The Slanting 3-4 Defense in Youth Football
The slanting 3-4 defense is one of the most versatile defenses. This makes it an ideal fit for the Youth Level as it can adapt just as easily to a 2 TE set as a 4 WR formation while staying strong against the run. Through a simple system of rules you can give your players the simple ability to adjust to any formation.
The Defense is set up as above with the defensive lineman head up over the Center and two Tackles and the linebackers over the Guards. These players will keep this alignment for every play. Their gap assignments will change depending on the Outside Linebackers and their alignment. If an Outside Linebacker is walked up the defensive linemen will slant away from him and the linebackers will be responsible for the remaining gaps. If both Outside Linebackers are walked up they will slant to the wide side of the field.
The rules for the Outside Linebackers and the Safeties are what makes the defense adjustable. The rule for Outside Linebackers is if they have a TE to their side they will cover him by lining up directly over top of him. He will still be responsible for the C Gap but will work through the inside shoulder of the TE to get to the C gap. When the Outside Linebacker covers the TE the Safety on his side will roll down and is responsible for the flats in the pass game and the D gap on any run. The CB will step back and he is now responsible for the Deep Half of the field.
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If there are two receivers to a side the Outside Linebacker will lineup halfway between the #2 receiver and the Tackle at a depth of 3 yards. In this case the Outside Linebacker is responsible for the hook to curl area, the CB is responsible for the flats and the Safety will stay back and cover the deep half.
If there is only one receiver and no TE the rules still stay the same. The OLB (LO) will stay 3 yards deep but this time line up 2 yards wider than the Tackle. He has the same pass responsibilities and run responsibilities as before, he’s just tucked in a little more so he can help on any potential B Gap run.
In this defense there is not a strong or a weak side but it is very easy to do so. If you have an Outside Linebacker who is good against the run but struggles on the pass he can be assigned to always go to the TE side and the other OLB always goes to the weak side. In an ideal world both OLB’s would be good against the run and the pass so there is one less thing they have to think about, but this is a very good solution to deal with varying skills sets.
The slanting 3-4 defense is becoming more and more popular because it can adjust to any formation the offense comes out in. Using this system each player has a very simple set of rules that allows them to focus solely on their assignment and completing their job.