PHOTO COPY AND CREATE PLAY SHEETS

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1 PHOTO COPY AND CREATE PLAY SHEETS

2 Introduction to Defense When young kids decide to play football it is likely that the glory of scoring offensive touchdowns is what draws them to the game. Team defense and tackling isn t as glamorous as scoring offensive touchdowns, but teams that make a commitment to playing great defense will find the experience of playing football more complete and more successful. Coaches must make a commitment to becoming a good defensive football team by instituting tackling, pursuit, and position specific drills, which are available at usafootball.com. Although it can be difficult to coordinate the timing and movement of an opposing offense, giving equal time to these core defensive elements will give your team a better understanding of the game, and a better chance of stopping the opposition. SCHEME Defensive schemes have become just as complex and sophisticated as offensive schemes over the past several years. If the keys to a solid offense are timing, execution, and ball security then the keys to a solid defense are effort, pursuit, and tackling. Coaches will find that their defense will perform better if you can minimize the amount of thinking and reading you ask the young players to do. By putting the players in positions and giving them simple responsibilities that will take them to the ball, you will find that players will be successful and this builds confidence. This playbook will cover the 5-3 defense which provides for 8 players in the box, it is a solid bend but don t break scheme that uses a jam and contain philosophy. The defensive linemen will own the line of scrimmage and allow the Linebackers to run the alley behind them to make tackles. The 5-3 also provides solid pass coverage concepts that should defend against most youth passing schemes. If the offense begins to spread the field with more receivers then the 5-3 can defend a transition to the is an easy one to make. The most important skill on defense is tackling, if you are not a good tackling team then whatever scheme you line up in will prove to be ineffective. USA Football Playbook 2

3 Defensive Principles To have a solid defensive football team, coaches must develop a philosophy that they will believe in, teach, and never waiver from. Printing out a list of principles and sticking them on a locker room wall or chalk board isn t enough. It s important that a coach institutes and sticks to his core principles throughout the season at practice and during games. GGE: This stands for Give Great Effort an anagram or phrase that coaches can use to motivate their players during practice. As a coach it is important that you coach every day with the energy and effort that you expect from your players. When coaches are not putting in the effort that they are expecting from the players it sends a poor message. In games it is important to GGE on every snap, regardless of the opponent, score, or time remaining. Praise hustle and effort every chance you get and don t spend time being negative to those players who are not giving great effort. Tackle the Football: This principle begins with an emphasis on pursuit, which is a big part of GGE. All eleven defensive players should pursue and gang tackle the football. Pursuit and gang tackling are the keys to eliminating big plays. Being physical and finishing tackles with leg drive and aggression will help create turnovers and create pressure on the passing game. Always be talking: This is not about trash talking with your opponent - something that should never happen - it s about communication amongst the defensive players. Defense players should alert each other of offensive motion, shifts, crack blocks, passes, reverses, counters, and anything else they can identify. When stunts or blitzes are called, players must communicate to ensure that everyone knows what gap they are shooting. Defensive players must also come back to the sideline and be able to inform coaches of things such as line splits, blocking schemes, or formation changes. Execution: GGE, team pursuit, and communication are all important, however, executing the scheme is the key to great team defense. All 11 players must do their job and follow their assignments. Never let poor execution in practice go uncorrected. Big Team little me: Always emphasize that the team is more important than the individual, or individuals. Everyone must know their job and trust that the other 10 teammates on the field know their job. Support each other and always celebrate individual success in relation to how it helped the TEAM. USA Football Playbook 3

4 Defensive Priorities Discipline: Ensure that players do things the Coaches Way and not their own way. If one player freelances and does not attack in the assigned manner this will lead to a breakdown in the Team Defense concept. Coaches do not have to yell and scream to enforce discipline. Patience and repetition will lead to a disciplined approach. Conditioning: Practice fast, perform drills at full speed, and run from station to station. In the past, football conditioning was limited to wind sprints at the end of practice this would not yield the desired result. Teaching fundamentals, scheme, and agility work at an intense pace is a smarter way to condition your players. Technique: Great technique will make average athletes good and good athletes great. This includes starting in a great stance, not taking any false steps, and tackling with safe and fundamentally sound technique. Quickness: Football has become more of a speed and quickness game as opposed to size and power game. Quickness on defense is much more important than speed in the 40 yard dash. Defenses that emphasize quickness off of the ball will have success in playing downhill and changing the LOS to their advantage. Daily agility work is essential to becoming a quicker football team. Mental Discipline: Your players must focus on where they are supposed to line up in a given defense and what their assignment is once the ball is snapped. The more the players focus and understand, the more adjustments you can make to your scheme; this in turn makes it difficult for an offense to get a handle on what you are doing. USA Football Playbook 4

5 Pursuit and Tackling Defensive team pursuit is all about desire and effort. Having all 11 players wanting to get to the football on every play will make your defense successful. As a Coach, you can evaluate team pursuit in a couple of ways. In practice you can blow a whistle before a play ends to make players Freeze where they are. Point out to each one of them if they are in a desired pursuit position or not. The other tool coaches can use to evaluate pursuit and effort is watching game film and freezing the image through-out the film to account for all 11 players and their relationship to the football. Getting after the ball: Find players with mental toughness that show desire Practice at a high tempo to condition the defense to have the same effort level throughout the game Speed and Quickness: React quickly; confusion will slow you down Agility drills make athletes better Rules of pursuit: Start with a great stance and proper steps It s all in the angle make sure you can cut the ball off, no false steps Never follow the same colored jersey, good spacing = good pursuit Want to be the first to the ball Who has bootleg, counter and reverse responsibility? Keep someone at home, always Once you get there: Be under control in a balanced position, ready to strike Finish the tackle, never stop your feet Tackle in front, do not drag down the ball carrier if possible, minimize extra yards The pursuit effect: No long touchdowns Sends a message to your opponent that you will play every play to the whistle Promotes team unity, one guy breaks down, 10 others are backing him up Creates turnovers USA Football Playbook 5

