American football strategy is the strategic deployment of players and assignment of tasks to offensive and defensive players of American football. The Tennessee Titans are a professional American football team based in Nashville Tennessee. The Houston Texans is a professional American football team based in Houston, Texas. American football, known in the United States and Canada simply as football, is a competitive Team sport known for mixing strategy with A Strategy is a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal, most often "winning It derives by analogy from military strategy as the science and art of command as applied to the overall planning and conduct of play. Military strategy is a National defence policy implemented by Military organisations to pursue desired strategic goals Derived from the Greek
In early American football, the planned strategy of offensive players ("plays") and positioning and assignment of defensive players ("coverage") was rudimentary. A Strategy is a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal, most often "winning As the game evolved, plays and coverage become more complex, and roles for offensive and defensive players became more exact and demanding. Modern strategy involves certain conventions and assignments, but can also use legal but unorthodox patterns, often called trick plays, to surprise an opponent. A trick play, also known as a gadget play or gimmick play, is a play in American football that uses deception and unorthodox strategies to fool
The rules of professional and college American football permit a broad range of assignments and deployment of offensive and defensive players. Much of the excitement in American football derives from the lightning-quick unfolding of offensive and defensive strategies matched against each other, and the tactical ability of individual players to adapt and react to counter the opponent's strategy.
The goal of offensive strategy is to move the ball to score more points than the opponent and to prevent the opponent from doing the same by reducing the amount of game clock time remaining, denying the opponent possession of the ball, and preventing them from advancing the ball into scoring position. In order to do so, coaches and players choose to execute selected plays based on a variety of factors including the opponent’s defensive strategy; the talent, skill, health, and experience of the players on both the offensive and defensive teams; the amount of time remaining before halftime or the end of the game; and the number of points that either team would need to score in order to take the lead and win the game. In some team Sports such as Football (soccer and rugby, Matches are played in two halves
On offense, there are four types of players: linemen, backs, quarterbacks, and receivers. Lineman in American football. (See also American and Canadian football position names. A running back ( RB) is the position of a player on an American or Canadian football team who usually lines up in the offensive backfield. A wide receiver is an offensive position in American and Canadian football The above-mentioned considerations will determine what formations and plays the team will run. The basic offensive positions and those players' duties vary from one offensive scheme to another.
The position name (as well as the initial abbreviations recognized by coaches, players, and fans alike, shown in quotes below) may vary from one team's playbook to another, but these are the ones most commonly used:
Before the ball is snapped the offensive team lines up in a formation. A formation in American football refers to the position players line up in before the start of a down. Most teams have a "base" formation they prefer to line up in, while other teams leave the defense guessing. Teams will often have "special formations" which they only use in obvious passing situations, short yardage or goal line situations, or formations they have developed for that particular game just to confuse the defense. Because there are a nearly unlimited number of possible formations, only a few of the more common ones are listed below.
In the calling of a play, just like on defense, there are condensed play calls that are translated into more complicated plays in the heads of each player. In American football, the pro set or splitback formation is a traditional formation, commonly a "base" set used by professional and amateur The shotgun formation is a formation used by the Offensive team in American and Canadian football. The wishbone formation, also known simply as the ’bone, is an offensive formation in American football. The I formation is one of the most common offensive formations in American football. The I formation is one of the most common offensive formations in American football. Single set back (also known as the "Lone Setback" or "Ace" formation or "Oneback" or "Solo" is an offensive base formation in American An example of a running play the quarterback would call in the huddle would be:
The first word denotes the formation of the offense; in this case it is the Pro Set, a one tight end, two wide receiver formation where the fullback and running back line up at equal depths in the backfield, one player to either side. In Sport, a huddle is when a team gathers together usually in a tight circle to strategise motivate and/or celebrate
The second word indicates the strong side of the formation, generally the side featuring the tight end and flanker (a wide receiver lined up away from the line of scrimmage) in most formations. The split end receiver lines up on the opposite (weak) side, on the line of scrimmage. The tailback also lines up on the weakside. There are formations where there are exceptions like I-form, where the tailback is lined up neither left nor right, since the tailback is inline with the fullback and quarterback, or trips bunch, where all three receivers are on the same side.
The first digit in the number ('2' in the above example) denotes who the ball is going to:
The second digit in the number ('5' in the above example) denotes where the ball carrier will pass through the line (between two linemen, called the "hole"). In accordance with the Manual of Style (see) Canadian English is used throughout this article (see Canadian_English#Spelling) The holes are even to the right of the center and odd to the left of the center. In this case,
TE T G C G T^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^7 5 3 1 0 2 4 6
As indicated above, the "1" gap is between the left guard and center, the "0" hole refers to a play going through the center (usually a quarterback sneak) and the "2" hole refers to the gap between center and right guard.
The last word indicates the type of play. In this case ("power"), the fullback would be leading the running back through the hole.
The receivers have their own designations too:
Here is a diagram of how the formation would look based on the play called:
Y T G C G T XZ QB FB TB
Were this to be the Base I formation, with the tight end on the right, then there would be a 8 hole, which would be outside the tight end. As it is, this play would be a run between the tackle and the tight end. In American and Canadian football, offensive tackles ( OT, T) are a part of the Offensive line. The tight end ( TE) is a position in American football on the Offensive team.
Passing uses a different type of naming. Since it is not always certain who the ball is going to, each receiver has a route. An example is:
I Y-Motion 245 H-Swing
Again, the I is the formation, and there is no formation modifier word this time. However, there is the "Y-Motion" call (this is an arbitrary name, there are different ways of calling motion for every coach. ). In this case it refers to the Y-receiver, and calls for him to motion across the formation to the other side moments before the snap is called. This time the digits correspond to 3 different receivers, and each digit represents a number on the passing tree. The first digit is the X receiver, the second is the Y receiver, and the last is the Z receiver.
0 - Quick hitch
1 - Quick out
2 - Slant
3 - Deep out
4 - Drag
5 - Corner
6 - Curl
7 - Wheel
8 - Post
9 - Fly
In this case, the split end is running a slant, the tight end is running a drag, and the wide out is running a corner. A hitch route is a pattern run by a receiver in American football, where the receiver will act as if he is running a pattern down field taking possibly An Out route (or Jet route is a pattern run by a receiver in American Football, where the receiver will start running a Fly pattern but A Slant route is a pattern run by a receiver in American Football, where the receiver runs up the field at approximately a 45 degree angle heading An Out route (or Jet route is a pattern run by a receiver in American Football, where the receiver will start running a Fly pattern but A Drag route is a pattern run by a receiver in American Football, where the receiver runs only a couple yards downfield then turns 90° towards the A corner route is a pattern run by a receiver in American Football, where the receiver runs up the field and then turns at approximately a 45 degree A Curl route is a pattern run by a receiver in American Football, where the receiver appears to be running a Fly pattern but after a set A Wheel route is a pattern run by a receiver or Running Back in American Football. A post is a moderate to deep passing route in American football in which a receiver runs 7-10 yards from the Line of scrimmage straight A Fly Route, also called a Streak route or Go route, is a pattern run by a receiver in American Football, where the receiver runs straight The H-Swing call is a route for the backfield, in this case a swing route for the halfback (tailback). This call is optional, the absence of which calls for the halfback to block.
In both running and passing plays, blocking schemes are tacit and rehearsed. Different types of plays call for different schemes and those differences can also be encoded in the play. For example, plays in the 200s might designate play action pass protection whereas the 300s might refer to a blocking scheme designed for long QB drops. A play action pass is a type of American football play The play action or "PA" for short appears to be a running play but is actually a pass play in this way Passing plays call for the linemen to step back and protect against the pass rush, with the backs and tight ends occasionally helping. There is variation to this, in the form of sprintouts, rollouts, play action passes and screen passes. American football, a bootleg play is a play in which the Quarterback runs with the ball in the direction of either Sideline behind the Line A play action pass is a type of American football play The play action or "PA" for short appears to be a running play but is actually a pass play in this way A screen pass is a type of play in American football. During a screen pass many things are going on at the same time in order to fool the defense into thinking a long pass Running plays call for the linemen to get a push against the defense, moving forward to help the running back gain yardage by opening holes and blocking would-be tacklers. Variations may be pulling guards (often used on trap, counter, and other plays to the outside) and draw plays. In American football, a counter run is a running play in which the Running back will take a step in the opposite direction of the play only to get the handoff in A draw is a type of American football play The draw appears to be a passing play but is actually a running play in this way it can be considered the opposite of the
Often the choice of running play depends on the strengths of an offensive team, and the weaknesses of the defense they are opposing. For example, plays to the outside of the offensive tackles are often advantageous for a team fielding a fast running back, since it would ostensibly reduce the effectiveness of the slower defensive linemen, whereas inside runs would be favored by a slower "power" running back, since the back is easier to tackle running to a side rather than straight ahead. Some plays also offer better cutback lanes to better allow an agile running back to make defenders miss and thereby increase yardage.
Similarly, run strategy can be decided by the weaknesses of the defense. A weakness of the interior defensive linemen, the tackles, may be targeted by running a lot of runs inside, since theoretically the offensive guards could move the tackles at will, creating wide open holes for the back to run through. A team with weak defensive ends may have trouble containing the runner outside, and the offense would therefore look to get outside and break off some big runs.
