The Sports Archives History Lesson – Popular American Football Defenses!

If you’re getting ready to play football for the first time, or if you just want to have a better understanding of the game, you need to know the most popular football defenses. These are the defenses that are commonly used by teams at all levels.

4-3 Defense

Football 4-3 DefenseThe 4-3 defense is one of the most popular defenses in football.  This defense uses:

Four defensive linemen (two tackles and two ends)

  • The defensive linemen stay within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Their primary job is to protect against the run, but they may also be called on to protect the flats.

Three linebackers

  • Typically, one linebacker will have a specific role, and the other two linebackers will react as the play unfolds. For instance, one linebacker may go in for a sack, while the other two hang back until they determine if they need to guard against the run or the pass.

Four defensive backs (two cornerbacks and two safeties)

  • Typically, the defensive backs protect against pass plays. However, they could split jobs, where some guard against the pass and others rush the passer.

Some teams have some trouble with this defense because it only uses four down lineman. If the linemen are small, the team will have a hard time protecting against the run. That changes with bigger teams, though. If your team has large down lineman, this is a powerful defense, especially since it can be modified.

Nickel Defense

Football Nickel DefenseThe nickel defense gets its name because it uses five defensive backs instead of four. The fifth defensive back is referred to as a nickelback.

Some teams put in a third wide receiver in place of a fullback when playing offense. When that occurs, a team may run the nickel defense to defend against the pass play.

The nickel defense uses:

  • Four down lineman (two tackles and two ends)
  • Two linebackers
  • Five defensive backs (two cornerbacks, a nickelback and two safeties)

Two defensive ends sit on each end of the line, with two defensive tackles in between them. Two linebackers sit behind the defensive line.

Two cornerbacks and a nickelback cover the wide receivers.

If this defense is run correctly, it’s very difficult for the offense to complete a pass for yardage.

Goal Line Defense

Football Goal line DefenseThis defense is used to stop the run right by the goal line. The middle two linebackers are used to stop the running back. They stay back to stop him as he runs toward the goal line. They are prepared to modify their strategy if the running back leaves his feet and dives for the end zone. Since they are back, they are also able to protect against a pass play to the middle of the end zone. The two cornerbacks guard against the run first, but also work to contain any other plays that may occur. If a pass occurs, the cornerbacks will fall back to the corners of the end zone. The six down linemen push into the offensive back field. The safety’s job is to read the quarterback and play the ball.

Now, you can use this information to play or watch football. Be sure to tell your family and friends about the most popular football defenses. You’ll be certain to impress them with your knowledge.

A football fanatic, Tommy Albrecht writes blog post and articles related to sports and health topics, he also loves staying fit by working out from home.

Photo Credits:

Related Blogs:
The Sports Archives History Lesson – Football’s Four Downs
The Sports Archives History Lesson – Football’s Taunting Rule

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3 Responses to The Sports Archives History Lesson – Popular American Football Defenses!

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