Defensive Line Manual

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DEFENSIVE PHILOSOPHY- GET THE BALL BACK!

It doesn’t matter if the offense has ten turnovers in a game and doesn’t score, every time we take the field, our job is to to put the ball back in their their hands. Whether that means forcing the opponent to punt, recovering a fumble, intercepting a pass, stopping them after 20 plays, or forcing a field goal, we are going to give the offense as many opportunities to score as possible. If the offense does not score enough points to win the game, the defense did not provide enough opportunities for them. Period. An attacking defensive unit’s success depends on each player’s ability to be a disciplined an d conditioned individual who is fundamentally sound, has amazing practice habits and an incredible team attitude. If often does not matter matter how big, fast or strong strong a player is, it it is the low man gets the job done on defense. An attacking defensive mentality involves involves quick pressure on the passer, passer, taking away the opponents favorite running and passing plays, making pre-snap reads difficult, putting the best athletes in positions to make big plays, and playing at a high velocity that allows all eleven players to be in on the tackle. Given the choices, most coaches would say they want to win with defense and good defense begins with good defensive line play. Not only are linemen the first with a chance to stop the run, but also the first with a chance to stop the pass. pass. If they make things difficult for the quarterback, quarterback, the secondary doesn’t have to make a play. Defensive linemen must also make make the supreme team sacrifice sacrifice by occupying as many  blockers as possible on every play. In doing that, the linebackers will will remain free having better better vision and mobility to see and chase the ball. The base package that the techniques contained in this manual are developed around is an even front which puts defenders in excellent positions for defending the multiple sets and blocking schemes in football. Even alignments are shade and target oriented which allow vision and block b lock protection, the ability to beat half a man and prevents defensive lineman for getting hooked. The entire defensive team will be successful succe ssful if you buy into the following fundamentals: PROPER STANCE EXPLOSIVE GET-OFF QUICK STRIKE AND CONTROL SEPARATION FROM THE BLOCKER  ESCAPING FROM THE BLOCKER  PURSUIT TO THE BALL TACKLING CELEBRATING SUCCESS WITH YOUR TEAMMATES

“DON’T WORRY ABOUT FIRST DOWNS, FIELD GOALS, YARDS OR BIG PLAYS—PREVENT  TOUCHDOWNS!” 

1

ATTITUDE – WHERE IT ALL BEGINS

You have to posses a certain simple attitude to play on the defensive line and that attitude is to eliminate and terminate every play. Defensive linemen need to believe that with correct fundamentals and non-stop motor, they can have an impact on the outcome of every play. They may not be in on the tackle, or  get a sack, but can they push that offensive guard back far enough to step on the quarterback’s toes? Can they push back a drive block so the running back has to change his track? Can they get a hand up on a pass  play to make the quarterback change the trajectory of his throw? Can they occupy both blockers in a double team without losing ground to free the linebacker up? The attitude has something to do with aggressiveness and like a certain NFL coach said, “If they don’t bite when they’re pups, they’re probably not going to bite when they’re bigger.” But more than anything it comes from a trust in their fundamentals and a belief that they can win every time the ball is snapped. This trust in their fundamentals is critical because offensive linemen and their blocking combinations will never lie about what is happening, so that is where the focus should be. A defensive lineman is a special breed of player and must first of all be physically though. This means playing hard with bumps and bruises and giving themselves up occasionally so others in b etter   positions can make plays. They must be mentally though and be able to play the same way every play whether they are up or down 3 touchdowns. They must be enthusiastic and believe that every snap is  potentially a great play waiting to happen. They must be intimidating and not just hit people but strike them, explode them and punish them. Being a mean and nasty guy between the lines can often make up for a lot of   physical deficiencies. Great defensive linemen posses an explosive get-off which comes form developing a proper stance and training their eyes and ears. They strike on the rise, react, and re-direct to changes in front of them. They possess great hands that are quick and strong allowing them to shed blockers or get unblocked. This is usually what separates your players from being all-conference and all-state/American. They keep their  shoulders square with the line scrimmage until the ball carrier is past them and understand and concept of  gap responsibility. They have great feet, the ability to run sideline to sideline and make tackles down field. Finally, they possess the capacity, desire and trust to LEARN correct individual technique, your defensive scheme and the game of football.