6 Becoming a Good Tackling Team The skill of tackling in football is in many ways like the skill of hitting a fastball in baseball. If a player has a fear of getting hit by the pitch, developing the skills necessary to hit the pitch becomes difficult. The same goes for tackling; young players may have a natural fear of contact. They may also be hesitant to reveal this fear, therefore coaches should always introduce tackling and contact in a safe and gradual manner. Tackling drills should be a part of every practice; the drills should vary and should not promote full speed collisions, as this may increase a player s fear. There are several great drills available to coaches to make your team a better tackling team. KEYS TO BEING A GREAT TACKLER BODY POSITION: Get in breakdown position with feet about shoulder width apart, knees bent, back flat, head up, and hands at the belt ready to shoot Get your body across and in front of the ball carrier (on the sideline or angle tackles) Shoot the hands through and reach for high cloth on the back of the ball carrier Stay on your feet and run through the ball carrier - only leave your feet in desperation CONTACT: Once contact is made the hips should roll into the ball carrier Arms should squeeze the ball carrier as you reach for high cloth The feet should never stop, use power steps (shorter steps with force) and drive through the tackle Always keep your head up with your eyes on the belt area to see what you are hitting Be physical, win the collision by driving the ball carrier backwards FOOTWORK: Sprint to the football, speed and quickness will get you there As you approach the ball carrier, shorten the steps and ensure that your base is not too wide or narrow Chop the feet and focus on the belt area of the ball carrier, it will take you to him Use power steps to drive the ball carrier backwards Learn the proper way to teach tackling and fundamental tackling drills at USA Football Playbook 6

7 Defensive Goals Setting goals can be a great way to keep your defense motivated and focused on success. It is important to set goals that require the execution of defensive principles and priorities, however, it is equally important to set goals that can be attained and provide a connection between practice and game day success. For example, defensive players who work hard on becoming a better tracking team will gain confidence when their work pays off on game day. Coaches gain credibility when the goals they set for their players are met in game situations. Choose your goals carefully, make sure you can track them with film review or game day stats and adjust them throughout the year to encourage success. SAMPLE GOALS Win the game Limit your opponents point total (adjust to your offense s ability to score but should be less than 14) Create 3 turnovers: fumble recovery, interception, offense turn-over on downs Force punts No runs over 20 yards No pass plays over 25 yards Hold opponent to less than 100 yards total rushing Hold opponent to less than 150 yards total passing Do not allow any drives of 10 plays or more Do not allow opponent inside the 30 yard line No first downs inside the 20 yard line Score on defense All 11 players pursue the football on every play No missed tackles Force 5 loss of yardage plays No wrong gaps (on stunts every player attacks the assigned gap) All players on their feet or making a tackle when the whistle blows USA Football Playbook 7

8 Line Techniques To improve communication and ensure proper alignment for the defensive line it is best to employ the numbered technique system. Introduce this system early in the pre-season and drill it everyday you work on defense. Even the youngest players will understand the system s concepts after only a few practices. When aligning players in practice, during drills or scrimmages, always use numbered line calls to instill the system within them. It is important to note that there is no left or right to the system - the numbers remain consistent on each side of the ball. Line Technique Diagram i 3-2i 1-1 2i-3 4i Technique Head up alignment over the Center 1 Technique Shaded, splitting the middle of the Center with the inside foot 2 Technique Head up alignment over the Guard 2i Technique Shaded defender aligned on the inside eye of the Guard, outside foot splitting the middle of the Guard 3 Technique Outside shade of the Guard, splitting the middle with the inside foot 4 Technique Head up alignment on the Tackle 4i Technique Shaded defender aligned on the inside eye of the Tackle, outside foot splitting the middle of the Tackle 5 Technique Outside shade of the Tackle, splitting the middle of the Tackle with the inside foot 6 Technique Head up alignment over the Tight End 7 Technique Shaded defender aligned on the inside eye of the Tight End, outside foot splitting the middle of the Tight End 9 Technique Outside shade of the Tight End, splitting the middle with the inside foot USA Football Playbook 8

