Defensive Line Gaps and Techniques

Defensive Line Gaps and Techniques

(See Also) 10 Fundamentals of Defensive Line Play
(See Also) Defensive Line Stances 
(See Also) 3-5-3 Stack Defense Playbook 
Defensive Line Gaps and Techniques

Defensive Line Gaps and Techniques

When we discuss defensive line techniques, the reason why we don’t use inside shade, outside shade, head up is because if you’re communicating on the phones, it’s really difficult, obviously, to get everything in on time to obviously talk about the defense. When we discuss defensive line techniques, somebody up top, the offensive line, when you get down to the sideline, off the field, can rattle them off and go very fast. We know exactly what they’re talking about. We get right into it, right on the board like so. When we discuss defensive line techniques, we have to start off with the center working out. The first guy that we discuss obviously is the person who’s head up the center, if we ever see this technique, okay? Most commonly it’s a nose. Nose tackle, nose guard and an odd-front defense like the 3-5 stack, the 53, the 3-4, 52.

What this technique is called is the zero-technique. Head up, nose. Sometimes you just call it zero. So, when we get off the sideline, everybody knows if he’s either a shade or he’s head up just by identifying by number. The next working from the center out is the outside shade of the center. The outside shade of the center most commonly is a defensive tackle. Normally, you see him in a 4-3 defense and even-front or a 4-4 or it could be an odd-front with the nose, the zero shade. What we commonly refer to this technique, guys, is the one-technique. One-technique is an outside shade of the center. Working our way over from the outside shade of the center to the inside shade of the guard. Normally speaking, it’s a defensive tackle. Normally speaking, it’s an even-front defense. By even-front, we mean 4-3, 4-4, with four down line.

We have zero. We have one. Now we call this technique a 2I. The reason why we give it an I call is because he’s on the inside eye of the offensive guard. That’s how we label it. Next, we go from inside eye of the guard, 2I, to head up the guard. Again, normally speaking, a defensive tackle not seen as much, not seen as often, but usually we see it sometimes gets 4-4 fronts. I like to slant this guy into either A-gap or B-gap. What we call this is the head-up two, two-technique, okay? So, we have a zero, we have a one, 2I and a head-up two. Commonly seen technique, outside shade of the guard is what we call the three-technique. Three-technique, obviously, very popular in most even-front defenses, especially, obviously, the 4-3 and 4-4. He’s playing outside shade of the offensive guard, normally maintaining B-gap.

All right. So, when we get off the sideline, we ask them, “Where’s D tackle playing?” We want them to say, “Oh, he’s in the head-up two or he’s in the three or he’s in the 2I.” We want them to communicate with us with numbers because it’s faster. We can write it down faster. We can communicate faster with the guys up top. Okay. Moving on down the line. Now moving to the tackle. Inside shade of the tackle. Normally, it could be a defensive tackle or it could be a defensive end, depending on the defense. We usually see a lot of 3-4 teams. That’s their defensive end. This is what we call a 4I technique. We have the 2I, which was the inside shade of the guard. We move to inside shade of the tackle. Now he’s a 4I. Okay. 2I, 4I. Normally speaking, he’s a B-gap defender.

His job is to hopefully not to let the guard get off and also not let the tackle get off in a linebacker. When you usually see a 4I odd-front defenses, 3-4, 52, 3-5, 5-3, okay? Most common. Can they run it in even defense? They can. Next technique, head up, is we have a zero. We had a two. Now we have a four, four-technique. Head up to offensive tackle. Normally speaking, odd-front defenses. 3-5, 3-4. The 3-5 stack is known for this technique. Okay. This kid is going to slant this gap or this gap. That’s why he’s head up, okay? They don’t want him one-on-one to tackle. They want him to cause havoc and move him, which we commonly see with that type of defensive. Next is outside shade of the tackle. Normally speaking, it’s going to be a defensive end most of the time because that’s their natural alignment.

Two weak sides, same thing. If he’s outside shade of the tackle with no tight end there, it’s still going to be the same exact number. Five-technique. Five-technique normally used even-front defenses, 4-3, 4-4, and also sometimes in a shaded odd front. Remember earlier we talked about the one technique. The nose could shade this way. They might move this end to outside. Okay. So, this is what we call a five-technique. Now, this is when it gets a little confusing however. This is the way it’s been called for years and the way we basically use it. There’s not a lot of explanation behind what it is, but this is how we communicate. Inside shade of the tight end, if you have a tight end in the game. Normally speaking, it’s a defensive end and his technique is a seven-technique.

Inside eye of the tight end. I’ve heard people called it past the 6I, because you have the 2I inside, 4I inside, and 6I. That makes better sense for you, obviously you can use it. Okay. Normally speaking, we’ve always called it the seven. Which defense? Pretty much there’s only defense we ever see this against since the 4-4, 6-2 front. They like to bump this guy down. One of their strongest players use their strong end. He’s going to take on the tight end. He’s going to read the tackle’s block, but he’s also going to be able to launch on the tight end. A technique we never see. It can be used, but rarely is a head-up on the tight end. Normally speaking, we see a seven or a guy outside. Head-up, we’re thinking he’s slanting. You could call this a bunch of different looks or a bunch of different techniques, but normally it’s either a six or an eight-technique. Head-up two, head-up four, head-up six. I prefer six.

I have heard some people call it eight-technique depending on obviously what you’re about to see next. Then the final technique, which is common versus tight end looks is the outside shade of the tight end, which is normally a defensive end. Could be an outside linebacker walked up on the line of scrimmage, which we call nine-technique. Okay. Nine-technique, responsible for the outside gap. He’s the one that could never get reached. He’s the one that has to [raw 00:08:02] more of a kick out block. There’s a lot of different things that the strong defensive end has to do there or outside of the linebacker, but that’s commonly referred to as a nine-technique. In review, if we see a defensive front, and I’ll draw up the common 4-3 front real quick. How we communicate this up top is we’ll have defensive end here.

We’ll have defensive tackle here, a three-technique here and a nine-technique here. When we get to the sideline, I don’t want to hear outside shade, outside shade. I don’t want to hear that. We want to hear they are in from the strong side down, the nine, three, one, five. Nine-technique, three-technique, one-technique, five-technique. It’s quick. It’s something that you want to hear from up top. Makes everything go faster. We can draw it up faster. All line gets their rules down, know who’s they’re blocking.




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