Sometimes, a run play and pass play are mixed in a trick play called a "Flea-Flicker", where the Quarterback hands the ball to the Running Back who pretends to run but stops immediately and under-arms the ball back to the Quarterback. A " plunge " (or " dive " is a type of play in American Football in which the ball carrier (usually a Running back or a fullback A Sweep is a running play in American Football where the Running back takes a pitch or handoff from the Quarterback and starts running parallel to the A reverse (sometimes referred to as an end reverse) is a relatively common Trick play in American football that involves one or more abrupt changes in the An off-tackle run is a play in which the Running back runs to the outside of a tackle through a hole created by the tackle and Tight end. Student Body Right is the popular nickname for a simple running play in American football known as a Sweep right in which the Tailback runs toward the A draw is a type of American football play The draw appears to be a passing play but is actually a running play in this way it can be considered the opposite of the The counter trey is a misdirection running play used in American football. A quarterback sneak is a play in American football in which the Quarterback, upon taking the center snap dives ahead while the offensive line surges forward A Sweep is a running play in American Football where the Running back takes a pitch or handoff from the Quarterback and starts running parallel to the American football, a bootleg play is a play in which the Quarterback runs with the ball in the direction of either Sideline behind the Line The option offense is a generic term that is used to describe a wide variety of offensive systems in American football. In American football, a counter run is a running play in which the Running back will take a step in the opposite direction of the play only to get the handoff in In American football, a "Power push" is a play used out of a variety of very offensive positions that consist of two backs ( fullback, Tailback The Zone Run is a running play based on zone blocking. Play description Zone running actually has many different variations an inside zone play or In American football, a trap play, or trap run, is a run consisting of a defender on the line of Scrimmage (either a defensive tackle or defensive end A flea-flicker is an unorthodox play (often called a Trick play) in American football designed to fool the Defensive team into thinking that a play is a Most of the time, when the ball is handed to the Running Backs, the Corner Backs (covering the receivers) think it as a running play and cease covering the receivers and return toward the line of scrimmage for run support. The Quarterback can then take advantage passing the ball to wide open receivers for long yardage. When successfully executed, this play often results in a touchdown.
This play is essentially the opposite of spiking the ball. Because the game clock does not stop after a player is tackled in bounds (except after a change of possession or an injury) a team's quarterback will sometimes kneel immediately after the ball is snapped to him in order to use up time on the clock. This reduces the risk of a fumble/turnover that could possibly occur by handing the ball off to the running back when trying to run time off clock. By using up time at the end of the game in this manner, a team can deny its opponent the opportunity to score, or can hasten the end of the half (halftime) or the end of the game when the score is tied, sending the game into overtime. In some team Sports such as Football (soccer and rugby, Matches are played in two halves Overtime is an additional period of play specified under the rules of a Sport in order to bring the game to a decision and avoid declaring the contest a tie or draw The process in college football is slightly different than in the NFL. In college, the quarterback takes 2 to 3 steps back before kneeling, whereas in the NFL, the quarterback kneels immediately. This play is sometimes referred to as "victory formation", as a team which has the lead and possession of the ball in the final seconds of a game will typically use this play.
There are several offensive strategies that have evolved over the years, especially after the NFL outlawed most downfield contact on receivers (that is, past the 5 yard "chuck" zone, where most contact is allowed). Thus, recent strategies attempt to utilize the passing game to open up the defense, as it is less predictable and carries the possibility for greater gain.
Defensive strategy is the placement and assignment of defensive players so as to check and frustrate the progress of the opponent's offense. Defensive strategy is more fluid and variable than offensive strategy. The most effective element of defensive strategy is to take possession of the ball from the offensive team, referred to as a turnover of possession. Defensive strategy involves, as much as possible, the prevention of the opposing offense's scoring. However, yards gained and time of possession must also be limited to be consistently successful. While doing so, the defensive players may also attempt to gain control of the football and score points themselves. General defenses can be deployed which can respond to a broad range of offensive plays, or highly specific defenses can be used, in the expectation of a very specific type of offensive play being executed (e. g. the prevent defense against a long pass. ) There are many different categories of commonly seen defensive strategies.
Players on the defensive side of the ball are generally split between down linemen (tackles, defensive ends and nose guards), linebackers, and defensive backs (safeties and cornerbacks). A formation in American football refers to the position players line up in before the start of a down. Lineman in American football. (See also American and Canadian football position names. Defensive tackle ( DT) is a position on the defensive line in American and Canadian football. Defensive end ( DE) is the name of a defensive position in the sport of American and Canadian football. Nose guard is a defensive position in American football. In five-lineman situations such as a goal-line formation the nose guard is the innermost lineman flanked on either This article relates to Sports. For the Vietnam War bombing raids see Operation Linebacker and Operation Linebacker II. In American football and Canadian football, defensive backs are the players on the defensive team who take positions somewhat back from the line of scrimmage they Safety ( S) is an American and Canadian football position played by a member of the defense. A cornerback ( CB) (also referred to as a corner) is a positional role played by a member of the defensive team in American and Canadian To describe the basic defensive alignment of linemen, linebackers and backs, the number of down linemen is usually followed by the number of linebackers. By far the most common alignments are four down linemen and three linebackers (4-3), but alignments with three down linemen and four linebackers (3-4) are currently used by a number of teams. The number of defensive backs is usually not mentioned.
However, on plays where the defense expects the offense to pass, emphasis is often placed on the number of defensive backs. When one of the "front seven" (down linemen and linebackers) is removed in favour of a defensive back, the five defensive backs are described as a "nickel" package. When a sixth defensive back is inserted, it is known as a "dime" package. In rare instances when a seventh defensive back is inserted, it is known as a "quarter" package.
Unusual defensive alignments are rare, but often successful. Two good examples of this were both masterminded by Bill Belichick. William Stephen Belichick (born April 16, 1952 in Nashville Tennessee) is the American football head coach for the New England Patriots In Super Bowl XXV, the New York Giants played with only two down linemen, with four linebackers and five defensive backs. Super Bowl XXV was an American football game played on January 27 1991 at Tampa Stadium in Tampa Florida to decide the National Football League The New York Giants are a professional American football team based in the New York City suburb of East Rutherford New Jersey. The strategy was very successful in preventing the Buffalo Bills from completing long passes, but it allowed over 190 yards in rushing. The Buffalo Bills are a professional American football team based in the Buffalo New York Metropolitan area, playing seven of their home games in the suburb In American football, rushing has two different meanings Offense Best Record-Breaking Performance ESPY Award --> Nevertheless, the Giants won. This particular gameplan was so unusual and viewed as so "genius" by football experts, that a copy of the Super Bowl XXV defensive gameplan written by Bill Belichick is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Super Bowl XXV was an American football game played on January 27 1991 at Tampa Stadium in Tampa Florida to decide the National Football League William Stephen Belichick (born April 16, 1952 in Nashville Tennessee) is the American football head coach for the New England Patriots The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the Hall of fame of the National Football League (NFL The other example is the New England Patriots using no down linemen and seven linebackers for two plays against the Miami Dolphins during a Monday Night game in 2004. The New England Patriots, commonly called the " Pats " by sports writers and fans are a professional American football team based in the Greater Boston The Miami Dolphins are a professional American football team based in the Miami Florida Metropolitan Area. This formation is sometimes called "Prowl" and at least one variation uses a single down lineman, sometimes called "1-5-5 Prowl".
Even in obvious running situations, the defense must be able to account for the eligible receivers on offense. There are two general schemes for defending against the pass:
In most cases, man-to-man coverage is more effective against short passes, while zone coverage is effective against long passes.
To create a shorthand, most defensive schemes use the term "cover" (for pass coverage) and a number to describe a combination of schemes. There are only six eligible pass receivers on a given play (the quarterback is an eligible receiver, but passes to the quarterback are rare) while there are at least seven pass defenders in 3-4 alignment in man-to-man defense, some of the pass coverage personnel may either blitz (cross the line of scrimmage with the down linemen in an attempt to sack the quarterback), provide double coverage on a receiver, or help other defensive players with the pass coverage. In American football and Canadian football, not all players on offense are entitled to receive a forward pass Quarterback ( QB) is a position in American and Canadian football. In American football or Canadian football, a blitz or red dog is a team defensive maneuver in which one or more Linebackers or Defensive (Double coverage is also a legal term for people with two health insurance plans In zone coverage, all defensive linebackers and backs have a pass coverage assignment.
Bracket — A double team scheme to prevent a certain receiver from catching the ball. There are two types of bracket coverage: high/low and in/out.
High/low coverage involves one defensive player staying between the line of scrimmage and the receiver, protecting against short passes, and another defender playing behind the receiver to protect from deep routes. In American and Canadian football a line of scrimmage is an imaginary transverse line crossing the football field across its narrower dimension beyond
Skilled personnel can beat this coverage, however, based on running a route that breaks to the inside. On an "in" route the receiver makes a near-90 degree turn to the inside of the field and uses his speed to get away from the underneath defender. A higher-difficulty option is the "post" or "skinny post" route, which involves a turn of 30-60 degrees to the inside. The receiver again uses his speed to separate from the defender playing underneath, and the quarterback must deliver the ball over this defender and far enough inside that the defender protecting against deep passes cannot come down/across the flight path of the ball and deflect or intercept it. Though the difficulty on this pass is much higher, its success will gain many more yards.