9 Glossary BCR Assignment for contain defender when the point of attack appears to be away from them. They are responsible for Bootlegs, Counters, and Reverses coming back to their side. BACKSIDE The area away from the point of attack. BOOT A play in which the Quarterback rolls away from the flow in attempt to catch the defense over pursuing. BOX Generally considered the area just outside the Tight Ends or Tackle (when an End is split) and about 5 yards beyond the Line of Scrimmage. COUNTER An offensive play that appears to be attacking in one direction and comes back in the opposite direction. CRACK A call made by the Cornerbacks to alert the inside defensive players that an outside receiver is blocking down in the box. CONTAIN Keeping the ball on the inside shoulder on pass or run. CUSHION Describes the space between the Cornerback and the receiver. D & D Down and Distance, knowing what down it is and how far the offense needs to go to gain a first down. Helps in alignment of Linebackers and Defensive Backs EDGE The area outside the Tight Ends or Tackle (when an End is split) and out to the sideline on each side of the ball. GAP The area between each Offensive Lineman in any given formation. Gaps are lettered in succession in relation to their distance from the center; for example, the area between the Center and each Guard is the A gap and the area between the Guards and the Tackles is the B gap. LOS This stands for Line of Scrimmage and is the imaginary line that runs from the football to each sideline. MAN TO MAN Coverage which isolates a defender on a receiver. MOTION Pre-snap movement by a receiver or Running Back. POINT OF ATTACK The specific hole or gap that the ball is designed to go to. If a dive play has been called for the A gap then the A gap is the Point of Attack. Offensive Linemen must understand where the Point of Attack is to properly apply their blocking rules. PRE-SNAP Describes the formation and motions that occur prior to the snap of the ball. PRESS An alignment which places a defender directly in front of a wide receiver to hold up, delay, or redirect his movement off of the LOS. PURSUIT The angles taken by defenders to cut off or track the ball carrier. RED ZONE The area between the 20 yard line and the goal line. REVERSE An offensive play in which the ball begins in one direction, is transferred to another player, and comes back in the opposite direction. STRONG SIDE Generally the side of the offense with two receivers or a single Tight End. STUNTS Describes the coordinated movement of the Defensive Line and the Linebackers as they attack gaps. UNBALANCED When the offensive formation puts four linemen on one side of the Center. WEAK SIDE The side of the football opposite the Strong Side. ZONE An area of the field covered by a single defensive player. USA Football Playbook 9

10 The Odd Front Defense 5-3 The odd front defense in either a five man front or three man front offers a football coach the ability to apply pressure at the ground zero of football which is the Center Quarterback exchange. The use of a Nose Guard either in a zero or one technique can create many problems for an offensive line. The 5-3 defense is an excellent base defensive scheme for all levels of play and affords a balanced approach to defending the run and the passing game. Each player in the 5-3 has basic rules and keys to follow that do not change much with various formations. This makes the defense easy to teach and more importantly easy for young players to learn. Blitz packages out of the 5-3 can be easily designed and difficult for the offense to detect, however the basic philosophy of the defense is a jam and contain scheme that does not require taking many chances with stunts or blitzes. It also combats the zone blocking scheme which more and more offenses have begun to employ. STOPPING THE RUN: Because of the timing and skill sets required to develop a passing game at the youth level you will find that most youth offenses are primarily run oriented. By placing eight players in the box, the 5-3 defense makes it very difficult for offenses to consistently run the football. The play of the front 5 should make it possible for the three Linebackers to run freely and make tackles. Coaches can employ slants, various stunts, or adjusted alignment techniques to keep the offense from becoming comfortable with a consistent approach. EASY TO TEACH: The Linemen in the 5-3 maintain consistent rules on almost all plays, therefore they can explode out of their stances and play with aggressive intensity and not have to rely on many keys or reads. While the Linebackers do have a few adjustments to make in relationship to formations or motions, these changes are easily drilled in individual and team time work at practice. The Defensive Backs will almost always be in man or a simple cover three zone that also lends itself to an easy teach and learn dynamic. FLEXIBLE: With the basic fundamentals and assignments learned in the 5-3 defense it becomes easy for the defense to switch to a 5-2, or the popular defense without much difficulty. Being flexible and able to adjust to various offensive approaches is a must for defensive football. Defensive units that line up the same way on every snap and come off the ball with the same gap assignments will become predictable and easier to scheme against. START AT THE POINT: When employing an odd front defense the selection of the Nose Guard and Middle Linebacker is very important. The Nose Guard will create blocking problems in both A gaps and the Middle Linebacker must be smart, athletic, and an excellent tackler. USA Football Playbook 10

11 Defensive Line Play 5-3 The front five linemen in the 5-3 defense must dominate the line of scrimmage and the offensive linemen from tackle to tackle. They must always get off the ball very quickly and hit their assignments, prepared to find the football and make a play. They must understand that if they do a great job that likely means the Linebackers will make the majority of the tackles, they must understand the concept of team defense and not allow the offensive Linemen to get to the second level and block the Linebackers. NOSE GUARD STANCE: 3 or 4 point stance. The 4 point stance may be better for younger players to maintain balance and the ability to stay low. When using the 3 point stance the player should place whatever hand feels most comfortable on the ground. TECHNIQUE ALIGNMENT: The Nose Guard will almost always line up in a zero technique head up on the center. On occasion he can line up in a one technique; this will likely force the offensive Guard on that side to execute a double team block. FIRST STEPS: The Nose will do a variety of things from his zero technique, including driving square through the Center or slanting to either A gap. His stance should allow him to get off the ball quickly and drive into the back field. DEFENSIVE TACKLES STANCE: 3 or 4 point stance. The 4 point stance may be better for younger players to maintain balance and the ability to stay low. When using the 3 point stance the player should place their outside hand on the ground. TECHNIQUE ALIGNMENT: The Tackles will line up in a couple of different techniques, the base technique would be a five, however we will also utilize a 4 and 4i technique with him. FIRST STEPS: The Tackles will almost always drive down through the Offensive Tackles with their inside shoulder and keep their outside shoulder square in the gap. Their first step has to be a short power step with the inside foot and then a longer step with the outside foot to get square. (Continued on next page). USA Football Playbook 11

