Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

KDawg

Chalk Talk: Defensive Line Play

Recommended Posts

After browsing some threads here, I've discovered a very common trend, there are some people here who don't quite understand defensive line play. And you know what? That's okay. I had the same problem before I really started to delve deep into the game.

Many here have the perception that defensive line play is purely all about quarterback pressure, tackling the running back and sacking the quarterback. It's not, far from it. There is a much more intricate part of the game being left out of the equation each and every time someone makes comments about a defensive lineman's statistical production.

STANCE/STARTS/STAY LOW

Besides a good stance, two of the most important things for a defensive lineman to do are to get off the ball quickly (the instant the ball is snapped, the DL should be moving towards the LOS) and staying low. If a defensive lineman stands straight up, they are sure to be driven backward. It's all about leverage, and the lower you are, the better off you are.

DOUBLE TEAMS:

This is one that seems to be stressed alot here in the forum, which is a good thing. Double teams are a huge part of a defensive lineman's job. This one is pretty straight forward and seems to be something that most people understand, but to reiterate, any time a defensive lineman can command a double team, it creates one on one matchups for all the other lineman on the field. If a back is in protecting, or we aren't sending any blitzes, however, keep in mind that a double team on one man will do us no good unless we have good, sound technique up front and we can beat our guys to the football.

OFFENSIVE LINE IS TO THE QB AND RUNNINGBACKS AS THE DEFENSIVE LINE IS TO THE LINEBACKERS

Sure, the OL is important to every position on offense, but it's primary function is to spring the run game and protect the quarterback. The defensive line's job is to protect the linebackers in most schemes. This is something that gets lost most of the time when discussing defensive line play. When a DL is responsible for a gap, they need to seal that gap, but if they can get a good enough push to move an offensive lineman over down the line of scrimmage, they can seal two gaps with one man. That's going to create congestion in the backfield and allow the linebackers to make plays.

A defensive lineman's job isn't always to get sacks and tackles, it's about much more than that. Each time a linebacker gets a sack it involves a tremendous amount of individual talent and skill, but they wouldn't get that sack without one of the big uglies up front doing a mostly thankless job.

Albert Haynesworth can realistically come here and get 0 quarterback sacks and still be successful. If he allows our linebackers to make plays in the backfield, whether it be in the way of tackles for loss, balls batted down or quarterback sacks and pressures on blitzes, then he did his job. Would it be nice to see him get some sack numbers himself? Sure, but that's bonus. His main job is to close gaps against run and open up blitzing lanes when a blitz is called. If no blitz is called, and we're looking to pressure with four men, then it's his job to make a play.

The gap closing and lane opening is much more easily seen in a 3-4 system, but it's also there and visible with a 4-3 system. If you get two dominant defensive tackles that can close gaps and wreak general havoc, then the DEs are also allowed to be more free with what they do, only really needing to worry about outside contain (although, even then that's dependent on play call. Sometimes when they slant inside, they don't have to contain, but most of the time, even in that situation, they need to be ready to contain anyways once a back crosses their face.

TAKING ON BLOCKS TO FREE UP BACKERS/SECONDARY

This goes right along with the last section. If a guard pulls, most of the time he takes you to the football. Meaning, the ball is going in the direction of the pull. There are influence pulls (a pull in which the player pulls away from the play in order to get defensive flow away from the play), but they aren't all that common. A defensive lineman's job is to get in the hip pocket of the pulling player if they are the guy that is lined up closest to you. Even if a DE has outside contain on a play, if they see their man pull, they follow. keeping their inside shoulder to the pulling players outside (or back) shoulder (the one not towards the line of scrimmage) and to keep their shoulders square. This allows the player to keep outside contain while also giving them a chance to make a play in the backfield.

If a an offensive lineman pulls from the opposite side and comes directly at the defensive player, their job should be to attack that players inside shoulder and wrong-arm (which is a technique that's alot like a rip move, or similar to an uppercut) and step through, squaring themselves up in the backfield. They NEED to take on the block, they cannot go around it. Going around it does two things.

1) It creates a running lane for the back.

2) Allows the pulling player to move on to level two and block a linebacker. Remember a DL's responsibility... Protect the linebackers. (Level one is the DL, level two is the backers and level 3 is any secondary player).

The same can be said if it's a fullback. The DL must take on the block in order to allow the linebacker to remain free.

On certain plays, a defensive lineman's responsibilities change from these general rules, but these are things that are rarely accounted for when talking about defensive line play. There are always exceptions to every rule in football too. So keep in mind that everything I said here does not always apply, but these are basic guidelines for defensive line play, and I do stress the word basic.

For every Ray Lewis, there's a Ngata. Remember that. Alot of the time, what the DL does is a thankless, painful job that no one seems to notice except that team's coaches. Stats don't always mean anything for DL play, and sometimes they mean alot. Stats do lie, I don't care what anyone says. A DL can get 10 sacks a season, but if he's getting driven backwards off the ball on run plays 3-5 yards then he's not worth anything.

