Game Play Thursday : 8 in The Box

I’m in the process of trying to really learn the game. As in, I totally understand everything that is going on on the field, everything the announcers say, what the lingo and play calls mean, ALL of it. It’s an uphill climb, but I’m loving it!

So I wanted to start sharing with you all the little bits of knowledge I’m picking up throughout the week. We’ll call it Game Play Thursdays.

Today, it’s an explanation of something I kept hearing but had no idea what it meant: having “8 in the box.” Here’s the breakdown:


  • 8 refers to the number of defensive players who are occuying “the box”
  • The box is the defensive area directly across from the offensive line (the 5 man line consisting of the Left Tackle, Left Guard, Center, Right Guard, and Right Tackle)
  • Usually, there are 7 defensive players in the box – linemen and linebackers.
  • When a defense is trying to stop a running play or wants to blitz the QB, they might have another defensive player – usually the Strong Safety (the Safety who is playing on the same side of the field as the Tight End) – come down from his usual position upfield where he defends against the pass and “shake down” into the box. This gives the defense the advantage of having an extra man in coverage near the line of scrimmage.


Here’s a visual, thanks to a screen shot from FOX and a breakdown on Bleacher Report (I just added the numbers) of 8 in the box:

Roman Harper, the strong safety, is the “8th” in the box, and his path is identified by the red line in front of him.

This play ended up not going very well for the Saints. RGIII, the Redskins QB, totally sold the run. But it was a fake – he was actually going to throw it to his Wide Receiver, Pierre Garcon, down the field. And he did. And Garcon caught it. BOOM.

And thus the disadvantage of bringing 8 in the box: less protection against passing plays.

Does any of that make sense?

Tags: , ,


  1. What to Know : Wildcard Weekend - Football for Normal GirlsFootball for Normal Girls - January 4, 2013

    […] the Packers in their last two meetings (to the tune of 210 yards and 199 yards)…even with a fully loaded box. At times last Sunday the Packers brought NINE players down (leaving two lonely players upfield!). […]

  2. Fundamentals : Zone Coverage Schemes | Football for Normal GirlsFootball for Normal Girls - May 13, 2013

    […] from the past, but remember when we talked about 8 in the box? This is that. The safety sneaks down into the box, presenting a tough coverage to beat: lots of […]

  3. Fundamentals : How to Use Uniform Numbers | Football for Normal GirlsFootball for Normal Girls - May 27, 2013

    […] It makes sense that the corners are on the edges, that there are three down linemen, that the linebackers are coming up front as pass rushers, and that the strong safety is in the second level playing zone. Adding all of the pieces together makes an effective whole, and also teaches us a lot more about what the defense was going for on this play. From this look, it seems like the defense was probably expecting a running play, since they've stuffed so many guys in the box. […]

Leave a Reply