12 Defensive Line Play 5-3 (Cont d) DEFENSIVE ENDS STANCE: 2 point stance with the outside leg back, knees bent, hands out in front. TECHNIQUE ALIGNMENT: The Defensive Ends will almost always line up in a 9 technique, outside eye of the Tight End. If the formation does not present a Tight End the Defensive End should slide down into a 5 technique and the Tackle will slide down into a 4i. FIRST STEPS: The Defensive end almost always has edge or outside contain, we want to jam the Tight End down inside and maintain outside leverage for anything coming his way. The first step is forward with the outside foot, staying square and not getting hooked or cracked down inside. 5-3 Line Alignment NG ALIGNS IN A O TECHNIQUE DT S 4-5 TECHNIQUE ADJUSTED FOR SPLITS NG ALIGNS IN A O TECHNIQUE DT S 4-5 TECHNIQUE ADJUSTED FOR SPLITS DE S 9 TECHNIQUE OUTSIDE SHADE OF TE DE S 9 TECHNIQUE OUTSIDE SHADE OF TE DE DT NG DT DE USA Football Playbook 12

13 Linebacker Play 5-3 The 5-3 defense affords the Linebackers to make lots of tackles, with a strong and quick defensive line the Linebackers should be able to run free to the ball. The Middle Linebacker must be the leader on the field, call out all the formation adjustments and recognize things like unbalanced lines, and changes in personnel that may tip a trick play. You can elect to have a strong side Linebacker and a weak side Linebacker, however it would be best to keep each of them on the same side and teach them differences between playing against a Tight End and no Tight End. MIDDLE LINEBACKER STANCE: 2 point stance. Weight should be on the balls of the feet to promote a downhill mentality; these players should be able to move towards the ball on the snap. The knees should be bent, hands out in front, eyes on Fullback or near Back. Do not stagger the feet, toes should be even. ALIGNMENT: Stacked on the Nose Guard when he is in a zero technique, if the Nose slides to a 1, the Middle Linebacker should stay over the Center and slide up towards the ball slightly. FIRST STEPS: If a stunt is called the Linebacker must take a directional step with the foot closest to his gap assignment and then quick power steps into the gap. If no stunt is called for the Middle Linebacker but the Nose Guard is slanting, then the MLB must take one read step towards the opposite A gap. If the Nose Guard is playing through the Center the MLB must read the Fullback and fill either A gap as needed. OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS STANCE: 2 point stance. Weight should be on the balls of the feet to promote a downhill mentality; these players should be able to move towards the ball on the snap. The knees should be bent, hands out in front, eyes on near back. Do not stagger the feet, toes should be even. TECHNIQUE ALIGNMENT: If there is a Tight End lined up on his side the Outside Linebacker lines up over the Offensive Tackle about 2-3 yards off of the ball. If no Tight End and only one wide player soften up just a little and cut off any slant pass. If there is a second wide player, inside shade on the inside receiver. (Continued on next page). USA Football Playbook 13

14 Linebacker Play 5-3 (Cont d) FIRST STEPS: If a stunt is called the Linebacker must take a directional step with the foot closest to his gap assignment and then quick power steps into the gap. Read step is to the C gap, if any backs are coming at him he must step up and meet them in the hole. If the ball goes away check for anything coming back, then pursue the football. 5-3 Linebacker Alignment NG ALIGNS IN A O TECHNIQUE DT S 4-5 TECHNIQUE ADJUSTED FOR SPLITS DE S 9 TECHNIQUE OUTSIDE SHADE OF MLB STACKS ON NG. ADJUST DEPTH FOR DOWN & DISTANCE OLB STACKED ON DT ADJUST DEPTH FOR DOWN AND DISTANCE TE LB MLB LB DE DT NG DT DE USA Football Playbook 14

15 Defensive Back Play 5-3 In the 5-3 defense or any defensive scheme we expect our defensive backs to always think pass first and then provide run support. When the offensive formation presents only one Split End or Flanker to their side, the Cornerbacks will have those players in a man to man technique (we will cover zone assignments later). If there is not a player outside the box to defend the Cornerbacks will check Tight End and near back for any quick passes or swings out of the backfield. The Safety is just that, no Offensive Player should ever get behind the Safety, he thinks pass first and second, and only comes up to support the run when the ball crosses the line of scrimmage. CORNERBACK STANCE: 2 point stance. Weight should be even over the feet, outside leg back slightly, knees bent and over the feet, hands out in front, eyes on keys. ALIGNMENT: VS. Wide Receiver: Adjust the depth off of the line of scrimmage according to the speed of the Offensive player and the down and distance. There is no need to press the coverage on a 3rd down and 10 yards to go. VS. No Wide Receiver: Set up 4 yards outside the Defensive End and 4 yards off of the line of scrimmage. FIRST STEPS: Take two read steps backwards and focuses on the football. Is the Quarterback showing run or pass? As long as the ball is going backwards from the line of scrimmage think pass. Cover the assigned receiver and follow the football with your eyes. Once you see run, if the ball is coming towards you squeeze down maintaining outside leverage. If the ball is going away take a wide pursuit angle, you may be the last defender able to stop a score. USA Football Playbook 15