“80 PLAYS = 80 PLAYS”

2

THE COMPONENTS OF THE BATTLE (A TEACING PROGRESSION) THE FUNDAMENTALS: 1. STANCE- WEIGHT IS FORWARD like a sprinter, inside hand down a majority of the plays, toes within the frame of the shoulders, eyes are focused on the ball. The ability to get the job done is entirely based on a coiled and potentially explosive stance. 2. GET OFF- BALL MOVEMENT triggers an EXPLOSIVE attack every play. The first two steps are the most important and reactions will occur by the third step. 3. STRIKE-with head level BELOW THE OFFENSIVE MAN’S CHIN, ATTACK the breast plate and  EXPLODE the hips through. Your hands should finish higher than your eyes with the THUMBS UP. 4. SEPARATION- PRESS the man away from you and LOCK the elbows out while gaining ground and regaining the line of scrimmage. The shoulders must be square with the line of scrimmage to control your gap until the ball is past you. 5. ESCAPE- Get UNBLOCKED. The thought process here is “ HANDS ON, HANDS OFF.” If you are in an outside shade you will want to fight to maintain your outside arm free. If you are in a defeated  position, you must get off the block by using a ‘press, rip and run’ technique to get the back half of  your body through. The only way a defensive lineman can accept losing a fight is if he has occupied 2 blockers in a double team and hasn’t lost ground, or is under a pile and hasn’t lost ground. 6. ALIGNMENT and ASSIGNMENT - AVE A CLUE, people don’t play unless they know where to line up and where to go. Learn the game, learn the package, and study the game! THE TECHNIQUES: 7. READING THE KEYS- LEARN what the target hip is telling you and learn how to beat a base  block, down block and reach block first. 8. PASS RUSH- ATTACK every play like a pass until it turns into a run. Develop the ability to get up field and in the quarterback’s face. 9. BLOCK PROTECTION- LEARN what the block combination ‘triangles’ say about a play. Learn how to beat a double team, inside and outside pulls and influence (trap) block. THE EFFORT  10. PURSUIT- SPRINT to the ball wherever it is on the field and expect to have something good happen when you get there. 11. FINISHING- Finishing a play means CREATING TURNOVERS by stripping the ball from the ball carrier or getting hands in the air to disrupt the quarterbacks vision.

“BUY INTO YOUR FUNDAMENTALS AND TAKE CARE OF WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL” 

3

TEACHING THE COMPONENTS

One of the quickest ways to build the self-confidence in a player is by teaching him how to win his one-on-one battle each play. Players that are successful and confident in their own abilities takes the field  better prepared to execute your defensive scheme. The basis of teaching good defensive line play begins with the eyes, A players eyes not only tell him where to align and what to anticipate, but also help him concentrate on his gap responsibilities. When the  ball is snapped, the eyes will give the sense of positioning and leverage required to defeat a blocking combination. It is important for players to see their keys because they will take him to the ball each and every time. It is equally important to eyeball their target when making contact to deliver a blow instead of  receiving one. It is important to always focus on the back tip of the ball to avoid jumping offside. At the same time, defensive linemen should take notice of the offensive man’s knuckles. If he’s heavy in his stance and the knuckles are white, it is most likely a run. If he’s light in his stance and the knuckles are normal, it is most likely a pass, screen or draw. You can have your interior linemen develop a code and talk back and forth to each other about what they are seeing. White/heavy stance knuckles might be ‘pigs.’ Normal/light stance knuckles might be ‘birds.’ If they both say ‘birds’ it’s pass, screen or draw. If it’s ‘pig’ for one and ‘birds’ for the other it’s a trap or counter play. In conjunction with training the eyes, you should also train the ears. Condition your defensive linemen to focus on your own line calls and not dummy offensive calls to avoid jumping offside. Fundamentally, this emphasis can be reinforced when teaching stance, start and strike drills. The second area of emphasis are a player’s feet. At all positions, proper footwork is vital to  becoming a great technician because they provide positioning and power but they are even more important for a defensive lineman because every decision must be made by the third step. If a player can maintain his feet pointed into the man or direction he wants to go within the first tow steps while regaining the line of  scrimmage, chances are that he will be successful. Fundamentally, this emphasis can be reinforced in strike and block protection drills. The third area of emphasis is the hands. Hand speed and hand placement are critical when neutralizing the blocker and tackling a ball carrier. Teaching a player where to put his hands will help him win the battle. Fundamentally, this emphasis can be reinforced strike and separation drills.