In/out coverage is a scheme where one defender protects against routes run to the inside and another protects against routes to the outside. The easiest way to beat this coverage is a simple "go"/streak route: the receiver simply sprints down the field past the defenders. Any hesitation on the defenders' part to drop their coverage assignment and run with the streaking receiver can be exploited.
Zone blitz — A play where a linebacker or defensive back blitzes and a lineman replaces him in pass coverage. In American football or Canadian football, a blitz or red dog is a team defensive maneuver in which one or more Linebackers or Defensive The creation and refinement of this scheme is most often credited to Dick LeBeau while defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Charles Richard "Dick" LeBeau (born September 9, 1937 in London Ohio) is a former football player and is currently the Pittsburgh The Cincinnati Bengals are a professional American football team based in Cincinnati, Ohio. 
Bump-and-Run is a style of man-to-man defense with a more physical style. As modern offenses get more and more complex, one of their most important aspects becomes timing. Bump-and-Run coverage style takes advantage of this, jamming the receivers at the line and throwing off their routes' timing with their Quarterback. Bump-and-Run schemes require physical Corners with quick acceleration and good instincts. The biggest disadvantage to the Bump-and-Run is the high propensity of its Corners to commit fouls. As a result of the physical play required by the Bump-and-Run, its Corners get flagged much more often than Corners in other systems for penalties such as Illegal Hands to the Face, Illegal Contact, and the like.
Effective defense depends on cooperation of defensive players and an understanding of what coverage they are in. For example, in Cover Two, the cornerbacks know that if they decide to jump a route (and thereby intercept or deflect a pass) they will have safety help further upfield should they be tricked by a fake. In Cover One, the safety must be aware that one of the cornerbacks could have difficulty covering a wide receiver, and must be available to move over to help the cornerback before the quarterback can throw. Typically Cover One is only used if there are more than two wide receivers or other passing threats.
Moreover, mixing up defensive alignments and not being predictable are important since if an offense recognizes an alignment or coverage scheme, or a tendency to use such a scheme, they can often take advantage of it. For example, if the defense is blitzing, and the quarterback foresees it (for example, one of the blitzing players moves towards the line of scrimmage before the snap) the quarterback knows he faces man-to-man coverage and will look for his fastest receiver to get open, or throw to the spot vacated by the blitzing player.
In the modern game, with players getting faster and stronger, defensive coordinators often look to a player's special skills in order to surprise the offense. A defensive coordinator typically refers to a coach on an American football team who is in charge of the defense. For example, in some defensive schemes, defensive down linemen are given pass coverage responsibility. Since Lawrence Taylor's arrival, teams often now rush three down linemen and a single linebacker (often a different one on every play), a strategy that was almost unknown before he started to play. Lawrence Julius Taylor (born February 4 1959 nicknamed LT, is a retired Hall of Fame American football player Moreover, even defensive backs are being given more responsibility on running plays. For example, on plays where a running back runs wide, it is the responsibility of the cornerback to ensure that the running back does not get directly to the sideline, and that the back is forced to run in front of the cornerback where there is more likely to be help from linebackers. A running back ( RB) is the position of a player on an American or Canadian football team who usually lines up in the offensive backfield. The "sidelines" is a term commonly used to define the white or colored lines which mark the outer boundaries of a sports field
Modern offenses have adapted to these strategies, and often require different skills from players, particularly running backs who, in addition to carrying the ball, are expected to run deep pass routes against linebacker coverage, and to be available to block blitzing players on pass plays.
The 3-4 defense declined in popularity over the years, but has found renewed use by modern professional and college football teams. The 3-4 defense is so named because it involves 3 down linemen and 4 linebackers. There are usually 4 defensive backs. However, most teams since the 1990s have been using the 4-3 defense, primarily because football is fundamentally a "rush first" game, and the 4-3 defense's 4 down linemen make rushing more difficult by adding that one more man up front to stuff gaps. By the same token, fast linebackers, sitting back to survey the offensive set, can key in on an inside ball carrier and "hit the gaps" quickly to offer help to the 3 down linemen when defending the rush. In pass coverage, the 4 linebackers are already in a "sitting back" position, able to see the patterns develop and cover the short/intermediate pass.
Notable teams that use the 3-4 defense are the Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, New England Patriots, and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cleveland Browns are a professional American football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. The San Diego Chargers are a professional American football team based in San Diego California. The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football team in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference (NFC in the National The New York Jets are a professional American football team based in the New York metropolitan area. The New England Patriots employ a variety of strategies during play The San Francisco 49ers are believed to be in the final stages of a conversion to the 3-4 defense under Head Coach Mike Nolan, now entering his third year with the team. The San Francisco 49ers are a professional American football team Mike Nolan (born March 7, 1959 in Baltimore Maryland) United States is the head coach for the National Football League 's San The Arizona Cardinals are also considering a change to the 3-4 defense in the future because their head coach, Ken Whisenhunt, was a coaching assistant for the Steelers. The Arizona Cardinals are a professional American football team based in Glendale Arizona, just outside of Phoenix. Kenneth "Ken" Moore Whisenhunt (born February 28, 1962 in Augusta Georgia) is the American football Head coach of The Cardinals already incorporate the 5-2 defense, an older variation of the 3-4, in some of their defensive schemes. The Miami Dolphins have also incorporated elements of the 3-4 defense into their scheme, under defensive coordinator Dom Capers, the Dolphins are said to run what is called a 'Hybrid 3-4' which incorporates elements of both the 3-4 and the 4-3 defense depending on the situation and personnel on the field.
With the Cowboys using the 3-4 for the first time in their history in 2005, the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins are the only NFL teams which have never used the 3-4 as their base defense. The 2005 season of the National Football League (NFL was the 86th season played by the major professional American football league in the United States The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. The Washington Redskins are a professional American football team based in the Washington D Conversely, the Steelers have used the 3-4 as their base since 1982, the season after Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive tackle Mean Joe Greene and end L.C. Greenwood retired. The 1982 NFL season was the 63rd Regular season of the National Football League. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the Hall of fame of the National Football League (NFL Charles Edward Greene, known as "Mean Joe" Greene, (born September 24, 1946) is a former all-pro American football Defensive tackle LC Henderson Greenwood (born September 8, 1946 in Canton Mississippi) is a former American football Defensive end for the 1970s Ironically, the Steelers may soon be transitioning back to the 4-3 defense in the near future, as new head coach Mike Tomlin prefers the Cover 2 (or "Tampa 2") style defense. Mike Tomlin (born March 15, 1972) is an American football Head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League The changes won't be immediate, though, as the Steelers did retain defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, a mastermind of zone blitz schemes under the 3-4. Charles Richard "Dick" LeBeau (born September 9, 1937 in London Ohio) is a former football player and is currently the Pittsburgh The Zone Blitz is a common method of defensive pressure applied in American football, usually at the collegiate and professional levels
The 72 Miami Dolphins were the first team to win a Super Bowl with the 3-4 defense, going undefeated and using number 53, Bob Mathison as a down lineman or rushing linebacker. When the Raiders defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV, it marked the first Super Bowl in which both teams used the 3-4 as their base defense. The Philadelphia Eagles are a professional American football team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Super Bowl XV was an American football game played on January 25, 1981 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans Louisiana to At least one team which used the 3-4 played in every Super Bowl between 1980 and 1993. The 1980 NFL season was the 61st Regular season of the National Football League. The 1993 NFL season was the 74th Regular season of the National Football League.
The defensive line is made up of a nose tackle (NT) and two defensive ends (DEs). Linemen in 3-4 schemes tend to be larger than their 4-3 counterparts to take up more space and guard more territory along the defensive front.
The base position of NT is across from the opposing team's center. This location is usually referred to as zero technique. The two DEs flank NT and line up across from the offensive tackles. The location across from the offensive tackle is usually referred to as five technique.
Some 3-4 teams (such as the New England Patriots) use the three down linemen primarily to occupy the offensive linemen. The New England Patriots employ a variety of strategies during play In such systems the defensive linemen are assigned two gaps to defend. NT is responsible for defending plays which occur in the spaces, or gaps, between the center and guards. Each of those spaces is called an A gap. Flanking NT, DEs defend the gaps on either side of the tackle he lines up across from. Each guard-tackle gap is a B gap and the space outside each tackle is called a C gap.
Other 3-4 teams (such as the San Diego Chargers, and the Dallas Cowboys) primarily make each lineman responsible for only one gap. The San Diego Chargers are a professional American football team based in San Diego California.
In a 3-4 defense, four linebackers (LBs) are positioned behind the defensive line. The linebacker unit is made up of two inside linebackers (ILBs) - more commonly known as middle linebackers (MLBs) - flanked by two outside linebackers (OLBs). The OLBs often line up closer to the line of scrimmage than the MLBs, but may also be positioned at the same depth or deeper in coverage than the MLBs (though this is somewhat rare).