16 Defensive Back Play 5-3 (Cont d) SAFETY STANCE: 2 point stance. Weight should be evenly distributed over the feet, and more upright then the Linebackers with eyes on the Quarterback.. TECHNIQUE ALIGNMENT: Safety alignment should be 10 yards from the ball and centered over the football or slightly towards the wide side of the field when the ball is on the hash mark. FIRST STEPS: Take two read steps backwards and focuses on the football. Is the Quarterback showing run or pass? As long as the ball is going backwards from the line of scrimmage think pass. Check the Tight End or backs coming out of the backfield provide deep support and watch the football and the eyes of the player with it. 5-3 Defensive Back Alignment S 10 yards centered over the ball S LB MLB LB CB CB DE DT NG DT DE CB 4yds X 4yds from TE CB 4yds X 4yds from TE (Continued on next page). USA Football Playbook 16

17 Playing the Run 5-3 The 5-3 allows Coaches to devise various run blitzes that get the Linebackers playing down hill and towards the LOS. The most common stunt is between the Nose Guard and Middle Linebacker; they fill each A gap and thus occupy the Center and 2 Guards. Run blitzes for the Outside Linebackers can also be executed with the Defensive Tackles at the B and C gaps. Finally Coaches can slant the Tackles and the Nose Guard based on tendencies shown through scouting and hold the Linebackers to read and react. BASE 5-3 ASSIGNMENTS Left Defensive End Line up in a 9 technique. Jam the Tight End inside and maintain outside leverage. Control the edge, contain the QB on rollouts. Ball goes away play BCR Left Defensive Tackle Line up in a 4 or 5 technique depending on splits and jam the OT into the B gap with the inside shoulder and step square into the Left Outside Linebacker Stack behind DT step to C gap if power comes step in and close. Read the near back and the guards to find the Point of Attack C. No more then 1 yard deep. Low Pad Level Left Cornerback If a wide player is in the formation, line up with inside lever Nose Guard Line up in a 0 technique and slant to the strong side A gap, age and play man coverage. No wide player line up 4 x 4 and play edge contain getting square and driving the Center back. No more then 1 yard deep, stay reading the near back. Always start with 2 read steps backwards. square. Low Pad Level Right Defensive Tackle Line up in a 4 or 5 technique depending on splits and jam the OT into the B gap with the inside shoulder and step square into the C. No more then 1 yard deep. Low Pad Level Right Defensive End Line up in a 9 technique. Jam the Tight End inside and maintain outside leverage. Control the edge, contain the QB on rollouts. Ball goes away play BCR Middle Linebacker Stack behind Nose Guard and on the snap step to the weak side A gap, if power comes there close the gap. Read the fullback and guards to find the Point of Attack Safety Line up 10 yards centered over the ball. Read the QB and outside receivers. Play pass first 2 read steps back, any inside runs come up and finish. Right Outside Linebacker Stack behind DT step to C gap if power comes step in and close. Read the near back and the guards to find the Point of Attack Right Cornerback If a wide player is in the formation, line up with inside leverage and play man coverage. No wide player line up 4 x 4 and play edge contain reading the near back. Always start with 2 read steps backwards. (Continued on next page). USA Football Playbook 17

18 Playing the Run 5-3 (Cont d) COACHING POINTS: 4 The Middle Linebacker must communicate all formations adjustments or unbalanced lines 4 Quickness of the ball, without penetrating too deep are keys to Defensive Line play, Jam and Contain 4 Linebackers should take 1 read step forward, if there is no action coming at them get in the alley and run to the ball 4 Defensive Ends can not get caught inside or too deep in the backfield, when the ball goes away they must stay home for BCR 4 Defensive Backs must think pass first, if Offensive Coaches see them getting lazy they will attack with play action passes 5-3 Defense Defending the Run S LB MLB LB CB CB DT DT DE NG DE DE: JAM THE TE AND SHUT DOWN THE EDGE LB S: TAKE 1 READ STEP IF POA ISN T COMING AT YOU FLOW TO THE FOOTBALL DB S: 2 READ STEPS BACK FIND THE FOOTBALL USA Football Playbook 18

19 Playing the Pass: Cover 2 Zone 5-3 The 5-3 can defend the quick short passing game best out of a man coverage concept; however it does set up as an excellent cover 2 or 3 zone package as well. With younger players the threat of a downfield vertical passing game is not high, therefore defensive backs should press cover outside receivers with inside leverage to take away the slant and hitch pattern. The Defensive Ends must never allow a Tight End a free release off of the ball for a dump pass. In the zone package the age of the players and their ability to stretch the field should dictate the depth of the zone defenders. For younger players or against teams that utilize a short to intermediate passing game the Cover 2 is the better choice. 5-3 COVER 2 ZONE ASSIGNMENTS Left Defensive End Line up in a 9 technique. Jam the Tight End inside and maintain outside leverage. Once you read pass attack the QB from the outside, jam any backs that may cross your face Left Defensive Tackle Line up in a 4 or 5 technique depending on splits and j am the OT into the B gap with the inside shoulder and step square into the C. Once you read pass attack the QB jam any back that comes your way Nose Guard Line up in a 0 technique and slant to the strong side A gap, getting square and driving the Center back. Jam any back that comes at you and once you read pass get after the QB Right Defensive Tackle Line up in a 4 or 5 technique depending on splits and jam the OT into the B gap with the inside shoulder and step square into the C. Once you read pass attack the QB jam any back that comes your way Right Defensive End Line up in a 9 technique. Jam the Tight End inside and maintain outside leverage. Once you read pass attack the QB from the outside, jam any backs that may cross your face away play BCR Middle Linebacker Stack behind Nose Guard and on the snap step to the weak side A gap, if power comes step in and close the gap. Once you read pass get to the weak side curl zone Left Outside Linebacker Stack behind DT step to C gap if power comes step in and close the gap. Once you read pass get to zone. Weak Side: Flat Area. Strong Side: Curl Zone Left Cornerback If a wide player is in the formation, line up with inside leverage and take away and quick pass plays. Once you read pass get to zone. Strong Side: Flat Area Weak Side: Deep Half Safety Line up 10 yards centered over the ball. Take 2 read steps, once you read pass get to deep half zone coverage. Right Outside Linebacker Stack behind DT step to C gap if power comes step in and close the gap. Once you read pass get to zone. Weak Side: Flat Area. Strong Side: Curl Zone Right Cornerback If a wide player is in the formation, line up with inside leverage and take away and quick pass plays. Once you read pass get to zone. Strong Side: Flat Area Weak Side: Deep Half (Continued on next page). USA Football Playbook 19

