Structuring Your Defense – The Front

Just like coverages, a defense should have different fronts to combat a variety of formations & schemes.

Just like coverages in a secondary, a defense cannot live in one front or technique on the defensive line. How a defense structures its front line has a direct correlation to how an offense is going to attack it. Most defensive coaches in America understand that the defensive line is critical to not only stopping the run but putting pressure on the quarterback when he drops back to pass. It is no stretch to say that the top teams in any level of football usually have one of the best defensive fronts for that level.

The front, and subsequently the strength call, create the first line of defense against an offense. In a well-formulated defense, the front seven (and even the secondary) act as links in a chain. The anchor points of these links are always the defensive linemen. Understanding how these links react to each other is critical in developing a plan to stop offenses. Not every front (or strength call) is equal to one another.

Some fronts and techniques are better suited to defend Spread offenses than Power ones, and vice versa. For this reason, defensive coaches should carry multiple fronts for multiple situations. Just like a defense’s coverages and alignments are different when defending a Wing-T team compared to a 10 personnel Air Raid offense, different defensive fronts can help combat the multitude of offenses seen throughout the year, and why every defensive coordinator should carry several fronts in his toolbox.

The advancement (and acceptance) of hybrid players have led many DC’s to switch from three-down to four-down in the same game (or even during the season – game to game). To the point of being multiple and carrying a plethora of calls on the call sheet, Don Brown, Defensive Coordinator for Michigan insist, “If you have more answers in your toolbox then you can go to them throughout the season and it’s a matter of just getting them back on recall.” Having a multitude of options at a defense’s disposal can only add to what it can ultimately stop. More is simply, just more. It comes down to how well you can teach it.

Setting the Front

I explain in my book, Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football, that the front, and subsequently how it is set, is crucial in defending offenses today. This is not a fact missed by many defensive coordinators. Every defensive coach understands that alignments can help or hurt a defense when it comes to stopping high powered offenses, whether traditional or Spread. Against tempo teams, alignment is half the battle! Setting the front seems simple enough, but understanding why you are setting it that way and how it is helping (or hurting) your defense is important. For instance, the first article I ever wrote was on the age-old Over Front and its (re)emergence as a key way to stop the modern Spread attacks that are proliferating through all levels of football (it is also a key part of my book).

The Over Front

The theory behind the Over Front is simple, by putting the 3 technique (DT) to the RB in 10 pers. 2×2 set, the defense is allowing the hybrid Sam (Ni) to gain a full cover down. The term cover down refers to the relationship between the overhang and the slot. In a 4-3/4-2-5 defense, the overhangs are the OLBs, or Sam and Will. A full cover down is when the overhang can align directly on the slot (or #2 WR). To a Spread team that utilizes RPOs to the read side (RB side), this cover down will force the offense to go elsewhere. Eliminating play options is the first step to defending RPO teams.

When basing out of a 4-3, many coordinators will apex their Sam and run Sky coverage behind him. This can be good versus a run-heavy team because all the LBs are a quick trigger to their run fits. Where teams that function without a full cover down get exposed is at the safety position. By apexing the Sam, the defense has put the conflict player at the safety position while putting the safety in essentially man coverage. The weakness in this alignment is obviously at the safety position. It is hard for the safety to play man while attacking the LOS against the run. Where 4-2-5 teams that use 4-3 fits have an advantage is in the Ni Sam. The Ni in a full cover down allows him to get hands on the slot and gives immediate support to the safety (Saban even takes it a step further and aligns the Ni outside leverage of the slot). This relieves the safety’s conflict and creates an alley for him to run through. By utilizing a full cover down, the Ni Sam will wall the wide edge allowing the field safety (CS) and Mike to vice any run (for more information on this concept, there is a whole chapter in my BOOK on the topic).

