In the modern game teams are moving towards more running Quarterbacks. This, combined with the Spread Offense, has led to an increase in the average points scored in games. Defenses have begun to evolve to defend running Quarterbacks. There are a variety of different techniques that teams can use to defend these Quarterbacks but there are a few core tenants that defenses must stay within when preparing to go against a running Quarterback. It’s always difficult to figure out how to contain a mobile quarterback in youth football. Sometimes athletes are just going to make plays, regardless of scheme. However, here is how we defend against mobile QBs.
How to Contain a Mobile Quarterback in Youth Football
Make a Decision / Game Planning
The first thing that the defense must do is make a decision on if the Quarterback is more dangerous as a passer or runner. This decision will drive the rest of the strategy. If the Quarterback is a threat to run and gain 5 to 6 yards but can create explosive plays in the passing game he is more dangerous as a passer than a runner. On the other hand, if the Quarterback is a solid passer who struggles to consistently hit receivers, but can make defenders miss and turn a 5 yard run into a 15 yard run than I would classify the Quarterback as a more dangerous runner.
If the Quarterback is more dangerous as a passer than a runner the defense should look to disrupt his ability to pass and rally up to make the tackle. There are a variety of ways to do this.
One effective way is by giving the Quarterback pressure through the A gaps. This will cause most Quarterbacks to pull the ball down and get out of the pocket. If the defense has a linebacker spy this can lead to a tackle for 2 to 3 yards.
Another option is to drop an extra defender into pass coverage late. When Quarterbacks start seeing defenders in coverage that they didn’t expect to see they become worried about throwing the ball. If the Quarterback is a semi-mobile player he will likely pull the ball and try to gain yards on the ground. This gives the defenders a chance to come up and make the tackle for a short gain.
When the Quarterback is a dangerous runner who can make defenders miss in space, but struggles to consistently throw an accurate ball, the defensive goal shifts to forcing the offense to complete short passes down the field.
The best way to do this is playing a soft zone coverage that allows the defenders to keep the receivers in front of them while have the Hook-Curl players in a position to come up and make a play on the Quarterback when he is escaping the pocket.
The goal of Quarterback pressure changes from an inside approach to an approach where the line wants to make sure there is always a player to set the edge and keep the Quarterback in the pocket. This will normally be a Defensive End who is no longer looking to get a sack but instead has the goal of forcing the Quarterback to throw the ball.
One of the core tenants of playing defensive football is to take away what the offense is the best at. Because the Quarterback is such a key player on the offense, if the defense can force him into the skill set that he is less dangerous with they can minimize his effects and limit the damage he can do.