20 Playing the Pass: Cover 2 Zone 5-3 (Cont d) COACHING POINTS: 4 The Middle Linebacker must communicate all formations adjustments or unbalanced lines 4 Defensive Linemen must jam all backs coming through the line and not allow them to get into patterns 4 Adjust depth of the zone to match the Quarterbacks ability to throw the football 4 Defensive Ends must jam the Tight Ends on the snap to defend quick passes 4 Defensive Backs must take away any quick routes before they drop into their zones. 5-3 Defense Cover 2 Zone S CB LB MLB LB DE DT NG DT DE CB USA Football Playbook 20

21 Playing the Pass: Cover 3 Zone 5-3 The 5-3 can defend the quick short passing game best out of a man coverage concept; however it does set up as an excellent cover 2 or 3 zone package as well. With younger players the threat of a downfield vertical passing game is not high, therefore defensive backs should press cover outside receivers with inside leverage to take away the slant and hitch pattern. The Defensive Ends must never allow a Tight End a free release off of the ball for a dump pass. In the zone package the age of the players and their ability to stretch the field should dictate the depth of the zone defenders. When facing a Quarterback with a strong arm, or if the down and distance requires a deeper pass completion the Cover 3 zone is a better choice. 5-3 COVER 3 ZONE ASSIGNMENTS Left Defensive End Line up in a 9 technique. Jam the Tight End inside and maintain outside leverage. Once you read pass attack the QB from the outside, jam any backs that may cross your face Left Defensive Tackle Line up in a 4 or 5 technique depending on splits and jam the OT into the B gap with the inside shoulder and step square into the C. Once you read pass attack the QB jam any back that comes your way Nose Guard Line up in a 0 technique and slant to the strong side A gap, getting square and driving the Center back. Jam any back that comes at you and once you read pass get after the QB Right Defensive Tackle Line up in a 4 or 5 technique depending on splits and jam the OT into the B gap with the inside shoulder and step square into the C. Once you read pass attack the QB jam any back that comes your way Right Defensive End Line up in a 9 technique. Jam the Tight End inside and maintain outside leverage. Once you read pass attack the QB from the outside, jam any backs that may cross your face Middle Linebacker Stack behind Nose Guard and on the snap get to the middle curl zone. Left Outside Linebacker Stack behind DT, on the snap get to flat zone area. Left Cornerback Drop off of any wide player with a 5-8 yard cushion. Keep the receiver in front of you as you drop into the deep third. Safety Line up 10 yards centered over the ball. Get to deep middle zone, keep everything in front of you. Right Outside Linebacker Stack behind DT, on the snap get to flat zone area. Right Cornerback Drop off of any wide player with a 5-8 yard cushion. Keep the receiver in front of you as you drop into the deep third. (Continued on next page). USA Football Playbook 21

22 Playing the Pass Cover 3 Zone 5-3 (Cont d) COACHING POINTS: 4 This is a safe pass zone concept, Linebackers should play pass first and get to their zone areas. If they read run, only come up when the ball has crossed the LOS. 4 Defensive Linemen must jam all backs coming through the line and not allow them to get into patterns and put pressure on the Quarterback 4 Depth of zone should be adjusted based on the situation; down and distance, time remaining on the clock. 4 Defensive Ends must jam the Tight Ends on the snap to defend quick passes 4 Defensive Backs do not play over aggressive, keep the offensive players in front, do not attempt to make an interception, that leaves your zone empty behind you 4 If the Quarterback rolls to one side, the 6 players in the zone must rotate as shown in diagram Defense Cover 3 Zone S CB LB MLB DE DT NG DT DE LB CB USA Football Playbook 22