The Over Front also puts the open “B” gap away from the field and limits the space for a Spread offense to work with. By aligning the 3 tech. to the RB, the defense has forced the offense to do two things: 1) run the ball into a six-man box, or 2) “flop” the read. “Flopping” the read means to go opposite the read or RB side. Many teams will not do this, especially at the lower levels. This is a technique that has to be practiced and repped by the offense, and not an easy adjustment to make. Here is a diagram of a “flop” read:

.02 READ FLOP

Essentially, the Over Front has forced the offense to be left-handed or do something it is not comfortable doing. In the image above, the offense is reading the conflict player, but that player is actually to the QB’s back if he were to turn to the read side. Against Pistol teams (and Spread), the Will can be quicker to fold because he sees the back of the QB and another reason why a “Field Call” is preferred when defending Spread Option teams (we will discuss “Field Calls” later). The mechanics, timing, and read are all different for the QB and why many offensive coordinators shy away from “flopping the read.

In order to reduce even more conflict, the front strength should always be set to the field versus 10 pers. 2×2. A “field” call allows the Nickel Sam a full cover down 100% of the time. The most dangerous player in any 10 pers. 2×2 set is the field slot (#2 WR). If a DC aways sets the front to the RB, the conflict player is now to the field and the offense can easily “flop” the read when the RB is into the boundary. If the offense is in the MOF, then the front should be set to the RB. Here is an example:

Where the Over Front is mostly utilized is against Power teams, mainly from 11p 2×2, 20p, and 21p. Most DCs will align in an Over Front to gain anchors towards the strength of the offense, and in most cases that is a TE or H-back. The Over Front is great versus Power formations because it stacks the defense’s strength on the strength of the offense. Below is a diagram explaining the advantages of the Over Front versus a typical Spread formation – 10p Doubles:

.01 Over Front

Field Call

Aligned with the Over Front is the Field Call when setting the strength. When a defense utilizes a field call, they are setting the front to the field regardless of where the RB is versus a 10p 2×2 formation. For instance, if the RB in a 10p 2×2 set were to be placed into the boundary (FIB – Formation into Boundary), the front would still align to the field. The theory in this alignment meshes with the original theory of the Over Front. By aligning the 3 tech. to the field, the offense is forced into limited space and the most dangerous WR in space, the field slot (#2), is completely eliminated from any RPOs. This alignment also allows a hybrid defense to bracket the slot to the field and play games with his coverage.

The Over Front and Field Call puts stress on the Will but that can be alleviated in several different ways. If a defense is utilizing gap exchange and a “heavy” 5 tech. to the weakside (we will discuss the “heavy” 5 technique later in the article), the Will can “hang” in his alignment. This “hang” technique allows the Will to clearly read the DEs path through to the mesh and react accordingly. The “hang” by the Will also muddies the read for the QB. See the diagram below:

04-base-fib-pull

Since the Will and weakside DE can exchange gaps, the Will is not in a hurry to fit the open “B” gap. Instead, the Will can pause and read his anchor point (the DE) and mesh. If the offense runs a zone away, the DE will chase the RB (Dive) and the Will takes the QB. If the offense zones to the Will, the weakside DE can rub into the “B” gap allowing the Will to hold the edge (force) and accept the RB if he bounces out the front door. By utilizing gap exchanges in the defensive structure, the defense can alleviate pressure and conflict on the Will or any LB for that matter. Running a 2-Read (Cloud) coverage into the boundary can also help the Will hang in the curl, allowing the aggressive CB to “trap” any RPO to the boundary.