I hope this basic outline helps some people, as always, if there's any questions, I'll do my best to answer. But I'm still learning as well, you never know everything about the game, so perhaps guys like Utah and Major Harris can chime in as well to help me out, or maybe share some other information.

:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing to note that I left off in the OP, that I'll add in after this post.

Besides a good stance, two of the most important things for a defensive lineman to do are to get off the ball quickly (the instant the ball is snapped, the DL should be moving towards the LOS) and staying low. If a defensive lineman stands straight up, they are sure to be driven backward. It's all about leverage, and the lower you are, the better off you are.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

another thing that is often discussed that not everyone knows is defensive-line techniques. kind of misleading, as it refers to WHERE the d-lineman lines up pre-snap, and not a technique like a rip or swim move.

a zero technique is head up on the center, such as the nose guard in a basic 3-4. a one technique is in the "a gap," which is the guard-center gap. a two technique is head up on the guard, a three technique is in the "b gap" or guard-tackle gap. a four technique is head up on the tackle, the 5 technique is inside of the tight end, 6 is head up on the tight end and 7 is outside shoulder of the tight end.

switching gears, one of the things worth mentioning too regarding d-line play is over-penetration. d-line has to fire off and seal their gap, generally they look for one yard of penetration, then find the ball. if they penetrate too deep (football talk can be kinky can't it?), they create an easy lane right inside of themselves. you'll see that often when a team is victimized by a well-designed timely draw play. they're usually successful because someone came too far upfield.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good addition Major, thank you!

Different programs have different ways of numbering techniques. Major's is one that I have seen.

I have also seen them where it's:

0 - head up on center

1 - inside shoulder of guard

2 - head up on guard

3 - outside shoulder of guard

4i - inside shoulder of tackle

4 - head up on tackle

5 -outside shoulder of tackle

7 - inside shoulder of the tight end

6- head up on the tight end

9- outside shoulder of the tight end

8- a yard further than the outside shoulder of the tight end

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

switching gears, one of the things worth mentioning too regarding d-line play is over-penetration. d-line has to fire off and seal their gap, generally they look for one yard of penetration, then find the ball. if they penetrate too deep (football talk can be kinky can't it?), they create an easy lane right inside of themselves. you'll see that often when a team is victimized by a well-designed timely draw play. they're usually successful because someone came too far upfield.

You aren't kidding. I'm currently helping with the varsity defensive line (I'm 5'9" 170, these guys make me look like a tiny person :)) and we had our first scrimmage last Saturday. We're too high and we over penetrate like you wouldn't believe. Another great thought by you and a very good addition. They will be doing pushups tomorrow. The film made my skin crawl earlier. :)

I've learned a lot from these threads.

Thanks again, KDawg.

My pleasure :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chalk Talk is back. I know the season is almost here.

Thanks KDawg.

:applause::applause:

Thanks for the reply, and you're welcome :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Good addition Major, thank you!

Different programs have different ways of numbering techniques. Major's is one that I have seen.

I have also seen them where it's:

0 - head up on center

1 - inside shoulder of guard

2 - head up on guard

3 - outside shoulder of guard

4i - inside shoulder of tackle

4 - head up on tackle

5 -outside shoulder of tackle

7 - inside shoulder of the tight end

6- head up on the tight end

9- outside shoulder of the tight end

8- a yard further than the outside shoulder of the tight end

yeah, i put the most basic one up. they can get a bit more complicated, but the basic one gives you the gist of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Kdawg, this would probably have been of much more value in dispelling myths that were so widespread around here for the last couple of years had you posted it then, lol.

Now that we actually have a pass rush, I feel like all the complainers won't even look at the Dline to find something to quell their desperate desire to make everyone else miserable! :silly:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice writeup KDawg. I got a few things too look for now for the last preseason game.

But some people here need to read up on all of your threads, and get a little better understanding of the game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks Kdawg, this would probably have been of much more value in dispelling myths that were so widespread around here for the last couple of years had you posted it then, lol.

Now that we actually have a pass rush, I feel like all the complainers won't even look at the Dline to find something to quell their desperate desire to make everyone else miserable! :silly:

No problem! It probably would have for sure :)

Nice writeup KDawg. I got a few things too look for now for the last preseason game.

But some people here need to read up on all of your threads, and get a little better understanding of the game.

I'm just hoping it helps a few. There are probably plenty who understand all this stuff :)

Thanks for the replies to both of you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
....STANCE/STARTS/STAY LOW

Besides a good stance, two of the most important things for a defensive lineman to do are to get off the ball quickly (the instant the ball is snapped, the DL should be moving towards the LOS) and staying low. If a defensive lineman stands straight up, they are sure to be driven backward. It's all about leverage, and the lower you are, the better off you are.....

I am not disagreeing with your post (and I really appreciate them!)

