What Is A Football Secondary?

Do you know what is a football secondary? Hence, a secondary has those defenders whose function is to defend against deep passes. The players can defend short passes. In addition, they help the run defense while playing.

You should know that defensive linemen and linebackers are those players who are adjacent to the scrimmage line and football. They are the defense’s first line and defend against the run for the proximity to the ball.

The players behind them are called the defensive backfield, and the formation completes including them. It is one of the examples also. Let’s dive into the article to know about the topic ‘what is a football secondary.’

What Is The Role Of The Secondary In Football?

Keeping the opponent from making deep passes behind the defense is the primary role of this. They must be able to read, react, and go up the field to tackle a ball carrier.

For example, a backpedaling defensive back will transition to a sprint downfield at the accurate angle when they find the offense running the ball.

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Sometimes, cornerbacks blitz to build more pressure on a quarterback. But it has a disadvantage asking that it can give up an extra player in coverage.

These players may need to play adjacent to the scrimmage line based on the down and distance.

Even they can make it happen to provide more support against run plays. These players line up deeper in the secondary if the opponent is far from them for having longer distance.

The responsibility of the secondary may be affected by the defensive play. No players exist in Cover 0 who are defending deep.

The players are blitzing the offense. When it comes to Cover 1, you can find one deep defender only. The remaining players are manned up or blitzing the offense.

What Positions Play In The Secondary In Football?

What is a football secondary
What Is A Football Secondary

Do you know what is a football secondary? Safetiess and cornerbacks can manage most part of the positions in the secondary.

Hence, you should know that any player can fit the secondary form. However, safeties and cornerbacks come with certain physical qualities, converting them into an actual option to play in the secondary.

These are the name of the positions with responsibilities for every position.

Free Safety:

It is one of the safeties which is capable of making up the form completely. This position is on the field’s weak side, indicating the formation side with fewer players.

It remains too much involved in the passing than the strong safety. The opponent can run the ball to the formation side with fewer offensive players.

Moreover, the free safety can begin the play further back from the scrimmage line compared to the strong safety.

Compared to the strong safety, these weigh a little less. It helps to move more effectively in the defensive backfield.

The position has the longest distance in coverage and helps cornerbacks on deep passes. Regarding the cover 1 defense, the defender can cover the deep section of the field.

Strong Safety:

It may be the second safety position in the formation. You can find it a bit bigger than the earlier one as those players line up on the strong side of the formation.

They are standing with more players, and the extra player is often a tight end. It has to get through it’s block to bring a running back down.

As the additional player is lined up on the powerful side, the ball is controlled in that direction, mostly indicating that they will take a shot at bringing down the ball carrier on passing plays. While the passing game, the position is involved excessively.


They need to stop wide receivers. These players are assigned as man coverage or zone coverage.

While the first one comes with every cornerback covering the duration of the play, Zone coverage has a player cover a particular field section.

If an offensive player enters the zone, the player must cover the positions until leaving the area. A lot of defenses prefer to use both types in the form.

They must get past the receivers’ blocks to tackle the running back position. As they cover wide receivers, they can line up near the sideline. They will not be involved if there is a distance between the ball and the players.

Nickel Corner:

It is an extra cornerback who can join the defense form in specific situations. The player comes with a equal task that a normal cornerback has despite these remaining adjacent to the center position of the field.

This specific position plays from the slot. Besides, if another team uses three wide receivers or more, they will come on the field.

In these cases, receivers must get open if any awkward defensive position uncovers them.

When the offense brings more receivers onto the field, a nickel corner position comes into play by matching the additional receivers’ quickness and agility.

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Nowadays, people can see a boost in passing the NFL. As a result, they are leading a major role in the secondary in football.

How Many Players Are In The Secondary?

What is a football secondary

The players’ numbers in the game rely on the coverage. Primarily, the primary defensive coverages are cover 2 and cover 3.

Two deep safeties with the remaining defensive players are in cover 2 to defend short. Besides, one safety and two cornerbacks defend a third of the field in cover 3.

However, you can learn about different variations of defensive coverage.

For example, Nickel packages have five defensive backs, acquainted as late down, while the offense passes to make the first down.

You can see that the player number relies on a defensive team’s identity, the down, and the distance of each play.

Nickel Defense:

While an opponent sends more receivers than usual onto the field, teams will use a nickel defense.

As a result of the defensive formation, the secondary require more players. They add a fifth player in the situation, which is when the name nickel appears.

Hence, a defensive lineman or linebacker might get subbed off the field, and a cornerback exchanged the position with him. The secondary contains three cornerbacks and two safeties.

Dime Defense:

Like the earlier one, it is used while your opponent uses more receivers than normal. Add another player to form the defense format.

Again, you can exchange a cornerback with a linebacker or defensive lineman. As soon as you use a dime defense format, the secondary contains four cornerbacks and two safeties.

Quarter Defense:

It is one of the formations of defense which can change the player number in the secondary. You will see rarely using quarter defense in games.

Generally, defensive coordinators prefer to use the formation in hail mary situations. It has two safeties and five cornerbacks but only one linebacker and three defensive linemen in the box.

Therefore, while four players are a usual secondary format, seven may exist.

How Do You Play In The Secondary In Football?

What is a football secondary

You must have intelligence, aggression, and athleticism to play in the position. There exists a cardinal rule telling you that you should defend the pass first and run second. A DB player must not be beaten deep by a wide receiver.

For instance, the function of a cornerback position is to defend one deep third of the field in cover 3.

Hence, the player must cover a wide receiver who runs a path in the deep third. As a result, they give up a deep play over the top.

The players must be capable of moving in all directions. Hence, the player should know how to do Backpedaling, turning the hips, and sprinting.

These are some crucial movements that you must do to fit the position. In addition, defenders should move laterally and side-to-side as they must be able to shuffle, track ball carriers, and make successful tackles.

If a player wants to take an accurate angle, he must have proper physical practice and intelligence.

They must take the correct angle to cut off a ball carrier. Thus, they can assist in forcing them to cut back to the middle position to contain players and stop big plays.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does it mean when they say secondary in football?

Defensive backs are called secondary. They playback of the linebackers or outside adjacent to the sidelines.

Their main responsibility is to defend against pass plays. Remember that defensive linemen and linebackers are the players who remain adjacent to the scrimmage line and football.

These players serve as the defense’s first line defending against the run for the proximity to the ball.

2. What position is secondary in NFL?

The defensive back position is secondary in the NFL.

3. Is a linebacker considered secondary?

The secondary refers to a group of DBs on defense: cornerback and linebacker.

4. What positions are there in football?

These are the positions— Left Tackle (LT), Left Guard (LG), Center (C), Right Guard (RG), and Right Tackle (RT) from left to right.

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