4

ALIGNMENT

These different alignment positions are called “techniques” and all defensive linemen should eventually know all of them and learn block protection to defend from the best possible position. Knowing these techniques will allow defensive linemen to be successful in any defensive package. It will also allow coaches to communicate with them in practices and games. D-GAP 9 6

7

5

4I

3

1

4

C-GAP

S

2

B-GAP

W

1

0

A-GAP

3

4I

2

A-GAP

5 4

B-GAP

D-GAP 7 9 6

C-GAP

O Technique- Plays nose-up on the center  S/W Shade- Plays on the outside eye or shoulder of the center  A Gap- Splits the difference in the center-guard gap 1 Technique- Plays inside eye or shoulder of the guard 2 Technique- Plays head up the guard 3 Technique- Plays on the outside eye or shoulder of the guard B GapSplits the difference in the guard-tackle gap 4I Technique- Plays on the inside shoulder of the tackle 5 Technique- Plays on the outside shoulder of the tackle Spilts the difference in the tackle-tight-end gap C Gap7 Technique- Plays on the inside eye or shoulder of the tight-end 6 Technique- Plays head up on the nose of the tight-end 9 Technique- Plays on the outside eye or shoulder of the eight-end 8 Technique- Plays wide of the tight-end and can be aligned on or off the L.O.S D GapArea outside the tight-end or slot back  READING THE ‘TARGETS’ OF THE TECHNIQUES: Once they’ve figured out where to line up, defensive linemen should focus on the target hip of the offensive linemen and first learn what to do against a down block, reach block and a drive block. In a nutshell, if the hip disappears, it is running play. If the hip retreats, it is a pass. If the hip opens, the play will  be a quick toss or other outside play. Understanding how to effectively play in any defensive front requires an understanding of what is happening locally first before expanding to block combinations or “triangles.” BLOCKING TERMINOLOGY Use the following tree to understand the blocking terminology used throughout this section. G

OUTSIDE PULL INFLUENCE

INSIDE PULL

DRIVE

REACH

DOWN

DL

5

C

BLOCK PROTECTION

Block protection refers to dealing with the multiple, yet basic blocking combinations or “triangles.” Although the offensive scheme you face may differ from week to week- Pro, One back, Run and Shoot, Option, Fly- they’ve all got down or veer blocks, drive blocks, influence blocks, inside pulls, outside pulls, screen or draw blocks, double teams and fold blocks. Once the player can master block protection for his  primary alignment or technique, the offense you play and the defense that they’re in won’ matter.

BLOCK PROTECTION FOR THE 9 TECHNIQUE

Y T G

ZONE TO YOU- TE and near linemen zone step to you. Running back is looking for a crease and is coming your way. Attack your target hip up field, maintain outside leverage and keep the outside arm free without being pushed too far  outside. Make the back bounce towards the sideline.

Y T G

ZONE AWAY FROM YOU- Tight end zone steps inside looking for a linebacker. Running back is looking for a crease away from your side with potential cutback. Get your hands on the tight end to keep him off the linebacker, look inside and chase hard down the line of scrimmage.

Y T G

TIGHT END/TACKLE X BOX- Tight end blocks inside, tackle comes to block  you. Generally a strong lead play to the B or C gap. Get your hands on the tight end to keep him off the linebacker, attack the tackle inside and drive him back  where he came from.







Y T G R 

Y T G R 

TIGHT END DRIVE BLOCK- Tight end attempts to drive you away from the C gap. Attack your target maintaining outside leverage and drive the tight end back  where he came from. If the play is in the C gap, the further up field you are , the worse off you are. Upon recognition, stay near the L.O.S. and squeeze. Fullback  may also be leading through the C gap. VERTICAL RELEASE/HINGE- Tight end release on a pass route vertical or  with an inside release. Get some hands on the tight end and focus on a spot three yards behind the offensive tackle’s set and beat him there. If he strikes you, it’s  pass; if he tries to punch you past, it’s screen or draw so retrace your steps and work back towards the line of scrimmage.

6

BLOCK PROTECTION FOR THE 7 TECHNIQUE

Y

T

G

ZONE TO YOU- TE may bang you and chip to the LB. Tackle zone steps to you. Running back is looking for crease and is coming your way. Explode up field, you’ll get banged by the tackle. When you feel the triangle move, stay in your gap and continue to get vertical at a 45 degree angle in that direction without being  pushed too far outside.

T

G

ZONE AWAY FROM YOU- TE zone steps to you, tackle zone steps inside. Running back is looking for a crease away from your side with potential cutback. Explode up field, you’ll get banged by the TE. When you feel the triangle move, stay in your gap and chase hard down the L.O.S.

T

G

SPLIT (TE OUT/TACKLET DOWN)- “2 steps, no contact, find the guard.” TE releases outside, tackle blocks down inside. Backside guard is looking to kick you out on a counter trey. Explode up field and get your hands on the TE. When you feel hung out to dry, look inside, attack flat down the line and blow up the pulling guard by attacking his inside thighboard. If the near guard come to you, squeeze him in.

