What Is A DB In Football?

The position of the defensive back has become one of the most popular positions in football for a lot of reasons. It’s an exciting position that plays a big role in not only the success of a team on the field but also in handling the game’s officiating challenges.

It is one of the most popular in football specifically because of the responsibility it demands. It’s a position where the players have to do a lot of things well. To understand more about the position of defensive back, check out the following.

What Is A Defensive Back?

This position is responsible for defending the pass and stopping the run. As the name suggests, it’s the back of the defense. The defensive back is the first player in the defensive line and the last player to leave the defense. They also have an important job in the field.


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Offenses use every tool at their disposal to try and score points. But, defensive backs also need to use their skills to stop the offense from getting any points. No matter which side of the ball you’re on, you need to be ready to do your job.

DB Defenses

DB defensive coordinators are usually in charge of two types of defenses: man and zone. Man coverage is when more than one player is responsible for covering a receiver, while zone coverage is when more than one player is responsible for being a safety valve for the rest of the offense.


DB Plays

There are a number of plays specific to DBs, but most DBs will learn the box, curl, and hook routes. These routes are used to create turnovers and generate turnovers.

If you see a hook route from a corner, he’s trying to bring the receiver down and stop the route, causing a turnover. If the hook route is a curl route and the DB stops the route, he can cause a turnover by hitting the receiver and causing a fumble.

DB Skills

  • Play recognition – The ability to see what the offense is doing and know what to do in response.
  • Reads – The ability to know when to turn and run with receivers, knowing when to back off and when to aggressively pursue.
  • Zone recognition – Knowing when to be in zone coverage, when to play man, and when to make a tackle.
  • Tackling technique – How to use your body to bring down a runner.
  • Fighting – Knowing when to fight and when to give up, knowing when to try again and when to call a timeout.
  • Ball security – Knowing when to tuck the ball and run.

DB Terminology

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  • Cover 1 – A Cover 1 defense is a man coverage look where defensive backs are responsible for one receiver, while two others are safety valves.
  • Cover 2 – A Cover 2 defense is a zone coverage look, where two outside receivers are safety valves for the rest of the secondary, while two other defensive backs are responsible for the inside receivers.
  • Cover 3 – A Cover 3 defense is a combination of both Cover 1 and 2 looks, with three defenders responsible for three receivers, while a fourth defender is responsible for a safety valve for the other three.
  • Cover 4 – A Cover 4 defense has four defenders responsible for four receivers.

DB Injuries and Recovery

Like any other position in football, DBs also need to be ready for the possibility of injury. It’s a position that’s susceptible to a number of injuries. But, they can be ready to handle the challenge. DBs need to be ready for the possibility of injury and injury recovery needs to be a part of DB training.

Offensive Tackles

If the DB gets held and the ball is advanced, he’s out of the play. This is why defensive backs need to listen to what the offensive coordinator is telling the offensive linemen.

If the offensive line doesn’t give the blockers enough room to be effective, then the DB will be in a great position to make a tackle. If the offensive line gives the blockers too much room to be effective, the DB won’t be able to make a tackle.


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Offensive Backs

DBs can get their hands on offensive backs and try to bring them down. If a DB does this and the offensive back is carrying the ball, the DB will be called for a hold. This can lead to a penalty, which can lead to a turnover as the offense will be forced to try and punt or punt the ball away.

Two of the best DBs in NFL History

It comes as no surprise that the best DBs outrun the fastest runners, leap over the tallest receivers, and exploit poorly thrown passes, amongst others.


1. Deion Sanders

deion sanders

The aforementioned feat is one of the reasons why cornerback Deion Sanders is regarded as one of the best DBs in NFL history.

Sanders was known as a shutdown corner because of his ability to “shut down” his half of the field. Quarterbacks would not throw to players Sanders was covering as there was little chance of success.


Sanders also leveraged any ball that came his way. Sanders had 53 interceptions in his NFL career, nine of which he returned for touchdowns!

Although he retired at the age of 34, his fierceness, athleticism, and aggression as a competitor ensured that he returned to action three years later. Sanders signed with the Baltimore Ravens at the age of 37 and played two more seasons ending his football career for good.

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2. Ed Reed

ed reed

Ed Reed is one of the NFL’s all-time great defensive backs or DBs. Reed, at 5’11”, wasn’t the league’s tallest safety, but he was one of its hardest hitters and most feared defensive players.

Reed was a member of the Baltimore Ravens for 12 of his 13 seasons. He was the NFL’s interceptions leader three times and had over 600 tackles to his credit.


He won the award of the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2004, a rare feat for safeties in the game of American Football. He eventually won a Super Bowl in his final season with the Ravens in 2012,


As you can see, the position of defensive back in football is a very important one. It requires the player to do a lot of things well to help the team play better and to handle the game’s officiating challenges. 

The position of defensive back is one of the most popular in football because it’s an exciting position that plays a big role in handling the officiating challenges of the game.


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