Strengths of the 3-4 include speedy MLBs and OLBs in pursuit of backs in run defense and flexibility to use multiple rushers to confuse the quarterback during passing plays without being forced into man-to-man defense on receivers. Most teams try to disrupt the offense's passing attack by rushing four defenders. In a standard 4-3 alignment, these four rushers are usually the four down linemen. But in a 3-4, the fourth rusher is usually a linebacker, though many teams, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, use a talented safety to blitz and confuse the coverage, giving them that many more defensive options in the same 3-4 look. However, since there are four linebackers and four defensive backs, the fourth potential rusher can come from any of eight defensive positions. This is designed to confuse the quarterback's pre-snap defensive read.
A drawback of the 3-4 is that without a fourth lineman to take on the offensive blockers and close the running lanes, both the defensive linemen and the linebackers can be overwhelmed by blocking schemes in the running game. To be effective, 3-4 linebackers need their defensive line to routinely tie up a minimum of four (preferably all five) offensive linemen, freeing them to make tackles. The 3-4 linebackers must be very athletic and strong enough to shed blocks by fullbacks, tight ends, and offensive linemen to get to the running back.
The 3-4 defense generally uses four defensive backs. Two of these are safeties, and two of them are cornerbacks. A cornerback's responsibilities vary depending on the type of coverage called. Coverage is simply how the defense will be protecting against the pass. The corners will generally line up 3 to 5 yards off the line of scrimmage, generally trying to "Jam" or interrupt the receivers route within the first 5 yards. A corner will be given one of two ways to defend the pass (with variations that result in more or less the same responsibilities): zone and man-to-man. In zone coverage, the cornerback is responsible for an area on the field. In this case, the corner must always stay downfield of whoever it is covering while still remaining in its zone, always between the sideline and the opposing player. Zone is a more relaxed defensive scheme meant to provide more awareness across the defensive secondary while sacrificing tight coverage. As such, the corner in this case would be responsible for making sure nobody gets outside of him, always, or downfield of him, in cases where there is no deep safety help. In man coverage, however, the cornerback is solely responsible for the man across from him, usually the offensive player split farthest out.
The free safety is responsible for reading the offensive plays and covering deep passes. Depending on the defensive call, he may also provide run support. He is positioned 10 to 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage, toward the center of the field. He provides the last line of defense against running backs and receivers who get past the linebackers and cornerbacks. He must be a quick and smart player, capable of making tackles efficiently as well as reading the play and alerting his team of game situations.
The strong safety is usually larger than the free safety and is positioned relatively close to the line of scrimmage. He is often an integral part of the run defense, but is also responsible for defending against a pass; especially against passes to the tight-ends.
The 4-3 defense is probably the most commonly used defense in modern American Football and especially in the NFL. Its invention is often attributed to legendary coach Tom Landry, in the 1950s, while serving as the Defensive Coordinator of the New York Giants. Thomas Wade Landry ( September 11, 1924 – February 12, 2000) was an American football player and coach A defensive coordinator typically refers to a coach on an American football team who is in charge of the defense. The New York Giants are a professional American football team based in the New York City suburb of East Rutherford New Jersey.  It was devised as a way to stop Hall of Fame RB Jim Brown. This is backed by Giants Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff:
Others attribute it to Chicago Bears Hall of Fame linebacker, Bill George. "On passing plays, George’s job was to bump the center and then drop back. George, noting the Eagles success at completing short passes just over his head, decided to skip the center bump and drop back immediately. Two plays later he caught the first of his 18 pro interceptions. While no one can swear which middle guard in a five-man line first dropped back to play middle linebacker and create the classic 4-3 defense, George is the most popular choice," from http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.jsp?player_id=73, March 20, 2007.
The 4-3 defense is so named because it involves four down linemen and three linebackers along with four defensive backs.
The 4-3 is widely used because of its balance in stopping both runs and passes, as well as its personnel-friendliness, since smaller players can be used effectively along the defensive line.
The original version of the 4-3 lined up the tackles over the offensive guards and the end over the offensive tackles, with the middle linebacker over the center and the other linebackers outside the ends. In the mid-1960s Hank Stram developed a popular variation, the "Kansas City Stack", which shifted the strong side defensive end over the tight end, stacked the strongside linebacker over the tackle, and shifted the weakside tackle over center. Henry Louis Stram ( January 3, 1923 – July 4, 2005) was an American Football coach. At about the same time the Cleveland Browns frequently used a weakside shift. The Cleveland Browns are a professional American football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. The Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry developed a "flex" variation, that moved standout lineman Randy White all over and set two of the lineman a half-step farther back from the offensive linemen. The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football team in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference (NFC in the National Thomas Wade Landry ( September 11, 1924 – February 12, 2000) was an American football player and coach Randy Lee White (born January 15, 1953 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania) was an American football player Now every team has its own variations.
There are two defensive tackles in the 4-3 scheme. The first defensive tackle is called the nose guard. The nose guard is generally a little bigger and stronger and plays a one technique which means he lines up on either outside shoulder of the center depending on which way the strength of the play is going. The nose guard's primary job is to stop the run and take on the double team (which is getting blocked by two offensive linemen) thus freeing up the linebackers to make a play. The second defensive tackle (simply referred to as the defensive tackle or three tech) is generally a bit quicker and faster than the nose guard. He plays a three technique meaning he lines up on the outside shoulder of the strong side offensive guard. The job of a three tech is to: prevent the run, keep the guard off linebackers, and rush the quarterback on pass plays.
The defensive end's primary role in the 4-3 defense is to get to the quarterback and create pressure. The 4-3 DE's are the smallest of all of the defensive lineman due to their emphasis of speed over strength. They still need to be strong enough to fight their way past offensive tackles, yet quick enough to pursue the Running backs on runs to the outside. Defensive ends generally play the 1 gap technique, though will occasionally be forced to play a 2 gap in the event of a TE pinching in to block on run plays.
There is only one inside linebacker in the 4-3 scheme, so he is called the Middle linebacker, sometimes known as the Mike linebacker. He acts as the quarterback of the defense and is often the defensive leader. The primary responsibility of the Mike is to stop the run, though he will often be asked to fall back in zone coverage. Because of this the Mike is often the largest and strongest of all of the Linebackers. The 4-3 Defense relies on having a sure tackler at the Mike spot, and the Mike LB is usually by far the leading tackler.
As in the 3-4 there are two outside linebackers in the 4-3. These outside backers are known as the Strong-Side and Weak-Side Linebackers. The Strong-Side, or Sam linebacker, is so named because he typically sticks to the strong side of the defense, across from the TE. The Sam does his fair share of blitzing, however he also needs to play the run and will usually be relied upon to cover the tight end or potentially a back out of the backfield. The Weak-Side, or Willie T. Straddlebear, will generally play on the weak side and has more freedom than the other LBs, often blitzing the QB or guarding against the screen.
The role of the secondary in the 4-3 is essentially identical to its role in the 3-4. See #secondary for details.
The 4-4 defense is based around speed, athleticism and intelligence rather than relying too heavily on size and strength as many other defenses do. Versatility is a key as every player can have a variety of roles from one play to the next. It is an attacking defense stocked with multiple blitz packages that can be easily concealed and altered. The top priority of the 4-4 defense is stopping the run and with 8 men in the box (around the line of scrimmage) on every snap, it puts a defense in a very good position to do just that. In addition, with 8 men in the box, it is difficult for the offense to pin point exactly where the pressure will be coming from when the defense blitzes. One final significant advantage of the 4-4 defense is that it can easily adjust to the offense. The 4-4 can shift into a nickel or dime coverage simply and effectively.
The major drawback to the 4-4 defense is the potential to give up the big play, both through the air and on the ground. Shifty scat backs with breakaway speed are most successful against the 4-4. If they can cut their way through the layer of linebackers, they will likely only have 1, maybe 2 men to beat in the secondary and depending on their coverage assignments; they may not even be in position to make a tackle anyway. The other way the defense is exposed is on the deep pass. The cornerbacks are often left on an island (without help from the Safeties), either in man coverage or playing in a 3 deep zone. If a speedy receiver gets past his defender, there likely is nothing between him and the end zone. The hope, however, is that even if a receiver opens up deep, the quarterback won’t have time to deliver the ball because of the pressure.
As the head coach of the Florida Gators, Steve Spurrier used the 4-4 defense throughout most of his early tenure, using a rover who could either play linebacker or safety. The Florida Gators are the athletic teams that collectively represent the University of Florida in Gainesville Florida. Stephen Orr Spurrier (born April 20, 1945 in Miami Beach Florida) is a former American football player and currently the head coach Florida scrapped the 4-4 with the arrival of defensive coordinator Bob Stoops in 1996, who installed a traditional 4-3 defense. Robert Anthony Stoops (born September 9, 1960 in Youngstown, Ohio) is the Head coach of the University of Oklahoma
While size is definitely a plus for defensive tackles in the 4-4, its not as important as quickness and the ability to use leverage to manipulate the offensive linemen. It's imperative for the defensive tackles to hold their ground. They cannot allow themselves to get turned around and under no circumstances can they allow themselves to be base blocked, one on one. Again, size is great and certainly helps, but a smaller tackle can be just as effective if he is a good technician. In the base 4-4, the defensive tackles will generally line up in the B gap in a 3 technique (outside eye of the guard). Depending on the read, the defensive tackle will either be asked to penetrate the line of scrimmage, or hold his ground and attempt to take on both the guard and offensive tackle.
