Film Room : Defensive Line

On Monday we gave the defensive line a little love and talked about defensive techniques. Today, we’re going to learn more about the players on the defensive line and what their jobs are…and…we’re going beyond the film to take a look at screen shots and figure out the techniques used on the field.

Oh, that’s right. We’re going for the gold today.

But let’s put the horse back in front of the cart to get us started. Here’s an essential lesson on defensive line play:

So, what did we learn?

Defensive Tackles play on the inside of the defensive line and are usually big guys who take up lots of space and block the gaps in the middle of the field.

Defensive Ends play on the outside of the defensive line and are often speed rushers, penetrating into the backfield to tackle the quarterback or running backs.

Got it? Let’s move on and see if we can determine techniques just by using our post from Monday and a few screen shots from this video.

We’re going to use the less complicated version of technique numbering (apologies, Coach Bryant) in these examples. Here’s another look at it:

football, fundamentals, technique

image source

Spoiler Alert: don’t scroll down all the way. Give yourself a test and see if you can answer the following questions about each picture before scrolling down to the picture with the answers.

1. Which players are on the defensive line? (Positions, not actual player names.)

2. Using that information, what defensive formation is the team probably using?

3. Using approximate values based on the picture, how are the players aligned? Which defensive techniques are in place?

Disclaimer Alert: this is completely an eye test based on limited information, so we’re all taking our best guesses here – myself included! Go ahead and take a swing, even if it’s at a weird curve ball.

Here’s Example 1 of a defensive line in the video:

football, advanced, defensive line

And here’s Example 2:

football, advanced, defensive line

Ready for the big reveal?

Here’s Example 1 with the answers:

football, advanced, defensive line

1. We see that this formation is using two defensive tackles and two defensive ends.

2. Therefore, we can infer that this is probably either a 4-3 defense of a 4-2-5 defense (which we haven’t talked about yet).

3. By looking at each player’s alignment, we can take an educated guess as to his technique. I did this – in my own backwoods fashion, not in any official football strategy – by starting with the offensive line and identifying center and the tight end – the two keys I usually use to see how the offensive line is lined up. From there, I worked from offensive left to right across the formation: the defensive end looks like he’s either right across from the left tackle (5-technique) or right outside of him (6-technique). The more I look at this picture, the more I think I was probably wrong the first time – he looks like he’s outside playing 6-technique. Both defensive tackles are aligned to the outside of the offensive guards, so they are likely playing 3-technique. And the end across from the tight end is lined up outside of him, so he’s playing 9-technique.

Not too bad, right?

Here’s our second example:

football, advanced, defensive line

1. The defensive ends are outside of only one defensive tackle, so it’s a 3 man line and he’s the nose tackle.

2. We can then infer that the team is playing a 3-man front, likely a 3-4 formation.

3. This time around I started with the defensive tackle and worked my way out. The nose tackle almost always lines up directly across from the center, so he’s playing 0-technique. The defensive end on the offensive right looks like he’s aligned over the right tackle, so he’s probably playing 5-technique. The defensive end on the offensive left looks like he’s just outside of the left tackle, so I’d say he’s playing 6-technique, although it is definitely open for discussion.

It’s not in any way an exact science – at least not when you are looking at it from this point of view – but it’s still helpful to think critically and learn more in the process, even if it’s not 100% accurate.

How about you guys? How did you do? Any agreements or disagreements with my educated guess technique for techniques?

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