Under Front

Opposite of the coaches that base in an Over Front is a set of coaches that utilize an Under Front when aligning their four-down defense. Proponents of the Under Front claim the front forces the RB to cut back into a crashing DE. Many teams that utilize the Under Front use a plus technique with the LBs. This alignment pluses the Mike to the open “B” gap to the field and the Will aligns in a 30 to the boundary. By doing this, the defense has double gapped the LBs allowing them to flow with the RB. If the offense runs a Zone Read, in theory, the QB will pull to a scraping Mike. The double gaping of the ILBs can be troublesome if the Mike doesn’t rock back. Here is an illustration:

.03 Under Front

The issue with the Under Front is in the overhangs. To defend the Spread, the defense must utilize their overhangs to eliminate easy throws and RPO reads. Putting the conflict player to the field opens up the defense to RPOs, mainly quick Bubble or Switch screens (hot slants too). These are high percentage throws and put the pressure on a player coming down from depth to make an open field tackle (CS). If the defense covers down the Will and uses the Sam as a fold player from the field, the defense is inviting the offense to throw quick screens all day to a man with unlimited space and a safety aligned from depth.

Even if an Under Front defense shifts the ILBs into the box, the Sam cannot fully cover down because he is the QB player. If the defense were to use the Mike as a scrape player and allow the Sam to cover down, the defense is a man short in coverage to the boundary. The main objective of any defense is to gain plus-1 numbers, whether versus the pass or run. By shifting the LBs to the field, the defense has opened itself up to quick screens to the boundary.

Where the Under Front earns its stripes is versus Trips or 3×1 formations. Even versus an 11p Trey set, it is in the best interest of the defense to align in an Under. The alignment maximizes cover downs and allows the Mike to vacate the box quickly versus pass or an outside run (ex. – Speed Option). The Under Front is also popular versus two-TE sets (mainly Ace and 22p Tite). The spacing of the anchor points (DL) helps the defense stay even against two extra gaps and aligns cleanly to help with Power (front side) and Counter (away side). Here is a diagram of Under Wide versus Ace:

03-ace-under-wide

Flexibility

The key to setting the strength boils down to flexibility. When defending a 10p Spread team, it is beneficial to set the front to the field unless they align in a 3×1 (check to Under). In 11p, it may be the best to align in an Over Front to 2×2, but when the offense aligns in Trey, the defense needs to take pause and understand what it might get (3×1 Rule = Check to Under). Putting the front in an Under might seem like it is the opposite of what a defense wants to do versus a TE, but the Under Front against Trey allows the defense to plus the Mike to his cover down (the #3 WR – TE). Where the defensive coaches really have to work and show flexibility is versus 20p (which I cover HERE – Over vs Under). Once the base rules of alignment are created the next step is how to play the Nose, Shade or G (2i), and the DEs, “Heavy” or “Wide.”

Choosing a Front

Much like setting the strength, there are several trains of thought on how to structure the actual front. Many lower level coaches like a Shade technique because it puts a player on the Center and guarantees he will be hit every play. Not a bad theory when you consider most teams are from the Gun. The other main popular front is the “G.” The “G” refers to the Nose. In a “G” Front, the Nose aligns on the inside of the Guard or 2i. Being able to utilize both of these fronts, and understanding how each affects the offense is crucial to developing a great front line defense

Shade vs “G”

Most coaches will agree, the Shade technique by a Nose is useful versus a team that runs a lot of Power. Having a Shade Nose allows him to cross face quicker on any block back by the Center. Against under center (UTC) or Pistol teams, a Shade can be a great way to anchor the middle of the line. Many times teams that are UTC or Pistol want to hit the Power in the “A” gap or right off the Center. By aligning the Nose in a Shade, the defense has placed an anchor point right where the offense wants to run the ball. If utilizing a lot of line movement that crosses the Nose over the Center, a Shade technique can be helpful.

The other popular alignment is the “G” or 2i Nose. This alignment is ideal versus the Spread or heavy zone teams because it spaces out the anchor points on the line and puts pressure on the Center to double team the Nose. By aligning in a “G,” the defense can better utilize gap exchanges because the DL has time to react to their off hand offensive lineman. The “G” also helps against teams that run Power and Counter. By placing the Nose in a “G” it gives the defense a solid structure versus both plays.