The defensive end's primary role in the 4-4 defense is to get to the quarterback as fast as possible. They need to be strong enough to fight their way past offensive tackles; but they also need to be athletic enough to act as linebackers because there are plenty of scenarios in the 4-4 defense that require the defensive ends to drop into coverage, just as an outside linebacker would do. The ends should do whatever they can to get to the quarterback and on running plays they should pursue down the line of scrimmage, but be careful not to over-commit as they need to be ready for a potential cutback.
There are two inside linebackers in the 4-4 scheme known as the Mike and Buck linebackers. While they both play inside, Buck will shade to the strong side of the offense, Mike shades to the weak side. It is important for these inside backers to be aggressive and have a nose for the ball. As in most defenses, the Mike backer acts as the quarterback of the defense and is often the defensive leader. The primary responsibility of both Mike and Buck is to stop the run. The Buck backer will generally be more active in pass coverage than the Mike. Because of this, the Buck backer needs to be athletic enough to drop and almost play like a strong safety. Safety ( S) is an American and Canadian football position played by a member of the defense.
As there are two inside linebackers, there are also two outside linebackers. These outside backers are known as Sam and Rover. The Sam linebacker typically sticks to the strong side. Sam does his fair share of blitzing, however he also needs to play the run and will usually be relied upon to cover the tight end or potentially a back out of the backfield. Rover will generally play on the weak side, however he can be moved to just about anywhere to better suit the defensive call or adjustment. The rover is probably the single most versatile position in the 4-4 defense. Depending on the call and the personnel in place, the Rover’s job could be purely to get after the quarterback or to drop into coverage. In a blitzing situation, the Rover is the most likely player to get to the quarterback. The Rover position can be played by a variety of athletic types ranging from an outside linebacker, to a strong safety. The "Rover" linebacker is sometimes also known as the "Willie" position (Sam comes from strong side linebacker, and thus Willie signifies the weak side backer).
The cornerbacks are often on islands in man coverage or in a deep zone, and they need to possess exceptional speed and change of direction skills. They also need to be intelligent when diagnosing the play and when in zone coverage, must be able to play the ball. The corners will generally line up 3 to 5 yards off the ball, but will rarely jam because of the risk of a big play. If the corner jams and the receiver is able to get past him, it has a high probability of ending up a big play for the offense. Of course it helps to have corners that can assist in run support, however, their primary responsibility is to shut down any receiving threat they are assigned to. The safety in the 4-4 defense should be one of the team’s better athletes. He needs to be fast enough to play in coverage and strong enough to help against the run. He needs to have a nose for the ball and be able to diagnose the play to put himself in a position to make a play. The safety will almost always be assigned to the deep middle of the field, however he can also be blitzed in various packages.
A 5-2 defense is a defense with 5 defensive linemen and 2 linebackers. The defensive linemen almost always line up to the strong side, with the backside lineman on the outside shoulder of the end man on the offensive LOS.
Because the extra defensive lineman makes this a strong defense against the run, it is more popular in leagues (or specific situations) that favor the running game. Thus, this defense is most often used in middle school and little league, and occasionally in different looks and variations in the NFL or college. The 5-2 used to be more popular in college football, when the running game was much more prevalent; for example, teams in the 1980s would often employ the 5-2 to combat the extremely run-oriented offenses of the time. From the mid-1950s until the early 1990s, the 5-2 was the base formation for most teams in the Big Eight Conference, due to the powerful rushing attacks of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Oklahoma Sooners, and later in the 1980s, the Colorado Buffaloes. The Big Eight Conference, a former NCAA -affiliated Division I-A college athletic association that sponsored American football, was formed in January 1907 as the The Nebraska Cornhuskers (often abbreviated to Huskers) is the name given to several sports teams of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The University of Oklahoma features 17 varsity sports teams Both men's and women's teams are called the Sooners, a nickname given to individuals who participated in the The University of Colorado at Boulder sponsors 16 varsity sports teams Currently, the Arizona Cardinals use this defense regularly, in addition to their base 4-3.
The benefit of having a 5-2 is that it adds size to your defense by replacing a linebacker with a defensive lineman. This helps in short-yardage situations where you want to stall the line of scrimmage and not give up the inside run. The disadvantage is in pass coverage -- most 5-2 teams will rush all 5 defensive linemen leaving only 6 pass defenders. In some circumstances a 5-2 team will drop one of the linemen, typically an end, off into coverage. But this is primarily a situational defense, and not often used in situations where downfield pass coverage is a significant concern.
The 3-3-5 alignment, sometimes known as the "Mustang" or "30-Stack," typically relies on 3 down linemen, 3 linebackers, and 5 defensive backs: 1 free safety, 2 cornerbacks playing off the line, and 2 roving safeties that move around. The safeties take on 2nd receivers or tight ends and have to be able to come up and make tackles, usually outside the box. Generally, when running a 3-3-5 the user is trying to confuse the offense by "exchanging" different pressures in the A, B, and C gaps using the lineman, linebackers, rovers, and free safety while playing mostly zone or sometimes man coverage behind. Teams that run the 3-3-5 generally use it because they are a fast but sometimes smaller unit who wants to cause assignment issues for the opposing offense. Also, a 3-3-5 can be adjusted based on formation to a 4-3, 3-4, 4-4, Goal Line, etc. with the same starting players making it in theory a perfect counterpunch to whatever the offense is trying to do.
To effectively play the 3-3-5 the "Front 8," especially the lineman and linebackers must be physical, stout, and tough. The lineman must be able to control their assigned gaps, get an effective pass rush, and take out double teams to free up the linebackers to make plays. The 2 outside or "Stud" linebackers must be effective at pressuring, reading and reacting to the play, and play at a low pad level as they will be taking on lineman and fullbacks while the "Mike" must be intelligent in lining up the defense in a counter to the offense's formation as well as flowing to the ball and being able to shed blockers and make plays. The rovers or "Drillers" must be capable of pressuring, dropping back in coverage, being physical, taking on lineman, keeping contain, and coming up and making plays. The cornerbacks must be good in coverage and be physical tacklers. And finally, the free safety is the most versatile athlete on the field as on any given play he can drop in coverage, pressure the quarterback or play one of the "Mike" backers in the 3-4. In addition to this the free must be a physical tackler and hitter and generally your best playmaker and smartest athlete. We currently see this defense been primarily been used by the West Virginia Mountaineers. Implementing the the front three as end, tackle, and nose. While the linebackers are referred to as Mike (Middle), Sam (Strong), and Will (Weak). While the secondary commonly consists of the Spur, Bandit, Free, Boundry, and Cover.
Is a variation of the 46 defense and the 3-3-5, often called "Bear Down". Takes away plays from the out side in. A line backer and a safety come down on the outside sides. the tackles line up in the C gap, they both read the last man on their side of the line of scrimmage. Depending on that offensive players move (inside or outside) determines the defensive players role, if the outside man is getting kicked out he has outside containment and the DE comes down the line. If the outside man is let free then he comes down the line and the DE fights to get outside containment. It makes for two down the line of scrimmage players two outside contain guys and three inside players. Bear is also man coverage.
The nickel defense was popularized by the Miami Dolphins (Head Coach Don Shula and Defensive Coordinator Bill Arnsparger) in the 1970s and is now commonly employed in obvious passing situations or against a team that frequently uses four wide receiver sets on offense. Donald Francis Shula (born January 4, 1930 in Grand River, Ohio) is an American former professional football coach Bill Arnsparger (born December 16, 1926) is a former football coach who was primarily an assistant but served as head coach at both the professional The defense has 5 defensive backs, and usually has 4 down linemen and 2 linebackers. A lineup of 3 down linemen and 3 linebackers is sometimes used, but this is often called a "3-3-5" defense instead of a "nickel" defense. The 4-2 version of the nickel is more popular because it usually sacrifices less run-stopping ability.
Some teams favor the pass more than the run. If a team has a good quarterback and three very good wide receivers, it would be foolish for them to leave a receiver on the bench just because "normal" football alignments include a fullback. Such a team will frequently take their fullback off the field and substitute a third wide receiver, called a slot receiver. This is especially likely if the situation on the field calls for a pass, such as a third and long situation.
When a fast wide receiver is put in place for a fullback, this creates a mismatch for the defense. You might expect that the weak side linebacker would cover the third wide receiver, but there is little chance he can successfully do this. A typical linebacker in the NFL weighs around 245 pounds and is trained to deliver big hits whereas the slot receiver is most likely a 185-pound guy who is substantially quicker. The receiver should be able to easily run right by the linebacker and catch an open pass for the first down, so the defense will most likely remove the weak side linebacker from the field and substitute a third cornerback.
The defense now has three cornerbacks and two safeties on the field, for a total of five defensive backs. Since there are five backs, this is called a nickel package. If the defense is against a high percentage passing offense, it is likely that they will start out the game in their nickel package and rarely play their base defense.
The dime defense is usually employed in obvious passing situations. The formation usually consists of 6 defensive backs, and has either 4 down linemen and 1 linebacker, or 3 down linemen and 2 linebackers. It is very vulnerable to running plays, and the 4-1 version is especially vulnerable to draws, but usually the dime is only employed when an offense can scarcely afford to run even for a good gain, either because of the great distance needed to get a first down, or because of a lack of time, or both. The Arizona Cardinals are one team that use the 3-2-6 Dime package extensively.