23 The Odd Front Defense With the introduction of offense s that spread the field and attack from sideline to sideline defensive coaches have had to develop schemes to better defend that approach. The defense is a great approach to defending spread offenses and also an easy transition from a base 5-3 defense. The defense removes two defensive Linemen from the 5-3 and replaces them with two hybrid players that will play outside of the box. The three defensive Linemen should be the Nose Guard and the remaining best two from the 5-3. The Hybrid defenders that make up the are combination outside Linebackers and Defensive Backs. They must be athletic, smart, and excellent tacklers. STOPPING THE WIDE OPEN ATTACK: The gets more defensive players on their feet and allows them to adjust their alignment to various offensive formations. In a traditional spread formation the offense will have 5 offensive linemen, the provides for 6 players in the box, this creates a run stopping numbers advantage for the defense. The Hybrid defenders must be able to support against the run and defend the pass. Their alignment creates confusion for Quarterbacks and Coaches as to whether they will be blitzing, press cover, or drop into a zone. EASY TO TEACH: All schemes must be easy to teach, so players can learn them and not be confused on the field. A confused mind causes slow feet, and slow feet on defense will lead to offensive success. Keeping the rules and keys simple will allow the defensive players to run to the ball and make plays. Once you have taught the 5-3, the becomes easier to learn. The rules for the defensive players in the box are similar as well as the Cornerbacks and Safety. FLEXIBLE: If the majority of your opponents use a spread or wide open offense, installing the as your base defense is the best option. However, if you come across a team that has a more traditional approach and wants to run the ball between the tackles, transitioning to a 5-3 defense is an easy change to make. Going from 5-3 to within a game will give you more flexibility on down and distance situations where defending the pass makes more sense. Switching defenses is always difficult for young offensive players to attack; it will cause confusion for blocking schemes. (Continued on next page). USA Football Playbook 23

24 The Front 6: In the defense we treat the 3 defensive Linemen and the 3 Linebackers as the Front 6 defenders. In a spread offense that has a single back and four outside receivers, the offensive line has only 5 Linemen to combat the front 6. The defense allows for various blitz and stunt options that will cause confusion for the offensive Linemen. NOSE GUARD STANCE: 3 or 4 point stance. The 4 point stance may be better for younger players to maintain balance and the ability to stay low. When using the 3 point stance the player should place whatever hand feels most comfortable on the ground. TECHNIQUE ALIGNMENT: The Nose Guard will always line up in a zero technique head up on the center. FIRST STEPS: The Nose will do a variety of things from his zero technique, including driving square through the Center or slanting to either A gap. His stance should allow him to get off the ball quickly and drive into the back field. DEFENSIVE ENDS STANCE: 3 or 4 point stance. The 4 point stance may be better for younger players to maintain balance and the ability to stay low. When using the 3 point stance the player should place their outside hand on the ground. TECHNIQUE ALIGNMENT: The Ends will line up in a 5 technique. FIRST STEPS: The Ends drive inside and play through the outside half of the Tackle. The first step is with the inside foot and then a power step forward with the outside foot, stay square. (Continued on next page). USA Football Playbook 24

25 The Front 6: MIDDLE LINEBACKER STANCE: 2 point stance. Weight should be on the balls of the feet to promote a downhill mentality. The knees should be bent, hands out in front, and toes even. ALIGNMENT: Stacked on the Nose Guard. FIRST STEPS: If a stunt is called the Linebacker must take a directional step with the foot closest to his gap assignment and then quick power steps into the gap. If no stunt is called for the Middle Linebacker he should read the fullback or single back to find the football. OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS STANCE: 2 point stance. Weight should be on the balls of the feet to promote a downhill mentality. The knees should be bent, hands out in front, and outside foot slightly back. TECHNIQUE ALIGNMENT: Stacked on the Defensive End FIRST STEPS: If a stunt is called the Linebacker must take a directional step with the foot closest to his gap assignment and then quick power steps into the gap. Read step is to the C gap, if any backs are coming at him he must step up and meet them in the hole. If the ball goes away check for anything coming back, then pursue the football. (Continued on next page). USA Football Playbook 25

26 The Front 6: (Cont d) Front 6 Alignment NG: O TECHNIQUE OVER THE C DE: 5 TECHNIQUE OUTSIDE SHADE OF OT ALL LB S STACKED ON LINEMEN ADJUST DEPTH TO D & D LB MLB LB DE NG DE USA Football Playbook 26

27 Defensive Back Play The incorporates 5 defensive backs; however the 2 Hybrid players often align in a Linebacker position. For the purpose of these rules we will cover two formations by the offense; the spread and a double tight end. Please note the first steps rule will change depending on the cover schemes. HYBRID STANCE: 2 point stance. Weight should be even over the feet, outside leg back slightly, knees bent and over the feet, hands out in front, eyes on keys. ALIGNMENT: VS. Spread: Inside shade of #2 receiver, adjust depth for down and distance and offense s ability to throw the ball downfield VS. Tight End: 9 technique over the Tight End 2-3 yards off of the LOS FIRST STEPS: Adjust for defensive call, in pass approach take two read steps back, if ball comes at you in a sweep spill the football to the sideline, do not turn it back inside. CORNERBACK STANCE: 2 point stance. Weight should be even over the feet, outside leg back slightly, knees bent and over the feet, hands out in front, eyes on keys. ALIGNMENT: VS. Spread or Single Wide Receiver: Inside shade of #1 receiver; adjust depth for down and distance and offense s ability to throw the ball downfield. VS. No Wide Receiver: Set up 6 yards outside the Tight End and 5 yards off of the line of scrimmage. FIRST STEPS: Adjust for defensive call, in pass approach take two read steps back, if ball comes at you in a sweep spill the football to the sideline, do not turn it back inside. USA Football Playbook 27

28 Defensive Back Play (Cont d) SAFETY STANCE: 2 point stance. Weight should be evenly distributed over the feet, and more upright then the Linebackers with eyes on the Quarterback. TECHNIQUE ALIGNMENT: Safety alignment should be 10 yards from the ball and centered over the football or slightly towards the wide side of the field when the ball is on the hash mark FIRST STEPS: Take two read steps backwards and focuses on the football. Is the Quarterback showing run or pass? As long as the ball is going backwards from the line of scrimmage think pass Defensive Back Alignment VS. TE H: 9 TECHNIQUE ABOUT 3 YDS DEEP S: 10 YARDS DEEP CENTERED OVER THE BALL CB: INSIDE SHADE OF RECEIVER CB S LB MLB LB H H DE NG DE CB: 6 yds X 5 yds CB USA Football Playbook 28

