Film Room : Defensive Gaps

Yesterday we learned all about gaps and holes. It wasn’t too bad, right? But sometimes an extra visual is nice, so we’re going to take a second look at gaps today, since gap protection is something you’re likely to hear in everyday football conversation.

Here’s a quick overview of what we learned:

  • Defenses identify spaces in the offensive line with letters.
  • Offenses identify spaces in the offensive line with numbers.
  • The A Gap is the gap between the center and the guards
  • The B Gap is the gap between the guards and the tackles
  • The C Gap is the gap between the tackle and the tight end
  • The D Gap is the gap between the tight end and the edge of the field
  • It’s crucial that every defensive player has an assignment. Otherwise, gaps go unchecked and open up big holes for running plays to go through. Each defensive player should know which gap he is assigned to cover at the snap of the ball.
  • The types of defenses mentioned – 3-3, 5-4, 5-3 – are different from the main two that we’ve discussed, the 4-3 and the 3-4 (which are the predominant NFL-style defenses). But that doesn’t mean we’re in the dark! As per the 4-3 and the 3-4, the first number refers to the number of players up front on the defensive line, and the second number refers to the number of linebackers, with the rest of the 11 players being defensive backs. So a 3-3 system is one in which there are 3 defensive linemen, 3 linebackers, and 5 defensive backs (3+3+5 = 11).
  • Let’s take a look at this screen shot, which shows a 4-4 defense. How could we tell it’s a 4-4 even if it wasn’t labeled? There are 4 defensive linemen and 4 linebackers (and 3 defensive backs in the secondary). Thus, it’s a 4-4. (Easy, right?)
  • Bonus points if you know what formation the offense is in!

football, defense, advanced

 For even more information on gaps, check out this video and this video from USA Football.

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