A dime defense differs from the nickel in that it adds yet another defensive back to the secondary. The sixth defensive back is called a "dime back" (DB). The defense gets its name because a dime is worth two nickels in American currency. The dime is a coin worth Ten cents, or one tenth of a United States dollar. The United States five- cent Coin, commonly called a nickel, is a unit of Currency equaling one-twentieth or five hundredths of a
There are several running backs in the NFL who are just as accomplished catching the ball as they are running with the ball. In obvious passing situations, many teams will put their running back into motion or split him out as a fourth wide receiver, or in a few cases if the team has four quality wide receivers they might even remove their running back from the game and substitute a fourth wide receiver. In any case, this is another case where a fast guy, either a wide receiver or running back, is being covered by a linebacker. This is again an obvious mismatch, and the defense is in trouble. So the defense will respond by pulling another linebacker off the field and substituting a fourth cornerback. There are now six defensive backs on the field. Just as five defensive backs is called the nickel package, six defensive backs is called a dime package.
Prevent defenses are geared almost exclusively towards stopping an extremely long pass. They are frequently used in obvious passing situations, such as a third-and-very-long situation, or to prevent a long score on the last play of a half, or when the defense believes that the offense must pass (for example, if the offense is trailing late in a game). Otherwise the prevent is almost never used. The defense trades size for speed, and tries to ensure that no receiver can get behind the defense. A prevent defense backs up the coverage so far that it will often give up long yardage, but it makes scoring a touchdown in a single play very difficult.
The quarter defense has 3 down linemen, 1 linebacker, and 7 defensive backs. The quarter defense gets its name as the next coin after nickel and dime in the sequence of defenses.
Half dollar defenses, with 8 defensive backs, are very rare and are often used to prevent a Hail Mary pass. A Hail Mary pass or Hail Mary play in American football is a Forward pass made in desperation with only a small chance of success Professional teams may not have enough defensive backs on the roster to play the quarter or half dollar, so wide receivers are sometimes used to fill the extra positions, particularly in late game situations where the receiver's offensive skills can be put to good defensive use.
Quarter or quarters can also be used to describe a type of zone pass coverage, in which 4 defensive backs divide the field into vertical quarters for zone coverage. This coverage may be combined with a 4-3 or 3-4, and is used to take away deep routes but maintain a good pass rush and run coverage.
The prevent defense is rarely used on consecutive downs, or with a significant amount of time remaining, since a team with time to move downfield would easily be able to gain plenty of intermediate yardage. John Madden, a coaching and broadcasting legend, once said, All a prevent defense does is prevent you from winning. John Earl Madden (born April 10, 1936) is a former National Football League player a former head coach with the Oakland Raiders, a football
In the fourth quarter when there is only a few minutes left in the game and one team is winning by 17 or more points, it's common in the NFL for that team to go into a "prevent" defense. In a prevent defense the idea is to make the other team use up a lot of time. The clock is stopped when the player with the ball steps out of bounds, so the first goal of the defense is to keep everyone in bounds. The only danger to the defense is giving up a big play, for example a 25 yard or longer pass or run. It doesn't matter to the defense if the other team makes a lot of plays, and gains four to 8 yards per play, as long as the clock keeps running and time keeps ticking down.
In this case the defense will pull back into what is called a soft zone. They will most likely play in a nickel, dime, or quarter package. A soft zone means that all the safeties and cornerbacks are playing back, five or ten yards off the line. The free safety will often play as much as 20 yards back. There will be no jamming of receivers on the line. The zone means that each defensive back is responsible for an area of the field, so they're all watching the quarterback's eyes instead of running stride for stride with a receiver. It is very easy for the offense to make short plays against this defense, gaining four to eight yards per play, but it's almost impossible for the offense to make a big play of 20 or more yards against this sort of defense.
The bend-but-not-break nature of the prevent defense tends to give the offensive team many easy gains but no big play, so the prevent defense can make the end of the game uninteresting for fans. Some coaches avoid using the prevent defense, choosing instead to continue playing the same defensive schemes that ostensibly gave them the lead to that point. In Super Bowl XXXII, Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan famously instructed his defensive coordinators to keep playing the same defense as the Green Bay Packers attempted to drive downfield in the final two minutes of the game. Super Bowl XXXII was an American football game played on January 25 1998 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego California to decide the National Michael Edward Shanahan (born August 24, 1952) is an American football Head coach for the Denver Broncos in the National The Denver defense managed to stop the Packers' drive, which led to the Broncos' 31-24 victory. On the other hand, if a team has a large lead late in the game a prevent defense is almost certain to give victory.
The area occupied by defensive linemen and linebackers is often referred to as "the box. " The box is usually about 3-5 yards in depth and spans the offensive line in width. Normally seven players occupy this area but frequently another player is brought into the box for run support against smashmouth-oriented offensive teams or short yardage situations. The most common occurrence of eight in the box in the NFL involves the strong safety walking down from his position 10-15 yards off the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped. From this tightened position he can offer the aforementioned run support as well as jam WRs and TEs, blitz the QB, or provide flat coverage. Due to the superior athleticism of NFL players, it is not uncommon for the box safety to even provide deep coverage after the snap, giving the QB a pre-snap Cover 1 read but effectively transitioning into Cover 2 or another shell post snap.
A variation of "8 in the box" in the NFL is called the 46 or "Bear" defense. The 46 defense (also known as the "46" or the 46) is an American football defensive formation popularized by Chicago Bears It is designed to put pressure on the QB by lining up the defense with 3 defensive linemen covering the center & guards, and the 4th defensive linemen lined up either "wide" outside the TE or wide off the weak-side Tackle. The linebackers & strong safety are lined up behind the defensive line to put pressure on the QB as well.
The name "46" originally came from the jersey number of Doug Plank, who was a starting safety for the Chicago Bears when Bears' defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan originally developed the defense, and typically played in that formation as a surrogate linebacker. The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. Buddy Ryan (born James David Ryan on February 17, 1934) is a former American football coach It also refers to the idea that the cornerbacks often play bump and run coverage and blitz, acting almost like two extra linebackers.
The key feature of the "46" is that both outside linebackers play on the same side of the formation. The linebackers line up behind the linemen two or three yards from the line of scrimmage. The primary tactic is to rush five to eight players on each play, either to get to the quarterback quickly or disrupt running plays.
The formation was very effective in the 1980s NFL because it often eliminated a team's running game and forced them to throw the ball. This was difficult for many teams at the time because most offensive passing games centered around the play action pass. Many modern day NFL teams use the 46 as a package in addition to a base defense. The Baltimore Ravens in particular are known for using the 46 and variations to great effect, as the defensive coordinator Rex Ryan is Buddy Ryan's son. Rex Ryan (born December 13, 1962 in Ardmore Oklahoma) is an American football coach the current Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Rex's twin brother, Rob Ryan, is a defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders. Rob Ryan (born December 13, 1962 in Ardmore Oklahoma) is the Defensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders.
However the 46 defense is susceptible to the pass, especially quick and timed ones, such as those in the West coast offense. In American football, " West Coast Offense " ("WCO" is one of two similar but distinct offensive-strategic-systems of play (A the "Air Coryell" The Bears' only loss in their Super Bowl-winning 1985 season occurred against the heavily pass-oriented offense of the Miami Dolphins and quarterback Dan Marino, who was known for his quick-release on passes. The Miami Dolphins are a professional American football team based in the Miami Florida Metropolitan Area. Daniel Constantine Marino Jr (born September 15, 1961 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania) is a Polish - Italian American Hall of
In the following, "cover" refers to the "shell" that the defense rolls into after the snap of the ball, more specifically the number of defenders guarding the deep portion of the field.
Cover 1 schemes employ only one deep defender, usually a safety. Many underneath coverages paired with Cover 1 shells are strictly man-to-man with LBs and defensive backs each assigned a different offensive player to cover. By using only one deep defender in Cover 1, the other deep defender is free to blitz the quarterback or provide man-to-man pass coverage help.
Cover 1 schemes are usually very aggressive, preferring to proactively disrupt the offense by giving the quarterback little time to make a decision while collapsing the pocket quickly. This is the main advantage of Cover 1 schemes--the ability to blitz from various pre-snap formations while engaging in complex man-to-man coverage schemes post-snap. For example, a safety may blitz while a CB is locked in man coverage with a WR. Or the CB may blitz with the safety rotating into man coverage on the WR post-snap.
The main weakness of Cover 1 schemes is the lone deep defender that must cover a large amount of field and provide help on any deep threats. Offenses can attack Cover 1 schemes with a vertical stretch by sending two receivers on deep routes, provided that the quarterback has enough time for his receivers to get open. The deep defender must decide which receiver to help out on, leaving the other in man coverage which may be a mismatch.
A secondary weakness is inherent in its design: the use of man coverage opens up yards after catch lanes. Man coverage is attacked by offenses in various ways that try to isolate their best athletes on defenders by passing them the ball quickly before the defender can react or designing plays that clear defenders from certain areas thus opening yards after catch lanes.