The “G” alignment also forces single-man blocking and creates difficulty when teams want to double team because the Center has to reach for the Nose. Lastly, a “G” alignment lends itself to line movement. If a defense uses a lot of line movement in its base scheme a 2i and 3 technique are very similar. The close proximity to the Guard allows the 3 and 2i the ability to cross face easily. If the Nose was aligned in a Shade he would have a long way to travel around the weak side Guard and is more likely to be pinned. Once a defensive staff has a plan for the Nose it can move on to the DEs and their alignments.

Heavy versus Wide Five Technique (Weakside DE)

.04 WidevsHeavy

In any defensive front, the side with the open “B” gap is the most critical piece of the front seven puzzle. For the most part, offenses want to attack the path of least resistance. Outside Pistol/UTC teams that want to hit their Power downhill in the “A” gap, offenses are looking to attack the open “B” gap. In my article on defending the Spread Option, I refer to it as the “Open Gap Philosophy.” Modern spread offenses are looking to attack the open “B” gap. The reason they do this is simple: 1) This is where the conflict player is located (RPO), and 2) This is where the DE that is responsible for the Dive is located (QB run game).

Spread offenses, especially RPO teams, want to constantly poke and prod at the conflict player. A conflict player is the OLB that is responsible for a gap in the box but must also cover down to a WR. In 10 pers. 2×2, the conflict player will be the OLB to the Nose’s side. He is responsible for the “B” gap as well as the QB. Teams that set their front away from the RB put extra pressure on this particular overhang, even if they double-gap their ILBs. See the illustration below (click HERE to see a Mini-Clinic on Defending the Zone Read that goes over “Flop” Reads):

Ex 2 (Flop)

As offenses began to spread the defense out, DCs had to figure out a way to reduce the conflict for the run/pass overhang. The simplest way to do this was to spin to single-high. By spinning to single-high versus spread formations, the DC could ensure that he had six men in the box and every gap was covered, thus eliminating any conflict players. The issue with single-high coverage became evident when spread offenses began attacking the seam players. Even if playing a match Cover 3 scheme (think Saban’s Rip/Liz) the overhangs are both left in a precarious situation. With little help, they are being asked to force the edges of the box while carrying verticals.

Gary Patterson at TCU developed a way to keep his DEs in their traditional roles as force players on the box (Wide 5s) while keeping the ILBs (Mike and Will) in the box. Without spinning to single-high, Patterson was able to design a defense that got a full cover down with the Nickle Sam to the field, reduced the conflict for the Will, and a six-man box. The only issues were to the backside where the Weak Safety (WS) and the CB were essentially in man. Here’s an example:

.05 TCU 4-2-5

In the diagram above, both defensive ends act as the force players. Boxing everything back to the two ILBs. To the front side of the coverage, the secondary is playing a three over two concept known as Read, or match Cover 2. The CB and safety are both reading the route of #2. If the slot runs an out route, the CB will trap it while the safety works to the top of #1. Essentially, the safety is the “topper” of the coverage, the CB takes any out route and holds the intermediate zone, and the Nickle covers the curl/flat or any push from the backfield. The Sam’s main role is to “hang” in the curl and close that window for the QB (high percentage throws – slants, spot).

To the backside of TCU’s coverage, the secondary must support the Will who is responsible for the “B” gap fit. The safety to the backside will play much like a safety would in any Quarters scheme. Both the CB and the safety will play a combo man coverage. The CB will play man on the #1 WR, but will not carry any quick unders (shallows – This is known in Saban terms as MOD coverage or “Man on Demand”). The safety will read the slot and essentially play man. Even if the WR runs an out route or a bubble, the safety is responsible to drive on it. The Will is a late support to any pass because his eyes are aggressively in the box. The coverage is a reverse of 2-Read to the front side. The CB is now the “topper” of the coverage and the safety will fit into the intermediate zone (curl).