29 Playing the Run The is designed to combat spread offenses, therefore its approach is defending running plays that attempt to get outside the hash marks and to the edge and quick passes. Defending the inside running plays in the is similar to how we approach it in the 5-3, the down Lineman must dominate the Offensive Line and allow the Linebackers to run to the football. The spread option run is a staple play for the spread offense in this assignment page we will cover defending the spread option play ASSIGNMENTS VS. SPREAD OPTION LEFT Left Hybrid Line up inside shade of #2 receiver. Read option play; come up field to the LOS and close off running lane for QB if he keeps the football. Do not over penetrate, spill the football to the sideline Left Defensive End Line up in a 5 technique OT should block down, Read option play and come flat down the LOS, cutting off and cut back for the ball carrier. If QB keeps come back down the line Nose Guard Line up in a 0 technique and slant to A gap opposite the single back alignment. Drive the center into the A gap and work down the line. Right Defensive End Line up in a 5 technique and jam the OT into the B gap and close that running lane down for the ball carrier. Right Hybrid Line up inside shade of #2 receiver. Read option play, come up field to the LOS and close off running lane for RB Do not over penetrate, spill the football to the sideline Middle Linebacker Stack behind Nose Guard. Read option play, fill play side B gap. Left Outside Linebacker Stack behind the DE. Read option play and come down hill to play QB if he keeps the football. Stay square and cut down the spacing between the LOS and the QB Left Cornerback Line up inside shade of #1 receiver. Read option play, work to the LOS and close down the spacing between the sideline and ball carrier. Spill the football to the sideline Safety Line up 10 yards centered over the ball. Read option and know where the football is, come down hill and attack the football from inside out. Close off any cut back lanes Right Outside Linebacker Stack behind the DE. Read option play and come down hill to squeeze the C gap and tackle the football. Stay square and do not turn inside. Right Cornerback Line up inside shade of #1 receiver. Read option play, work to the LOS and close down the spacing between the sideline and ball carrier. Spill the football to the sideline (Continued on next page). USA Football Playbook 29 (Continued on next page).

30 Playing the Run (Cont d) COACHING POINTS: 4 Defending an option play requires everyone to play their assignment, if a defender free lance s to make a play, the offense will take advantage of that. 4 Quickness off the ball, without penetrating too deep are keys to Defensive Line play 4 Running Backs will always look for the cut back lane, we want to spill them to the sideline 4 Front 6 defenders must stay square on the play side with a low pad level 4 Defensive Backs must think pass first, if Offensive Coaches see them getting lazy they will attack with play action passes Defending the Spread Option Run S LB C SS MLB LB DE NT DE SS C USA Football Playbook 30

31 Playing the Pass Cover 3 Zone The is an excellent scheme to defend against a wide open passing attack. The middle of the field is rarely utilized, therefore you can blitz with the MLB if you choose. By playing a traditional cover 3 zone out of the defense you can disguise blitzes from the Hybrid s and outside Linebackers and confuse the offense by running a cover 3 invert. We will discuss and diagram the basic cover 3 and the cover 3 invert COVER 3 & COVER 3 INVERT ASSIGNMENTS Left Hybrid Line up inside shade of #2 receiver. COVER 2: Get to flat and defend the zone. INVERT: Get to deep third and defend the zone Left Defensive End Line up in a 5 technique. Play through the outside half of the OT and get pressure on the QB Nose Guard Line up in a 0 technique and drive through the C and get pressure on the QB. Look for screen and draw plays Right Defensive End Line up in a 5 technique. Play through the outside half of the OT and get pressure on the QB Right Hybrid Line up inside shade of #2 receiver. COVER 2: Get to flat and defend \the zone. INVERT: Get to deep third and defend the zone Middle Linebacker Stack behind Nose Guard. Get to middle curl area and defend the zone. Left Outside Linebacker Stack behind the DE. Get to left curl and hook area and defend the zone Left Cornerback Line up inside shade of #1 receiver. COVER 2: Get to deep third and defend the zone. INVERT: Stay in flat area and defend the zone Safety Line up 10 yards centered over the ball. Play deep middle third and keep everything in front of you Right Outside Linebacker Stack behind the DE. Get to right curl and hook area and defend the zone Right Cornerback Line up inside shade of #1 receiver. COVER 2: Get to deep third and defend the zone. INVERT: Stay in flat area and defend the zone (Continued on next page). USA Football Playbook 31

32 Playing the Pass Cover 3 Zone (Cont d) COACHING POINTS: 4 This is a safe pass zone concept, Linebackers should play pass first and get to their zone areas. If they read run, only come up when the ball crossed the LOS 4 Defensive Linemen must get off of the ball quickly and apply pressure to the QB 4 Depth of zone should be adjusted based on the situation; down and distance, time remaining on the clock. 4 Do not give away the Invert switch by cheating on alignment, each pre-snap alignment should look the same 4 Deep third defenders must keep everything in front of them and play for the tackle not the interception Cover 3 Zone Cover 3 Zone Invert FS FS CB SS MLB LB LB DE NT DE SS CB CB SS MLB LB LB DE NT DE SS CB USA Football Playbook 32

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