In traditional Cover 2 schemes the free safety (FS) and strong safety (SS) have deep responsibilities, each guarding half of the field. Safety ( S) is an American and Canadian football position played by a member of the defense. Safety ( S) is an American and Canadian football position played by a member of the defense. The NFL's Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, and Detroit Lions run a variant of this defense called the Tampa 2. The Kansas City Chiefs are a professional American football team based in Kansas City Missouri. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (often shortened as the Bucs) are a professional American football team based in Tampa Florida. The Buffalo Bills are a professional American football team based in the Buffalo New York Metropolitan area, playing seven of their home games in the suburb The Indianapolis Colts are a professional American football team based in Indianapolis Indiana. The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. The Detroit Lions are an American football team based in Detroit Michigan. The Tampa 2 is an American football defensive strategy popularized by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers National Football League (NFL team in the mid 1990s-early
Cover 2 can be run from any seven-man defensive fronts such as the 3-4 and the 4-3. (It is difficult to implement Cover 2 from an eight-in-the-box front, because the strong safety or someone replacing him is usually the eighth man. ) Various "underneath" coverage played by cornerbacks and linebackers may also be implemented. For example, Cover 2 Man means 2 safeties have deep responsibility while the cornerbacks and linebackers follow their offensive assignment in one-on-one coverage. The NFL's San Diego Chargers inherited a base Cover 2 Man 3-4 from Wade Phillips. The San Diego Chargers are a professional American football team based in San Diego California. Wade Phillips (born June 21, 1947 in Orange, Texas) is the current Head coach for the National Football League 's Cover 2 can also be paired with underneath zone schemes: Cover 2 Zone refers to 2 safeties with deep responsibility but now the CBs and LBs drop back into specific coverage zones where they defend passes only in their assigned area.
Teams that play Cover 2 shells usually subscribe to the "bend-but-don't-break" philosophy, preferring to keep offensive players in front of them for short gains while limiting long passes. This is in stark contrast to a more aggressive Cover 1 type scheme which leaves the offensive team's wide receivers in single man-to-man coverage with only one deep helper. By splitting the deep field between two defenders, the defense can drastically reduce the number of long gains.
The main weakness of the Cover 2 shell occurs in the middle of the field between the safeties. The safeties attempt to gain width upon the snap of the ball to cover any long passes to quick wide receivers down the sideline. This movement creates a natural hole between the safeties that can be attacked. By sending a receiver (usually a tight end) into the hole, the offense forces the safety to make a decision: play the vulnerable hole in the middle of the field or help out on the wide receiver. The quarterback reads the safety's decision and decides on the best matchup (i. e. which mismatch is better: TE vs S or WR vs CB).
Cover 3 refers to 3 deep defenders each guarding one-third of the deep zone. Cover 3 schemes are usually used to defend against passes, mainly those towards the deep middle of the field. Unlike Cover 2 schemes that create a natural hole between safeties, Cover 3's extra deep defender is able to patrol the middle area effectively.
The most basic Cover 3 scheme involves 2 CBs and a safety. Upon snap, the CBs work for depth, backpedaling into their assigned zone. One safety moves toward the center of the field. The other safety is free to rotate into the flat area (about 2-4 yards beyond the line of scrimmage), provide pass coverage help, or blitz.
One of the biggest benefits of the cover 3 coverage scheme is the ability to walk the SS up into the box with minimal to no changes in the coverage due to the pre-snap center field position of the FS. This enables the defense to play both man and zone coverage out of an 8 man front while cover 2 schemes allow only for man coverage with 8 man fronts. The New England Patriots are notorious for using SS Rodney Harrison as more of a third OLB than a coverage safety and regularly employ cover 3 coverages.
Cover 3 schemes are susceptible to short, timed passes to the outside due to the hard drop of both CBs. This puts pressure on the OLBs to get into their drop quickly. Another disadvantage of cover 3 schemes is they are relatively easy to diagnose by opposing QBs. Because of this teams will often employ slight wrinkles in their coverage to confuse offenses. An example of this includes employing man coverage on one side and zone on another or swapping coverage zones between defenders.
Cover 4 refers to 4 deep defenders each guarding one-fourth of the deep zone. Cover 4 schemes are usually used to defend against deep passes. (See Prevent defense). A formation in American football refers to the position players line up in before the start of a down.
The most basic Cover 4 scheme involves 2 CBs and 2 safeties. Upon snap, the CBs work for depth, backpedaling into their assigned zone. Both safeties backpedal towards their assigned zone.
As with other coverage shells, Cover 4 is paired with underneath man or zone coverage in its most basic form.
The main weakness of Cover 4 shells is the retreating defensive backs. Since the DBs are working for depth, short pass routes underneath can isolate them on a wide receiver near the sideline with little help.
The weakness of a cover 4 shell is primarily the curl/hook zone.
Cover 0 refers to pure man coverage with no deep defender. Similar to Cover 1, Cover 0 has the same strengths and weaknesses however employs an extra rusher at the expense of deep coverage help leaving each pass defender "on an island" with his man.
Tampa 2 refers to a style of defense played by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and implemented by its coaches, Tony Dungy, Herm Edwards, Lovie Smith, and Monte Kiffin, in recent years. The Tampa 2 is an American football defensive strategy popularized by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers National Football League (NFL team in the mid 1990s-early The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (often shortened as the Bucs) are a professional American football team based in Tampa Florida. Anthony Kevin "Tony" Dungy (born October 6, 1955) is a former professional American football player and the current Head coach of the Herman Lee "Herm" Edwards Jr (born April 27, 1954) is the American football Head coach of the National Football League Lovie Lee Smith (born in Gladewater Texas) is the Head coach of the Chicago Bears professional football team of the NFL. Monte Kiffin (born February 29, 1940 in Lexington Nebraska) is an American football coach in the NFL. Because of its success it has become popular with many professional and college teams. It blends the Cover 2 and Cover 3 defenses by having two defensive backs, usually the safeties, in deep coverage on either side of the field, and a middle linebacker covering the medium to deep middle. Its benefit over the Cover 2 is that the sidelines and middle of the field are better protected against deep threats, with the drawback being a larger open area in the short middle of the field underneath the middle linebacker. Its benefit over the Cover 3 is that it only dedicates two defensive backs to deep coverage rather than three, allowing for better protection against short outside routes.
"Special team" is the term used to describe the specialized group of players who take the field during kickoffs, free kicks, punts, and field goal attempts. Most football teams' special teams include one or more kickers, a long snapper (who specializes in accurate snaps over long distances), kick returners who catch and carry the ball after it is kicked by the opposing team, and blockers who defend during kicks and returns.
Some players may take the field as members of the offense or defense as well as the special teams; two notable examples are Steve Smith, wide receiver for the NFL's Carolina Panthers, who also played as a kick returner during the 2005 NFL season, and was drafted primarily as a special teams player, and Terrence McGee, starting cornerback and kick returner for the Buffalo Bills. Stevonne Latrall Smith (born May 12, 1979 in Lynwood California) is an American football Wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers A wide receiver is an offensive position in American and Canadian football The Carolina Panthers are a professional football team based in Charlotte North Carolina, representing both North Carolina and South Carolina in the Terrence Dewayne McGee (born October 14, 1980 in Smith County Texas) is an American football Cornerback and kick returner The Buffalo Bills are a professional American football team based in the Buffalo New York Metropolitan area, playing seven of their home games in the suburb However, because of the risk of injury, it is uncommon for a starting offensive or defensive player to also play on a special teams unit. Specialty and depth positions (such as a third wide receiver, like Roscoe Parrish or Dante Hall) will often fill special teams roles instead. Roscoe Parrish (born July 16, 1982 in Miami Florida) is an American football Wide receiver and Punt returner who currently Damieon Dante Hall (born September 20, 1978 in Lufkin Texas) is an American football kick returner, Punt returner
Although these are risky, there are a variety of strategic plays which can be attempted during kickoffs, punts, and field goals which can be used to surprise the opposition and (hopefully) score points.
A kickoff occurs at the beginning of each half, overtime period, touchdown, successful field goal, or safety. At the beginning of the game and in overtime periods, a coin toss determines which team kicks off and which team receives. At the beginning of the second half, the team that kicked off in the first half receives it instead. After a field goal or a touchdown, the team which scored kicks off. After a safety, the team which did not score kicks off.
Strategically, the coach of the kicking team may choose to have his players kick the ball in one of several ways:
Field goals are often viewed as a way for teams to turn a disappointing drive into a small victory. A field goal (formerly "goal from the field" in US football and Canadian football is a goal that may be scored during general play ("from However, many football games are decided by field goals in the final minutes or seconds of play, making the ability to kick an accurate field goal vital for any football team.