T

G

POSITITION/INSIDE PULL- More than likely, it is counter trey away from you. Beat the position block by the TE and chase the tackles hips down the L.O.S.

T

G

DOUBLE TEAM- TE is the post man, tackle is the drive man. Work to split the double vertical by getting skinny on the TE. Keep the feet moving, work to occupy  both blockers and maintained the L.O.S. If you are losing ground, hit the deck and cause a pile.

T

G

TE DOWN/OUTSIDE PULL- TE blocks down on you, tackle pulls outside. If  you’ve regained the L.O.S. and your head is up field, maintain vertical push, play it inside out, and try to disrupt the tackle or guards tracks. If you haven’t regained the L.O.S., press, rip and run under the TE’s block (if the RB is already outside you) and play fast down the L.O.S.

T

G

VERTICAL RELEASE/HINGE- Tight end releases on a pass route vertical or  with an inside release. Get some hand son the tight end and focus on a spot three yards behind the offensive tackle’s set and beat him there. If he strikes you, it’s  pass; if he tries to punch you past, it’s screen or draw so retrace.

R  Y R 

Y R 

Y R 

Y R 

Y R  Y R 

7

BLOCK PROTECTION FOR THE 5 TECHNIQUE

T G

ZONE TO YOU- Tackle and guard zone step to you. Running back is look for a crease and is coming your way. Attack the tackle up field, maintain outside leverage and keep the outside arm free without being pushed too far outside. Make the back bounce towards the sideline.

T G

ZONE AWAY FROM YOU- Tackle zone steps inside. Running back is looking for a crease away from you with the potential cutback. When you feel the tackle move away, try to get your hands on him to keep the LB free and chase hard down the L.O.S.

T G

TACKLE DOWN/GUARD X BLOCK- Get hands on the tackle to keep him off  the LB and look inside down the L.O.S. If near guard whacks you right away, squeeze him back where he came form without getting too far up field. If the guard comes, blow him up by attacking the inside thighboard.

T G

TACKLE DRIVE- Strike the tackle maintaining outside leverage without getting to far up field. Squeeze him towards the center with the idea of creating a smaller  running lane on a weak lead or weak give.

T G

TACKLE/GUARD INSIDE PULL- Counter trey away from you. As you feel the tackle release flat inside, get on his hips and chase down the L.O.S. You may be  blocked by a slot back in a trip formation or by the fullback in a pro set. Tackle may tip this play by being slightly off the ball.

T G

TACKLE DOWN/FAR GUARD KICK OUT- Counter trey at you. Explode up field and try to get your hands on the tackle to keep him off the LB. Look inside down the L.O.S. The backside guard is looking to kick you out so you should attack down the line and blow him up by throwing your off arm toward his inside thighboard. Block him before he blocks you. Eyeball the QB for possible counterkeep pass and be prepared to retrace your steps down the line of scrimmage. Don’t chase the QB from the inside out.













T G R 

HINGE/KICK SLIDE- Tackle retreats into a pass set. Focus on a spot three yards  behind the offensive tackle’s set and beat him there. If he strikes you, it’s pass. If  he tires to punch or push you past, retrace your steps for screen or draw.

8

BLOCK PROTECTION FOR THE WIDE 5 TECHNIQUE

T G R 

T G

ZONE AWAY FROM YOU- Tackle zone steps inside. Running back is looking for a crease away from your side with potential cutback. Chase hard down the L.O.S.

T G

TACKLE DOWN/GUARD X BLOCK- Squeeze with the tackle’s down block  and look inside down the L.O.S. If near guard whacks you right away, squeeze him  back where he came form without getting too far up field.





T G

TACKLE DRIVE- Strike the tackle maintaining outside leverage without getting to far up field. Squeeze him towards the center with the idea of creating a smaller  running lane on a weak lead or weak give.

T G

TACKLE/GUARD INSIDE PULL- Counter trey away from you. As you feel the tackle release flat inside, get on his hips and chase down the L.O.S. You may be  blocked by a slot back in a trip formation or by the fullback in a pro set blocking away from the play. Tackle may tip this play by being slightly off the ball. Eyeball the QB for possible Counter keep pass and be prepared to retrace your steps. Don’t chase the QB from the inside out.

T G

TACKLE DOWN/FAR GUARD KICK OUT- Counter trey at you. Explode up field and try to get your hands on the tackle to keep him off the LB. Look inside down the L.O.S. The backside guard is looking to kick you out so you should attack down the line and blow him up by throwing your off arm toward his inside thigh. Block him before he blocks you.

