Last offseason when things tended to get a little dull, I had started an O-line basics thread which can be seen [link=mb25.scout.com/fbrownsinsiderfrm56.showMessage?topicID=56.topic]HERE[/link].
Taking that idea from last year and applying it to this year, let us turn our attention to the defensive side of the ball.
As I did then, through the miracle of Google, I decided to use some pictures to point out some of the simpler things associated with D-line play while also hitting upon other key points.
Let us begin....
And with everything in football it begins with the stance and alignment.
Taking a look at Gilbert Brown's stance one thing becomes automatically obvious. This isn't an obvious passing situation (not that Brown was ever much of a pass rusher). You can tell by the positioning of his feet, overall weight placement, and by the level of his hips. The feet are toe to instep forming a good base to take on the offensive lineman if he were to fire off at you. Weight on the front is close to proportional with the rest of his body. Head is up. Back is flat. Also notice the up hand is already cocked to deliver a blow to the offensive lineman. Some coaches prefer the hand to not be rested on the knee, some don't; all a matter of preference.
Using the newest Cleveland Brown as our next example....
It appears to be more of a pass rush situation. In this case Wimbley's feet are more drastically off set. Much more like a sprinters start to get that little bit of a quick step off the line. Hips are up in the air more and thus more weight is placed on the hand. Usually in an obvious pass rushing situation 75 to 80% of the defensive lineman's weight should be on his hand to force the lineman to take off lower and quicker. In this case Wimbley is using his inside hand as his strike hand and not the one he plants in the ground. Depending on coaching, some prefer the strike hand to be on the outside but it all comes to the individual level of comfortability. Also notice his hand in the dirt is actually placed in FRONT of his helmet. This is another instance which helps a player come off the ball low and hard.
Just to be a little nitpicky, most coaches would like to see Wimbley's hips set up a bit higher in this stance and his based a little skinnier in obvious pass rushing situations.
A former coach I used to work with always had the saying in regards to stance, starts, and takeoffs; "Throw the pads, shoot the hands, your feet will follow, and then make your read." Remember this is all happening in a split second. His concern was on an emphasis to intitial contact THEN read and reaction.
Now that stance is covered on to alignment. Rarely do you hear the teams defensived tackle or defensive ends used around a football practice field, because in today's defensive schemes those are not the name for the positions.
A previous article on the "other" site did a great job pointing out the differences. Starting with a four man front...
Now the descriptions are off a bit when it comes to the exact names of the position, but I wanted to throw something up there which give you a look at how a basic NFL four man front does lineup.
What is listed as a nose tackle in this picture is what is commonly referred to as a 1 Technique. They have it listed as a Strong 0, but a true 0 technique is a nose tackle in the 34. IN this case the position is almost always known as a 1 technique and lines up on the outside shoulder of the center according to the strength of the defensive call.
The other defensive tackle is labeled correctly as a 3 Technique and it is by that name which it is most commonly referred to. The 3 technique is special in this system because he is the only one to have a "two way go". Meaning his pass rush move can either penetrate thru the B gap (between the guard and tackle) or the A gap (between the guard and center).
Looking at the DE's now, the numbering again is slightly off as is the name usually used.
The strong 6 as they refer to the position is usually known as just the End and lines up as a 7 technique (often splitting the offensive tackle and tight end). This position lines up according to strength call to the TE side. He is the more physical of the ends.
The weak 6 as they point out, is what many refers to as a
Rush End. Again the numbering is slightly off since the position is usually lined up in a 5 technique which is the outside shoulder of the "open end" offensive tackle.
Now let's move to the more important 3 man front which we currently employ....
I like this picture a little more simply because there isn't any confusion about terminology like our last example.
Here we see a TRUE 0 Technique lined head up with the center. This is obviously where we'll see Big Ted and Baba line up to try and control the line of scrimmage. The difference between what you see here and a 1 technique earlier is that a 0 Technique has both A gaps as his responsibility whereas in the 43 its a one gap system.
The ends in the 34 generally line head up to the offensive tackles which some teams refer to as a 4i.
Mentioned earlier and touching upong again to clarify would be the "hot button issue" with some coaches.....GAP INTEGRITY.
The gaps according to a defensive view are the A,B,C, & D gaps. Looking at the picture provided earlier about fronts take a gander toward the offensive side of the ball. The A gap is between the center and guard (on both sides mind you). The B gap is in between the guard and tackle. The C gap is in between the tackle and tight end. The D gap is anything outside of the tight. In all schemes every defender in the front 7 has a gap responsbility. It becomes critical because if one player lose his responsbility then it can blow up the defense and be a HUGE play for the opposing offense. This theme is preached over and over and over and over and over again by coaches.
Now to the run game. There are a two aspects which I would like to discuss quickly. One is how to break the double from an interior perspective, and secondly is how to take on a moving block.
Interior lineman are OFTEN doubled. It's simply the nature of the position.