The issue with this type of coverage is still found in the conflict player, in this case, the Will. The aggressiveness to the box allows for quick throws to the slot WR. Most spread offenses teach the slot to the conflict player to replace the man fitting the box when running an RPO slant or spot route. If the slot runs an out or a bubble, the safety is left in a one-on-one tackling situation. At the end of the day, the CB and the safety to the open “B” gap (weak) side are in man coverage with little to no help underneath.

One evolution in the spread RPO scheme is the lineman downfield issue. It is becoming ever increasingly hard to tell if the offensive line is pass protecting or firing off for a run play. This element of the RPO/Play-Action scheme forces the box defenders to react to the run, leaving open gaps and one-on-one situations for the secondary. Thus the creation of the “heavy” technique. Here’s a video describing the “heavy” concept:

In a “heavy” technique, the weakside DE will align in 5 tech. This technique requires the DE to read the Tackles departure. If the OT kick-steps for a pass, the DE will hold the outside and pass rush. Any out or base block by the OT and the DE will “rub” inside to the open “B” gap. If the OT steps down or sifts up to the LB, the DE will chase down the line. Versus option, this DE is the Dive player. The LB, seeing the departure of the Tackle will react accordingly by “snapping” to the outside gap.

.06 KSU 4-3

When utilizing the “heavy” technique, there are two ways to play your DE, “tite” or “tilt.” The “tite 5” technique will hold the outside-eye of the Tackle (consider it a 4o instead of a 4i). Another way to align the “heavy” DE is shown in the diagram above. Kansas State utilizes a “tilt 5” to gain the same movement as a “tite 5.” Kansas State will utilize both depending on the splits of the offensive line. The video shown before of  Texas utilizing a “flop” read against Kansas State’s front shows a “tite 5” by the field DE. When the OT blocked out, the DE rubbed allowing the field OLB work to the “C” gap. Here’s another look at the play:

Where the “heavy” technique earns its stripes is through gap exchanges. The technique allows the weakside DE to be aggressive. The OLB to the weak side can “hang” in the “hot” window versus the pass and spread sets, or rock outside versus two-back runs (illustrated below). In the video below, the “B” gap LB is allowed to rock outside as the OT climbs to block him. His goal is to replace the fit of the DE. As the DE closes the window on the “B” gap, the LB will insert on the inside shoulder of the H-back (“C” gap). In theory, there is a man on the inside and outside shoulder of the Tackle, all without allowing him to touch anyone. This movement helps the DE spill the play to an unblocked LB. See below:

One disadvantage to the “heavy” technique is when an offense has a Tackle that can “squat and punch.” This technique by the OT can hinder the exchange by the DE and LB. In the “squat and climb” technique, the Tackle will punch the DE, pause, and squat. This split second hold holds up the DE and hesitates the LB allowing the RB to insert in the “B” gap behind the now climbing Tackle. Another way offenses can take advantage of a “heavy’ technique is to swipe the Tackle. In a swipe, the Tackle will flash the DE with a base block look sending the DE rubbing inside. The Tackle will backslap the DE and climb to the rocking LB. Think of it as an Arc Read without an H-back. Here is an example of the “squat and punch” technique:

Whole Front Structures

The Over “G” Front

.07 Over G

The Over “G” Front tends to be the most popular front when it comes to defending spread offenses. As stated earlier, utilizing a 2i instead of a Shade Nose allows the defense to spread out the DL, creating one-on-one blocks. The strongside DE is aligned in a “Wide 5” because he is the QB player (“B” gap is occupied by the 3 tech.). To the weak side, the DE is in a “Heavy 5” and is reading the Tackle to help the “B” gap LB (conflict player). When utilizing a “heavy 5” it is important to teach the pop-and-look technique. This technique by the DE allows him to engage the Tackle (pop) and peek his head inside (look). Since he can rub into the “B” it is ok if he commits. Where teams that use a “heavy” technique can add a man to the fit is when the RB/QB bounces and the DE now snaps back outside. Here is an example:

Another advantage to the “G” Front is the spacing of the interior linemen for line movement. Whether utilizing interior line movement or twisting the line, a “G” Front gives the Nose a chance to get to the edge and cross the Guards face. One way to combat spread offenses or any offense that wants to attack the “B” gap is to use interior line movement to change the open gap and reads for the QB in the spread option.

