’s.