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Chalk Talk: Defensive Line Techniques


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I thought I'd change the pace a little bit here and do something on defense, as the majority of my threads have been offensive related. To start, I want to go over the technique system that everyone so often hears about. How often do you hear someone talking on TV saying that a defensive tackle is in a 3-Tech or a 5-tech? The majority of football fans really have no need to know what that means, although I'm sure some of you do.

Let's start with the 0-Technique. The 0-Tech is headup on the center, traditionally either played by a Mike linebacker (Middle) or a nose. In some 5-2 type defenses some teams utilize the Mike as the nose, although you see that more at the collegiate, high school and youth levels more than you see it in the NFL, but there have been some instances where it has occured.

The 1-Tech is either shoulder of the center. In order to differentiate between the two, formation strength dictates the name of each side. For instance, in a I Right type formation (TE to the right, flanker split out to the same side off the line of scrimmage and there's a split end on the line of scrimmage to the non tight end side), the right side of the center (from the offensive side of the ball) is the strong side. That makes it the left side for the defense. So I could call the left side (defensively) of the center the strong 1. But in non goal line defenses assignments are generally clear enough to not have to differentiate between the strong and weak sides.

The 2-Tech is the inside shoulder of the guard on either side of the center(I keep saying 'shoulder', whereas some defensive coordinators use the term 'eye', the meaning is slightly different, but generally the same).

The 3-Tech is the outside shoulder of the guard on either side.

The 4-Tech is the inside shoulder of the tackle on either side.

The 5-Tech is the outside shoulder of the tackle on either side.

Now is where it can get semi-confusing. I'm sure there are defenses that have simplified this a bit, but I'm going to go through the traditional way of numbering (Or the way I have always learned it and used it).

The 7-Tech is the inside shoulder of the tight end on either side.

The 6-Tech is headup on the tight end to either side.

The 9-Tech is the outside shoulder of the tight end to either side.

The 8-Tech is a farther outside alignment off the tight end, generally a yard off where the tight end would be.

Now the semi-confusing part. These technique assignments remain the same to the non-TE side. So on the side where the tackle is the last man in the box, if you're supposed to be in a 6,7, or 9 technique you line up as if there IS a TE there, even though there isn't. The same with an 8-Technique. So if you're in an 8 to the non TE side, you're going to have quite a bit of distance between you and the tackle.

That will give you a big advantage as far as pass rush goes as that tackle will have difficulty getting out to someone in an 8-Tech, TE or no TE. But offensive teams are generally aware of such things and often call for blocking changes. Perhaps a pulling guard to attack that 8-Tech player or maybe even a fullback. One thing you'll see more often than that, though, is a simple off-tackle run. It's not often you see a DE lined up out there to a non-TE side, and the reasoning is it opens a huge gap for the offense to attack. Most of the time, if you see something like that and you're going against a competent defensive coordinator, they're trying to disguise something going on. Whether it's a stunt to plug that gap, run blitz, weak slant on the line, or whatever it is they have planned. I would say that alignment is used to bait the offense into running into that gap. It would be a lie, though, if I didn't say I've seen some defensive coordinators do that just to enhance a pass rush.


I'm aware that this edition of chalk talk is fairly simple and not too in depth, but this should help at least a few people out there :)

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