T G

HINGE/KICK SLIDE- Tackle retreats into a pass set. Focus on a spot three yards  behind the offensive tackle’s set and beat him there. If he strikes you, it’s pass. If  he tires to punch you past, retrace for a draw.









ZONE TO YOU- Tackle zone steps outside but may not get to you because of  width. With two backs, you may get the fullback at you. Running back is looking for a crease and is coming your way. Attack up field, maintain outside leverage and keep the outside arm free without being pushed too far outside. Know that the inside linebacker has the B gap and don’t over commit there. Make the back   bounce towards the sideline.

9

BLOCK PROTECTION FOR THE 4I TECHNIQUE

T

G

T T

G

ZONE AWAY FROM YOU- Guard zone steps inside, tackle zone steps toward you. Running back is looking for a crease away from your side with potential cutback. Explode up field, you’ll get banged by the tackle. When you feel the triangle move, stay in your gap and chase hard down the L.O.S.

G

SPLIT (T to LB/GUARD DOWN)- T releases to block LB, guard blocks down inside. Backside guard is looking to trap you. Explode up field, get your hands on the guard’s down block. Looking inside, plant on the inside foot and attack the trapping guard. Idea is to create a pile, not to make the tackle.

G

SPLIT (T to LB/GUARD INFLUENCE)- T releases to block LB, guard influences with a quick pass set and vacates outside to block the DE. Backside guard is looking to trap you. Explode up field. Once you feel hung out to dry, look  inside and attack the trapping guard to create a pile.

G

TACKLE DOWN/ INSIDE PULL- Tackle blocks down on you, guard pulls outside. Explode up field and try to get your hands on the guard. If you’ve regained the L.O.S. and your head is up field, maintain vertical push and play it inside out. If you haven’t regained of the L.O.S., press, rip and run under the tackle’s block and play flat down the L.O.S.

G

DOUBLE- Tackle is the past man, guard is the drive man. Work to spilt the double vertical by getting skinny on the tackle. Keep the feet moving, work to occupy both blockers and maintain the L.O.S. If you are losing ground, hit the deck and cause a pile.

T

T T

T T

T T

T T T T

ZONE TO YOU- Tackle zone steps out, guard zones steps to you. Running back  is looking for a crease and coming your way. When you feel the triangle move, stay in your gap, fight the guard’s block and continue to get vertical at a 45 degree angle in that direction without being pushed too far outside.

G

PASS SET- Guard retreats into a pass set. Focus on a spot three yards behind the guard’s set and beat him there. If he strikes you, it’s you, it’s pass. If he tries to  punch or push you past, retrace your steps for screen or draw.

10

BLOCK PROTECTION FOR THE 3 TECHNIQUE

G

C

ZONE TO YOU- Tackle zone steps out, guard zones steps to you. Running back  is looking for a crease and coming your way. When you feel the triangle move, stay in your gap, fight the guard’s block and continue to get vertical at a 45 degree angle in that direction without being pushed too far outside.

G

C

ZONE AWAY FROM YOU- Guard zone steps inside, tackle zone steps toward you. Running back is looking for a crease away from your side with potential cutback. Explode up field, you’ll get banged by the tackle. When you feel the triangle move, stay in your gap and chase hard down the L.O.S.

G

C

SPLIT (T to LB/GUARD DOWN)- T releases to block LB, guard blocks down inside. Backside guard is looking to trap you. Explode up field, get your hands on the guard’s down block. Looking inside, plant on the inside foot and attack the trapping guard. Idea is to create a pile, not to make the tackle.

G

C

SPLIT (T to LB/GUARD INFLUENCE)- T releases to block LB, guard influences with a quick pass set and vacates outside to block the DE. Backside guard is looking to trap you. Explode up field. Once you feel hung out to dry, look  inside and attack the trapping guard to create a pile.

G

C

TACKLE DOWN/ OUTSIDE PULL- Tackle blocks down on you, guard pulls outside. Explode up field and try to get your hands on the guard. If you’ve regained the L.O.S. and your head is up field, maintain vertical push and play it inside out. If you haven’t regained of the L.O.S., press, rip and run under the tackle’s block and play flat down the L.O.S.

G

C

DOUBLE- Tackle is the past man, tackle is the drive man. Work to spilt the double vertical by getting skinny on the guard. Keep the feet moving, work to occupy both blockers and maintain the L.O.S. If you are losing ground, hit the deck and cause a pile.

