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Let's Learn Football!! Episode #3

As I have been creating and reading some Fanposts it occurred to me that some of the verbiage and explanations being used might be confusing for some readers. Having knowledge about something will automatically enhance your appreciation for it. Assuming that you are reading this on an NFL team blog, you are obviously interested in football. What better way to enhance your passion for it than learning it on a more in-depth level? While I am not as versed as professional coaches, hopefully I can use my knowledge as a former college player to explain the game in more detail. For this series I will NOT begin breaking down the game from the most basic concepts and rules, but I will start from an average fan’s perspective and work into more complex topics. If there is any topic that you feel is interesting, please leave it in the comments and I will try to address it on a future post. I hope you enjoy.

The previous post in this series can be found here.

TOPIC 3:

Holes, Gaps, Techniques and Fronts

Understanding the concept of "gaps" and "holes" on the LOS will be a good foundation to understand the defensive techniques and fronts described later in this post and when describing other functions of offensive and defensive schemes in the future.

To make it easier to understand the responsibilities of the players along the line on each play, the zones between the players on the LOS on offense are called "holes" and are marked with #’s. The left side of the line is designated with odd #’s between 1-7 and the right side with even #’s between 2-8, mainly to describe where a certain running play will be executed. On defense, those zones are called "gaps" and are marked with letters A-D on both the left and right side of the line.

For example: the area on the LOS between the C and LG is hole #1 and the area between the C and RG is hole #2. Both of those areas are considered the "A" gap on defense.

The chart below will make this concept easier to visualize.

Now that we have a basic understanding of the offensive and defensive labels on the LOS, we can discuss defensive techniques or "shades" of the linemen which will be a factor when discussing different defensive fronts in both base and sub package defenses.

For defensive players along the LOS there are 2 different types of alignments, referred to as techniques: Head up and inside/outside or "shade" alignments/techniques. Even though these are on the defensive side they are labelled with numbers.

When a defensive lineman or player lines up directly in front of the offensive lineman, these are identified as even numbers.

0 Technique= Heads up on the Center

2 Technique= Heads up on the Guard

4 Technique= Heads up on the Tackle

6 Technique= Heads up on the TE

Playing a defender head up makes it easier for them to play 2 different gaps

When a defensive lineman or player lines up directly in a gap or on the outside shoulder of the defender, these are identified as odd numbers and can also be called "outside shades".

1 Technique= Outside shoulder of the Center or in the "A" gap

3 Technique= Outside shoulder of the Guard or in the "B" gap

5 Technique= Outside shoulder of the Tackle or in the "C" gap

7 Technique= Outside shoulder of the Tight End or in the "D" gap

For inside techniques, since you cannot play inside the Center the inside techniques start with the Guard. Inside techniques are mostly used with a 3 man defensive line front, but can be used in 4 man fronts as well.

2i Technique= Shaded over the inside shoulder of the Guard

4i Technique= Shaded over the inside shoulder of the Tackle

6i Technique= Shaded over the inside shoulder of the Tight End

The chart below details the different techniques in relation to the offensive line and the gaps

Now that we are versed on holes, gaps and techniques we can focus on fronts. Similar to how an offense has a play script detailing each player’s job, the defensive line has responsibilities also. To stop the run or coordinate a blitz or rush package, the defensive line must control gaps. To control gaps the defense can line up in different formations or fronts. There can be various complex fronts run in any defense, but here we will focus on the most common ones used in football.

Over Front

The over front is one of the more common fronts run in the 4-3 defense. The 4 DL will line up in the following techniques:

DT: 1 Technique and 3 Technique

DE: 5 Technique

In this front the 3 Tech will be set to the Tight End side and the 1 tech will be set on the opposite side of the Center

Under Front

The under front is similar to the over front, except that the 3 tech is now set to the Opposite side of the Tight End.

DT: 1 Technique and 3 Technique

DE: 5 Technique

Field Front

The field front is the same as the over/under front, only the defensive front is set to the side of the field with more space. These fronts are used if there is no Tight End.

DT: 1 Technique and 3 Technique

DE: 5 Technique

Boundary Front

The boundary front is set the same as the over/under, except the 3 tech will go toward the short side of the field

DT: 1 Technique and 3 Technique

DE: 5 Technique

Bear Front

The bear front was made famous by the Chicago Bears. It requires 3 DT to occupy the 3 interior offensive linemen. The easiest way to identify this front is to see if the defense has the Center and both Guards covered. If you were running this front in a 3-4 defense, the DE would be replaced by OLB.

NG: 0 Technique

DT: 2 Technique

DE: 5 Technique

Tite/Okie Front

This is a 3 man front which is one of the more popular schemes against the spread rushing offense. The 0 technique is usually a player that can handle double teams and own 1v1 blocking. The two 4i techniques are primarily "B" gap players, which can disrupt zone blocking schemes

NG: 0 technique

DE: 4i Technique

Stack/Base Front

The stack front is similar to the Okie front except it has the Defensive Ends either head up or outside alignment of the Tackle. This is more common to defend against spread passing attacks.

NG: 0 Technique

DE: 4/5 technique

Defensive fronts are unique to each defensive coach. They can build on existing front types or even mix concepts and personnel to create their own unique front.

As we build on the topics from previous posts, the explanations and concepts will become more complex. If there is anything covered here or in another post that needs more clarification let me know in the comments and I will do my best to answer.


This FanPost was written by a member of the Bolts From The Blue community and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bolts From The Blue editors or SB Nation.