Here’s a look at the two main fronts:

Below are illustrations of how each side of the Over “G” Front fits a typical zone offense from a 10 pers. 2×2 set:

Strongside 

.12 Strongside Fits

Weakside

.13 Weakside Fits

The “Wide 5” Front

.10 Wide 5

The “Wide 5’s” main objective is to box everything and force the offense into tight space. In this type of front, the “conflicted” LB is allowed to fold because of the coverage behind him. Defenses that utilize the “Wide 5” Front will base out of a Quarters (Sky) scheme to the “B” gap LB. When defending the Spread, primarily a 10 pers. 2×2 set, the side to the fold player will run 4-Read. Quarters is pseudo-man coverage. This puts the safety to the conflict player in the intermediate zone and must drive on an underneath route. The folding LB will be late support in the pass (illustrated earlier in the article).

The “Hybrid” Front

.14 HYBRID 3-4

One interesting development in defensive football is the evolution of the “hybrid” four-man front. The 3-4 has some obvious qualities that would make it attractive to teams that defend the spread on a regular basis. First, the speed that is allowed to be on the field can match that of a 10 pers. heavy spread team. Second, with defensive lineman a premium, a 3-4 is a great way to get small without losing structure. Finally, a 3-4 hybrid defense allows the defensive coordinator to be multiple in his attack of the spread. With an extra coverage defender, a DC can have the luxury of kicking to 3×1 formations.

The structure of the Okie Front combined with a “heavy 5” gives the DC a “free” player at the Mike. Simplifying the fits is another great example of why the Okie Front has become somewhat en vogue at the college and high school levels. The Will is automatically an “A” gap player and can be used as a “spy” in the passing game against dual-threat QBs. To the weak side, the Jack is an automatic force and when combined with Cloud coverage can “hang” near the box and quickly sink to the “curl” window if pass. Maybe the main reason the Hybrid 3-4 is so popular is the expanded use of hybrid players.

Hybrid Players – The Future of Football

Hybrid players are nothing new to football. In fact, the 4-2-5 was developed to house an extra strong safety. The old Rover position has now been placed permanently near the box as the Nickle Sam. As football moves into the future, hybrid players that can be plugged into multiple spots without the defense losing structure or run support is the new standard. The 3-4 is nothing new, and ironically enough, the Over Front, one of the oldest fronts in football, is being used to combat the explosion of Spread and Pro Spread offenses. Matching speed with speed is an obvious step in the evolution of defense.

The Dime package, that was once used as 3rd and long or end of the half situations, is now becoming many teams base defenses. What makes the 3-4 Okie so enticing is that four-down teams can maneuver seamlessly from a 4-2-5 to a 3-4 Okie and only need to substitute a DE. The Okie is nothing more than an Under Front to 4-3 or 4-2-5 DCs. The ability to be multiple without being complex is a luxury many defensive coaches would like to have. The ability to sub out one player, especially against tempo spread offenses, is something every defensive coach is looking for. Here is a look at how the 3-4 Okie can morph into a Dime Package by taking out the Will (or the Jack – Will covers down to #2 weak):

.16 Dime

Teams that base out of an Okie Front still tend to be four-down versus two-back sets and some spread. The ability for coaches to change how the defense looks is something the hybrid 3-4 gives to DCs. Teams that base in a 3-4 house several different fronts to challenge offenses that run the spread:

  • The Okie Front – This is the base for most hybrid 3-4 teams and functions similarly to the 4-3/4-2-5’s Under Front.
  • Tite Front – Also know as the 404. This front puts the DEs in 4i’s and pinches the “B” gaps. The advantage here is that the open “B” gap is not there. The theory is that by pinching the DEs, everything will bounce to the OLBs and the “free” playing Mike. Most defenses utilize a Cloud coverage behind this front to give the OLBs the ability to be aggressive and near to the line of scrimmage (LOS).
  • Buck Front – The Buck front is used in most Dime packages and is also referred to as the 505. This front can service a DC in several ways. The DC can choose to play both DEs in a “heavy” technique (functioning like the Tite Front), the weakside DE in a “heavy,” or utilize the DEs to box everything and force the offense into the middle of the field. The latter example is used in most pass rushing situations.
  • Okie “Over Front – 3-4 teams can get into an Over Front by moving the interior lineman towards the “big” DE and attaching the Jack. Both DE’s will serve as “wide 5s” and the Will is required to fold into the “B” gap. This front functions much like TCU’s “wide” front demonstrated earlier. This front allows the hybrid 3-4 to get into a four-down look and function in the same way a 4-2-5 plays versus the run and pass. This allows the Will to stay in the box and the Jack, who is a faster DE to rush the passer against a less athletic Tackle. See the image below:

.17 Okie Over

Here are the run fits for the Okie and Okie Over Fronts:

.18 Okie Fits

Conclusion

Great defensive coaches can see the whole picture of a structure and can predict what the offense might do in order to combat the integrity of each front. Being multiple and the ability to adapt are two critical pieces in the ever-growing arms race that is modern football. The only way to gain flexibility is to understand multiple forms of defense and player development.

As stated earlier, every defender on the field is a link in the chain. The ebbs and flows of the game are dependent on all links working in unison. Offenses have the advantage of knowing where they will go. It is the defenses responsibility to challenge the offense at every turn. All defensive coaches understand that the fronts ability to pass rush and stop the run are critical to winning any ball game. Where elite defensive coaches break themselves from the pack is in how they structure their defense and being able to adapt their scheme to not only fit their personnel but the offenses they go up against. Each front shown in this article brings with it its own sets of challenges, but each can be used as a base if structured right. Bottom line, know your WHY.

** Author’s Note **

“Knowledge is Power”. Those words were on a sign that hung in every defensive meeting room at the Baylor Football complex from 2011 to 2016. Front and center. Those words have always resonated with me since I first stepped foot into the Baylor Football complex in 2011 and began working with then-defensive coordinator Phil Bennett. Understanding how a defense functions, starting with the front end and working to the back end, is critical to developing a championship scheme. I will never forget Coach Bennett talking to me in our daily pre-practice meeting about being a complete coach. He didn’t want me to be someone that is a “jack of all trades but a master of none” or a coach that can only see the front or the coverage. He challenged me daily to see the defense as a whole unit, what I call “links in a chain.” Sees the whole picture. Defense is like a spider web. Structure gives a defense strength and allows it to catch what is coming at it.

If looking for more information on topics discussed in this article, click the links provided throughout (they should open up in a new window). Many of the concepts talked about are also covered in detail within MQ’s book, “Cautious Aggression” or are housed in MQ’s Link Book (feel free to bookmark the page). Enjoy!

 

© 2018, MatchQuarters.com | Cody Alexander | All rights reserved.


Have a philosophy and go deeper than just X’s and O’s. MQ’s book is available on Amazon and Kindle (& now through PDF — Just click SHOP in the Menu):

Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football

As always, support the site by following me on Twitter (@The_Coach_A) and spreading the word to your coaching friends by liking and retweeting the articles you read (even sharing them via Facebook and LinkedIn).

Do not hesitate to contact me with questions through the site’s CONTACT page or through my DM on Twitter. I enjoy speaking with you guys (iron sharpens iron).

– Coach A. | #ArtofX

8 thoughts on “Structuring Your Defense – The Front”

Leave a Reply