G

C

PASS SET- Guard retreats into a pass set. Focus on a spot three yards behind the guard’s set and beat him there. If he strikes you, it’s you, it’s pass. If he tries to  punch or push you past, retrace your steps for screen or draw.

T

T

T

T

T

T

T

11

BLOCK PROTECTION FOR THE 1 TECHNIQUE

G

C

ZONE TO YOU- Guard zone steps out, center zone steps to you. Running back is looking for a crease and is coming your way. Explode up field, you’ll get banged  by the center. When you feel the triangle move, stay in your gap and continue to get vertical at a 45 degree angel in that direction without being pushed too far  outside.

C

ZONE AWAY FROM YOU- Guard zone steps to you, center zone steps away. Running back is looking for a crease away from your side with potential cutback. Explode up field, you’ll get banged by the guard. When you feel the triangle move, stay in your gap and chase hard down the L.O.S

C

CENTER BACK/INSIDE PULL- Guard flat pulls inside, center blocks back to you. Explode up field and try to get your hands on the guard. When you feel the inside pull, get on the guard’s hip and chase him down the L.O.S. Play off the center’s back block depending on how far up field you are and continue down the L.O.S.

C

DOUBLE- Guard is the post man, center is the drive man. Work to split the double vertical by getting skinny on the guard. Keep the feet moving, work to occupy both blockers and maintain the L.O.S. If you are losing ground, hit the deck and cause a pile.

N G N

G N G N G N

C

PASS SET- Guard and/or center retreats into a pass set. Focus on a spot three yards behind the guard’s set and beat him there. If he strikes you, it’s pass. If he tires to punch or push you past, retrace your steps for screen or draw.

“STRIKE ON THE RINSE”  CHRIS JAY, JUSTIN DIEDRICK, NATE BLOXON - MOUNTAINEER FOOTBALL 1997 

12

BLOCK PROTECTION FOR THE SHADE TECHNIQUE

G

C

ZONE TO YOU- Guard zone steps out, center zone steps to you. Running back is looking for a crease and is coming your way. Explode up field, you’ll get banged  by the center. When you feel the triangle move, stay in your gap and continue to get vertical at a 45 degree angel in that direction without being pushed too far  outside.

C

ZONE AWAY FROM YOU- TE zone steps to you, tackle zone steps inside. Running back is looking for a crease away from your side with potential cutback. Explode up field, you’ll get banged by the TE. When you feel the triangle move, stay in your gap and chase hard down the L.O.S.

N G N

G

C N

G

C

DOUBLE- Center is the post man, guard is the drive man. Work to split the double vertical by getting skinny on the guard. Keep the feet moving, work to occupy both blockers and maintain the L.O.S. If you are losing ground, hit the deck and cause a pile.

C

PASS SET- Guard and/or center retreats into a pass set. Focus on a spot three yards behind the guard’s set and beat him there. If he strikes you, it’s pass. If he tires to punch or push you past, retrace your steps for screen or draw.

N G N

CENTER BACK/INSIDE PULL- Guard flat pulls inside, center blocks back at you. Explode up field and try to get your hands on the guard. When you feel the inside pull, get on the guard’s hip and chase him down the L.O.S. Play off the center’s back block depending on how far up field you are and continue down the L.O.S.

“THIS IS MY AREA AND I AM NOT GOING TO BE BLOCKED” 

13

BLOCK PROTECTION FOR 0 (also 2,4,6,8) TECHNIQUE Technique varies slightly with a 0 technique. Weight distribution will be slightly back and off the hand so the nose can feel what the center is doing a little better.

OL DL

OL DL OL DL OL DL

ZONE BOTH WAYS- Center zone steps to your shoulder in an attempt to reach  block you. Running back is looking for a crease moving the same way the center  is. When you feel the center move, keep your hands on him and try to run him into the backfield in the direction he wants to go. At the very lease, you should be able to run him flat and keep him off the linebacker. DOUBLE- Center is the post man, guard is the drive man. Work to split the double vertical by getting skinny on the center. Keep the feet moving, work to occupy both blockers and maintain the L.O.S. If you are losing ground, hit the deck and cause a pile.

PASS SET- Guard and/or center retreats into a pass set. Focus on a spot three yards behind the center’s set and drive him there. If the center sets and strikes you, it’s pass. If he soft sets and tires to punch or guide you up field, retrace your steps for screen or draw.

DRIVE BLOCK- Treat the man as a blocking sled and realize you are a two gap  player. After striking the blocker in front of you, it is important to maintain a solid  base, run him back where he came from and separate! Only after you have regained the line of scrimmage and created some distance between you and the  blocker can you look for the ball carrier in either gap.