After taking the intial impact, the best way to split a double is simply by dipping your outside shoulder. By doing this the down block by either the guard or tackle is given less surfact space to block and have a tendency to fall of their blocks. Now in the pic provided above, if Ngata were to simply dip that outside shoulder, he would have a free run at the QB.
If a defender is STILL have trouble taking on the double, as another former coach of mine used to put it, "Grab grass to save your ass". It's always better to create a pile of bodies in the hole than be driven 5 yards out of it.
Now taking on a trap is a matter completely up to a teams defensive ideology. Traditionally a player is told to close the hole, get low, and take on the blocker by delivering a blow with his inside shoulder. In this case the team does not want a runner to get to the outside and keep contain. Now SOME defensive coaches prefer teaching, "wrongarming". When taking on a block of this nature and defensive lineman does NOT take it on with his inside shoulder. He is told to take it on by turning his body to the hole and delivering a blow with his outside shoulder, thus wrongarming. This is used by faster defenses who want to "spill" the ball carrier out and let linebackers string it out and run him down.
Two things I thought I'd point out quickly.
Next up....pass rush moves. Let's start with the most basic and work out way from there.
-- As simple as it sounds. A defensive end tries to be the offensive tackle to the edge through pure athleticism. Two keys to this move are "dipping the shoulder" and "running the ring". Two descriptive terms you heard Romeo give about Wimbley. By dipping the shoulder the defender is rounding the edge as best as he can, on the best angle, all the while giveing the offensive lineman the least amount of body he can to target. Notice Freeney's inside shoulder in contrast to his outside. Running the ring is the term often used with this skill because it's a drill run in practice to help and determine a player's skill in this area.
--While the speed rush is employed by ends, the bullrush is most often used by bigger and stronger interior defensive linemen. The premise is simple, you're bigger and stronger than the man blocking you so drive him straight back into the QB. There is NO move whatsoever being used by Big Ted up in the picture provided above. Strength on strength and he's got his blocker bent back and going towards the QB.
-- A variaton of the bullrush. The push/pull is exactly what it's called. Again the defender wants to drive the offensive lineman back onto his heels but in this case when the lineman is off balance, the defender yanks on the jersey forward to basically throw the offensive lineman on his face. It's hard to see in this picture but notice how Ngata has both hands on the lineman blocking him and is trying to "pull" past him to get to the QB.
In this picture notice Julius Peppers hand placement. This is a typical rip move. Peppers his slapping the shoulder of the offensive lineman with his outside strike hand while try to clear the lineman's arm with a basic uppercut motion known as the rip move. To get lackadaisical and not follow thru with the move swiftly and strongly will often get defenders caught up in traffic.
-- Again the name alludes basically of the motion. Like the rip the move is started by slapping an offensive lineman's outside shoulder to get him off balance. This is quickly followed by a motion which is very similar to what a swimmer does to propel himself in a pool. The arm will come from a position at the side of the body, around at full length, in a circular position, to propel the defender past the body. The finishing of this move is crucial as well by finishing the circular motion with a strong elbow to the back of the lineman to make sure he stays off balance. This move in particular isn't taught as much anymore because if a player is not quick or athletic enough to pull it off, it gives a WIDE OPEN shot to the offensive lineman with a defender's chest exposed, which a good lineman will use to "rip out his heart".
-- This has often replaced the basic swim move. It's actually a bit of a combination of a swim move and the rip. Instead of a full circular motion the arm is brought up and basically "punches" through a lineman's arm to propel the defender past his blocker. Notice how Strahan's arm is coming straight thru to clear the lineman. Looks like he has almost coldcocked him.
It takes a special player to pull this off. It's a move set up with a patience and executed with strength. Reggie White as the master (and orginator actually). In the picture shown above, it's acutally a head slap, but the principles apply the same. The move is set up with a strong up field speed rush and once the offensive lineman gets his weight going in the wrong direction, the defender undercuts him with a clubbing shot to his inside shounder thus "throwing" a the offensive lineman too wide and giving the defender a clear route to the QB underneath.
-- Oh it's cool to be like Dwight Freeney nowadays, spining the game away and getting sack after sack. What many don't realize is that he's a freak of nature who can get away with it. 95% of defensive lineman can't, and I've known plenty of coaches who won't even teach the spin or only condone it as a last resort. The basic premised of the move is to get the blocker going up field and have his momentum going in the wrong direction. Once the defender reaches an equal plane with the QB, he then spins back quickly to get the sack. Unfortunately for those who aren't as physically talented a Freeney, they're often caught with their back (as seen in the position Dwight currently is and wasn't in too much longer I assume) to the play and manhandled by an offensive lineman.
That's what I got for now. Have to admit pictures this year to match my examples for what I wanted was a bit harder than last year.
Obviously this thread is just the tip of the iceberg and we can always get more in depth; but I thought it was a good start.