There are transitional duties during a rush like Containment and Pass Blocking that require a more upright position

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great thread. Thanks for that. I would like to see a thread that expands on the D Lines job in obvious passing downs, and also during blitzes. The stunt for example. I say that because I would love to know more about what Blache is doing (and not doing) to get to the QB. And more specifically, why our blitz package doesnt seem to work as often as we'd like. I know a top goal of his is stopping the rush and I wonder how much of the dlines technique on what we consider obvious running downs, keeps our team sack totals on the low side.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am not disagreeing with your post (and I really appreciate them!)

There are transitional duties during a rush like Containment and Pass Blocking that require a more upright position

pass blocking? d-line doesn't pass block. and containment doesn't require a more upright position.

i think maybe you're saying pass rush, so just let me clarify....a d-lineman doesn't stay hunched over. what k-dawg is saying, accurately, is that a d-lineman has to fire out and stay low thru any contact. sure, if a de is pursuing a qb after getting past a block, he will be more upright.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

d-line has to fire off and seal their gap, generally they look for one yard of penetration, then find the ball. if they penetrate too deep (football talk can be kinky can't it?), they create an easy lane right inside of themselves. you'll see that often when a team is victimized by a well-designed timely draw play. they're usually successful because someone came too far upfield.

I'm glad you mentioned this. Greg Blanche uses this technique alot in his schemes. You'll notice most times our tackles will get an initial push but then seem like they are stuck on the offensive lineman. Well in his defense the linebackers and strong safety are designed to make tackles.This is the reason he wants the tackles big and quick, to be able to push a pile or clog the gaps while being quick enough to make the tackle when needed but essentially to occupy ofensive linemen to free up the backers. It's a very effective defensive line scheme to create pressure,and limit yards from scrimmage, however you wont generate many sacks.

On certain stunts the d-line is asked to shoot the gaps to crash the pocket and force the QB out or up in the pocket. Our tackles and D Ends are so big that we very seldom see a tackle in the backfield disrupting a play before the play even gets started. This is what generates sacks from the D-Line. We've got to get better at this before we become an elite defense because a team with a good offensive line will give a QB all day and our LBs and secondary cant stay with receivers and runningbacks out of the back field to long.

We've gotta be a good mixture of both schemes to be able to stop the run and sack the QB consistantly!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am not disagreeing with your post (and I really appreciate them!)

There are transitional duties during a rush like Containment and Pass Blocking that require a more upright position

pass blocking? d-line doesn't pass block. and containment doesn't require a more upright position.

i think maybe you're saying pass rush, so just let me clarify....a d-lineman doesn't stay hunched over. what k-dawg is saying, accurately, is that a d-lineman has to fire out and stay low thru any contact. sure, if a de is pursuing a qb after getting past a block, he will be more upright.

Major hit the nail on the head here. The DL always needs to fire off low and make contact. Staying low involves keeping your hips down, not hunching your back.

Great thread. Thanks for that. I would like to see a thread that expands on the D Lines job in obvious passing downs, and also during blitzes. The stunt for example. I say that because I would love to know more about what Blache is doing (and not doing) to get to the QB. And more specifically, why our blitz package doesnt seem to work as often as we'd like. I know a top goal of his is stopping the rush and I wonder how much of the dlines technique on what we consider obvious running downs, keeps our team sack totals on the low side.

Probably has a decent amount to do with it, but in the NFL, a DLineman needs to be able to read run or pass extremely quickly and react. Sure, they will be slightly delayed if they are in run support and get a playaction pass fake, but they need to peel off and make a play at that point. I may break DL play down further later in the season, stick around :)

Awesome writeup. Some of that seems like common sense, but in the heat of the forums it's easy to forget. Great job.

Actualy, I'd say alot of this stuff isn't common sense. I only say that because so many people only think the game is about tackling and sacks and turnovers that they miss the little nuances at each offensive and defensive position. Thank you for the kudos :)

Great thread, KDawg. Glad to see you're back in form. ;)

If anybody would like to read more, here are some other Chalk Talk threads by KDawg:

http://www.extremeskins.com/forumdisplay.php?s=&daysprune=-1&f=82

I wouldn't say I'm back in form, but I'm back doing some chalk talks :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good thread...

Talk about slants and how much (or how little) NFL D-lines do slants to the strong or weak side of the field, why they do, and when they do. Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Good thread...

Talk about slants and how much (or how little) NFL D-lines do slants to the strong or weak side of the field, why they do, and when they do. Thanks.

Yes sir. I will at some point sir! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes sir. I will at some point sir! :)

Cool, thanks...

The times I've noticed the use of slants, it seemed to hurt more than it helped. Maybe because when the D guesses wrong on a slant, it's much more noticeable than when they guess correctly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I absolutely love learning all of this. Chalk Talk is absolutely amazing, please keep it up!

I may. Just need to keep finding topics that prompt me to post these :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wish the "media" announcers etc would pull thier heads out of thier stA(SS)ts books and talk real football. Thanks for the write up. For some of us that never played the game it's a good read.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.