“HANDS ON THE DOWN BLOCK, LOOK INSIDE”  Chris Jay- Las Vegas, NV - Mountaineer Football 1997 Idaho Stallions, P.I.F.L. 1999

14

PASS RUSH

Pressure on the passer typifies the aggressiveness of an attacking defense. Though a lot of  quarterback sacks is a compliment to a great defensive team who can also stop the run, a hell-bent attitude by the defensive line is critical to establishing that unit’s personality. An effective pass rush stance must be geared towards thinking each play is a pass and exploding up field with every step towards the quarterback. When is it a pass, widening the offensive lineman with some lateral movement is critical. Quick, violent hands are necessary to clear the offensive lineman’s hands should he get them on you. Body lean is necessary to squeeze the  perimeter once the defensive lineman gets an edge. After basic pass rush principles are learned, the utilization of head fakes should be incorporated into a defensive lineman’s bag of tricks. A good pass rush doesn’t necessarily mean the quarterback is sacked every play. A good pass rush means having the ability to squeeze his area of operation, forcing him closer to another pass rusher, making him move or step out of the pocket, forcing him to run, commanding a double team from the opponent’s  blocking scheme, or getting a hand up in the passing lane. In general, a good pass rush can make a quarterback lose confidence in his protection, force him to make bad throws by destroying his confidence and timing, block his passes, or force him to run. When this can be accomplished, the quarterback will become completely demoralized. When that occurs, it’s game over for your  opponent. LANE AND QB QUADRANT RESPONSIBILITY

With four primary pass rushers, each has the responsibility for only one quadrant o f the quarterback and each lane, when property rushed will take them to that spot. Assuming a four man rush with no stunts, dogs, or blitzes, the Rush End is responsible for the back left quarter of the passer  and gets there through the C gap only. The Defensive Tackle is responsible for the front left quarter  of the passer and gets there through the B gap only. The Nose Guard is responsible for the front right quarter of the passer and gets there through the A gap only. When each pass rusher does his job correctly, even if the quarterback is not sacked, he will have a harder time looking for somewhere to escape.

“EVERY RUSHER MUST SUCCEED IN HIS LANE OR THE QB WILL GET THE BALL OFF” 

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THE HORIZONTAL/VERTICAL GRID- GET THE EDGE

The horizontal – vertical grid is a “checkerboard” which defensive must control to successfully rush the passer within their lane of responsibility. Pass rush moves are used to take squares away from offensive linemen and create space to operate. An example would be the defensive tackle squeezing an offensive guard into one of the center’s squares, which would open, up the B gap. GRID PRINCIPLES 1. Each offensive linemen owns the squares directly behind him and will usually not step to far  away from those squares in 3, 5 or 7 step passes. 2. Some moves take a square immediately. Some take or get a square up field after some movement. 3. Move executed on the center or guards should make them give up a square immediately. 4. Move executed on the tackles might not occur until the third or fourth step and will take squares away further up field. 5. If you rush or get pushed outside your lane, you must find a way to get back in it. 6. Stunts, dogs and blitzes are designed to get movement by forcing offensive linemen to step away from the squares they are responsible for.  NOTE - The gray area represents the 3 technique’s pass rush lane. The slashed area represents the squares the guard is responsible for. The X’s represent the defensive end’s targets for pass rush, an explanation follows in the pass rush guidelines.

“GIVE ME A FOUR YARD PUSHAND SOME HAND SIN THE AIR” 

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PASS RUSH GUIDELINES- DEFENSIVE ENDS The first steps should always be the same with the intent of beating the tackle to your target (X on the horizontal/vertical grid) seven yards up field. Your base should be tight and weight forward. Make the tackle come out and stop your speed move. If he doesn’t cut you off by the (X), dip, lean, and find the quarterback. If you meet resistance, get some cloth and rip. If the tackle oversteps and kicks too wide, club him past you and come under only if you are at the depth of the quarterback. Defensive ends should rush the up field shoulder of the passer with the intention of sacking him from an outside leverage position. If the outside leverage position is not maintained, the quarterback may beat the end with a ‘duck and under’ move. Inevitably, the defensive end is often asked to be responsible for two separate tasks, contain the quarterback and provide a pass rush. It is almost impossible to do both of these things at once. The primary responsibility of the defensive end is to sack the quarterback or at lease make it difficult for him to set his feet. Hassling a defensive end about containment at the expense of diminishing aggressiveness or confidence most often results in a tentative pass rush. With only three to four principle  pass rushers up front with an aggressive, attacking d efense, a late containment philosophy becomes the responsibility of the outside linebackers and strong safeties. Defensive ends often have the luxury of only having to beat one guy in a pass rush. With that in mind, beating that one guy and sacking the quarterback shouldn’t be turned into rocket science. The two  principle moves used by defensive ends to beat an offensive tackle are the speed rush and the rip technique. A devastating speed rusher can demoralize both the pass protector and the quarterback. The over or swim move I a good pass rush move but is rarely used at the defensive end position for two reasons. First, the defensive end must be at least the same height as the tackle, and offensive tacklers are usually tall. Secondly, the speed move is a much faster move. Defensive ends should sack the quarterback high with a draping type of tackle as they make contact with the quarterback. The outside arm should tomahawk the quarterback’s elbow with violent hack finished  by a jerk towards the ball an attempt to cause a fumble. The inside hand should come as a roundhouse punch at chest level in an attempt to corral the quarterback’s ability to step up. This off arm is the tackling arm and allows the defensive end to secure contact with the quarterback. PASS RUSH CONSIDERATIONS – INTERIOR LINEMEN The interior lineman’s job is to rush the passer by pushing the middle so that the quarterback will feel as if he should step outside. When engaging a pass blocker, interior linemen should initially use the rip technique. The rip technique is a technique in which the defensive tackle will dip his should nearest the  blocker and violently rip upward as he powers past him. In this technique, the pass rusher uses his leverage arm (arm closest to the blocker) in the manne r of an uppercut to the armpit or middle of the humerus bone of  the pass blocker. This uppercut punch will drive the pass protector’s leverage arm upward forcing him to turn and open the gate to the quarterback. Keeping the pads down and dipping the leverage shoulder gives the pass protector less blocking surface for contact. Once the interior lineman attains a ‘hip to hip’ relationship, the pass blocker will attempt to “hip steer” (a technique where the pass protector puts his off  hand on the hip of the speed rusher) him past the level of the quarterback. Once the interior lineman is free of contact, he should continue the pass rush with both hands up. Interior linemen should rush with at least one hand up after the fifth or sixth step to disrupt the quarterback’s vision. Getting the hands up do a number of things. First you have the possibility of knocking a pass down or tipping it for an interception. Secondly, it will divert the quarterback’s attention or force him to pull it down or run. Thirdly, it may force the quarterback to put more elevation on the throw, which could give the secondary more time to adjust and intercept the ball.

“NEVER LEAVE YOUR FEET PRIOR TO THE RELEASE OF THE BALL” 

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BASIC PASS RUSH TECHNIQUES

1. THE SPEED RUSH- The rush is the primary move of the defensive end in a 9 or wide 5 technique. When speed rushing, the defensive end finds a spot three to four yards behind the tackle’s hip upon recognition of a pass play. It is important to keep a vertical but slightly angular path away to maintain some separation from the pass protector. Focusing on a landmark, as opposed to the offensive tackle, will force the pass protector to over kick the outside foot and open his hips if he does not anticipate a speed rush. When the pass protector  over kicks, he leaves his inside foot in a wide straddle forcing him to lose his power base and the ability to react quickly. When an offensive tackle is beat as described above, the defensive end gains an uphill advantage on the tackle. This is called getting the ‘edge’ and once it is obtained by the defensive end, he must immediately angle his path inward toward the far shoulder of the quarterback. With the speed rush, you can either beat someone off the  ball or you can’t. COACHING CUES FOR TEACHING THE SPEED RUSH:  Find a landmark   Burst off the ball, dig the inside shoulder up field past the blocker’s hip  Angle, close and strip 2. THE RIP- The rip move is often seen done by the 5 technique defensive end and usually executed on the 3rd or 4th step in combination with a lean on the edge. A defensive tackle in a 3 alignment or shaded nose may execute this move right on the line of scrimmage. From a shade, 3 or 5 alignment the defensive lineman should power step his inside foot to the crotch of the blocker and rip the inside arm tight and aggressively to the armpit of the blocker, working to get the elbow up by hi ear. They almost want to aim the tip of their shoulder into the pass protector’s armpit. Encourage him to keep the feet moving and “run through the rip” in order to get the hips through and disrupt the offensive lineman’s balance. With the rip executed and elbow up by their ear, last component is to get a sideways lean and squeeze his man towards the QB. On completion of the rip move, the defensive end usually finds himself  in a head position with the quarterback. COACHING CUES FOR TEACHING THE RIP:  Power step and work ½ a man  Rip up and through the blocker’s armpit  Elbow to the ear   Get the hips through, squeeze and lean  Close on the QB and strip the ball

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