The strategy for a field goal is fairly straightforward. The team on offense forms a protective semicircle behind the line of scrimmage on either side of the center, who snaps the ball to the holder. The holder positions the ball so that the kicker - moving from a short distance away - can quickly get into position and accurately kick the ball through the goalposts. The remaining players block the opposing team, whose members will be trying to break through the protective circle in order to block the kick or bat it aside for a chance to intercept the ball. If a team misses the field goal, the opposing team takes possession of the ball without a kickoff from the spot where the ball was kicked (as opposed to the line of scrimmage). In American and Canadian football a line of scrimmage is an imaginary transverse line crossing the football field across its narrower dimension beyond
Distance, the amounts of wind and noise within the stadium, and the amount of experience the kicker has are all determining factors in the success or failure of a field goal attempt. The majority of successful field goal attempts are kicked within 50 yards of the goalpost. However, some kickers can - and often do - make good kicks from farther away. The current NFL record for the longest successful field goal was set in 1970 by Tom Dempsey of the New Orleans Saints, who kicked from 63 yards out. The National Football League ( NFL) is the largest professional American football league. Thomas John Dempsey (born January 12, 1947 in Milwaukee Wisconsin) is a former American football Placekicker in the NFL The New Orleans Saints are a professional American football team based in New Orleans Louisiana. It should be noted that Dempsey had an unusually shaped foot due to a birth defect; his kicking foot had no toes, and he wore a special shoe in the shape of that foot (now illegal by NFL rules). Jason Elam of the Denver Broncos tied this record in 1998. Jason Elam (born March 8, 1970 in Fort Walton Beach, Florida) is an American football Placekicker for the Atlanta The Denver Broncos are a professional American football team based in Denver, Colorado. Matt Bryant of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicked the third longest field goal (62 yards) on October 22, 2006. Steven Matt Bryant (born May 21, 1975 in Orange Texas) is an American football Placekicker in the National Football League The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (often shortened as the Bucs) are a professional American football team based in Tampa Florida. Only four other times has a NFL field goal of 60 yards or more been completed.
Modern kickers use a soccer style kick, which involves taking a diagonal approach to the ball and kicking with the inside of the foot. Many kickers in the 1950s and earlier kicked the ball by lining up directly behind it and approaching straight ahead. This is still seen today in a limited capacity in high school and college football. Tom Dempsey used a similar approach, which benefitted from his clublike kicking foot.
In some situations, a coach may choose to have his team fake a field goal attempt. The players line up as normal, but instead of holding the ball for a kick, the player receiving the snap may run with the ball, hand it off to another player, or attempt to throw it downfield. This play is quite risky and therefore not used often.
It is possible for the defensive team to return a missed field goal, although this is attempted very rarely. If a field goal attempt is short of the goal posts a player may return the ball just as on a punt. Teams usually try a return only when a very long field goal is attempted at the end of the first half, since in all other cases it is more advantageous for the defense to just let the ball fall short. Players who have done this in recent years include Chris McAlister of the Baltimore Ravens (in 2002, 107 yards versus the Denver Broncos), and Chicago Bears players Nathan Vasher (in 2005, for 108 yards versus the San Francisco 49ers) and Devin Hester (in 2006, also for 108 yards versus the New York Giants). Christopher James McAlister (born June 14, 1977 in Pasadena California) is an American football Cornerback for the Baltimore The Baltimore Ravens are a professional American football team based in Baltimore Maryland. The Denver Broncos are a professional American football team based in Denver, Colorado. The Chicago Bears are a professional American football team based in Chicago, Illinois. Nathaniel deWayne Vasher (born November 17, 1981 in Wichita Falls Texas) is an American football Cornerback, who plays for the The San Francisco 49ers are a professional American football team Devin Hester (born November 4 1982 is an American football Wide receiver and Return specialist for the Chicago Bears of the National Football The New York Giants are a professional American football team based in the New York City suburb of East Rutherford New Jersey. On November 4, 2007, San Diego's Antonio Cromartie returned a 57-yard Ryan Longwell field goal attempt 109 yards for the longest touchdown in NFL history in a game against the Minnesota Vikings. Antonio Cromartie (born April 15, 1984 in Tallahassee Florida) is an American football Cornerback for the San Diego Chargers Ryan Walker Longwell (born August 16, 1974) is an American football Placekicker for the Minnesota Vikings in the National Football The Minnesota Vikings are a professional American football team based out of Minneapolis Minnesota.
Most teams punt on fourth down when the chances of gaining enough yards for a first down are slim and when the ball is too far from the goalpost to allow a field goal try. Generally, a member of the opposing team moves into position to catch the ball. He may try to gain yards by running the ball downfield, or he may signal a fair catch by waving one arm above his head, thus agreeing that he will not attempt to return the ball downfield. A fair catch is a feature of American football and several other codes of football. A player who has signalled a fair catch may not be tackled after catching the ball, else the player who tackled him will be penalized for kick-catching interference. A fair catch is a feature of American football and several other codes of football.
In some cases, a coach may attempt trickery by switching between his offense and special teams players between plays. A coach may call a time-out, send the kicking team onto the field, and then when the play clock resumes quickly run his offense back on and his kicking team off, hopefully disorienting the defending team enough to advance on the ensuing play or cause a penalty if the defending team cannot switch personnel quickly enough. However, this trickery can also result in penalties against the offense if the play takes too long (delay of game) or if too many players remain on the field when the ball is snapped.
Occasionally a coach will line his team up in a shotgun formation and have the quarterback "quick kick" or "pooch punt" -- using the element of surprise to cause the defense not to have a receiver ready. Some teams will even do this from a field goal formation, having the ball snapped directly to the placekicker who then punts the ball downfield instead of trying a field goal that has a low percentage of success.
If, for whatever reason, the receiving team does not catch the ball, the kicking team may move into position and try to down it as close as possible to the opposing team's end zone. This is achieved by surrounding the ball and allowing it to roll or bounce, without touching it, as close as possible to the end zone. If the ball appears to be rolling or bouncing into the end zone, a player may run in front of the goal line and attempt to bat it down or catch it. If a member of the kicking team touches or catches the ball before a member of the receiving team does so, the ball is blown dead by the official when he has judged that the returner is not going to pick up the ball and return it, or the kicking team picks the ball up and hands it to the official. Once the whistle is blown the play is over and the receiving team takes possession at the spot the ball was spotted by the official.
Thus it is strategically important for kicking teams to get as close to the ball as possible after a punt, so that they may quickly tackle a returner, down the ball as close to the opposing team's end zone as possible, and (if possible) recover the ball after a fumble and regain possession of the ball.
In much the same way as a fake field goal (described above), a fake punt is an effort to trick the opposition and either score or gain enough yards for a first down. Fake punts are risky for the same reasons as fake field goals and are thus rarely attempted.
In 2005 the opposite of this play has become increasingly popular, with teams lining up in a shotgun offensive alignment or field goal attempt alignment. The ball is snapped to the QB/holder/kicker, who immediately punts the ball. This is done in situations where a full length punt would simply result in a touchback and allows the punting team a better chance of getting downfield to prevent the punt from entering the endzone (the reasoning being that the defensive backs will not jam the receivers off the line as they would the gunners in a punting alignment).
Skilled punters may try to punt a ball past the return team so that the ball touches the playing field in bounds, then rolls out of bounds close to the opposing team's end zone. The drawback to such a punt is that the ball may roll into the end zone (touchback), giving the receiving team normal starting position. In American football, a touchback is a ruling which is made and signaled by the Referee when the ball crosses into or through the end zone not in control of the team Or, if the kick is angled too sharply, it will go out of bounds too early and result in an unusually short, or botched, punt. The best punters are highly regarded for their ability to put the ball out of bounds within five yards of the goal line. These punts are also known as "coffin corner punters" due to their ability to pin an opposing offense inside its own five-yard line, thus increasing the chances for the opposing defense to score a safety or a defensive touchdown. In the game of American football, a coffin corner may refer to the corner of the playing field just in front of the end zone A safety or safety touch is a type of score in American football and Canadian football and is worth two points (with one very rare exception)
The biggest choice facing a kick returner is whether or not to attempt to run the ball back. Generally, a returner who catches a kickoff or punt in the "red zone" between the receiving team's own end zone and 20 yard line will attempt some sort of return, if only to gain a few yards. If the receiving team's players can get into position quickly, they may be able to allow the returner to gain further yardage or break away from the pack entirely and score a touchdown.
In extreme cases - generally during kickoff returns in the closing seconds of play - the returner may attempt a lateral pass to avoid the ball being downed in a tackle. In American football a lateral pass or lateral, officially referred to as a backward pass, and an "onside pass" in Canadian football The return team may throw as many lateral passes as they choose, and this is normally done in a desperate attempt to keep the ball alive. Perhaps the most resounding use of lateral passes during a kickoff return came in the closing seconds of the 1982 Stanford vs. Cal game, in which five laterals during a kickoff return allowed the California Golden Bears to score a winning touchdown. PLEASE NOTE The Stanford team is the The California Golden Bears is the nickname used for 27 varsity athletic programs of the University of California Berkeley. The lateral was also the prominent play in the 2000 AFC Wild Card playoff game between the Tennessee Titans and the Buffalo Bills, now known as the Music City Miracle. The Music City Miracle is one of the most famous and exciting plays in the history of the NFL. After Steve Christie kicked a 51-yard field goal to give Buffalo a 16-15 lead with 16 seconds remaining, the Titans’ Kevin Dyson returned a Frank Wycheck lateral on the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown, scoring with three seconds left in the game. Controversy ensued over whether the pass was a lateral, or a forward pass, but after review, the play stood; Tennessee won the game and went on to play in Super Bowl XXXIV.
If a punted ball is touched after passing the line of scrimmage, even inadvertently, by a member of the receiving team it becomes a live ball and may be recovered as if a fumble by the kicking team. Conversely if the receiving team doesn't touch the ball and a member of the kicking team touches it, the ball is ruled down where it is touched and play is dead. All place-kicked balls--kick-offs, field goal attempts, and the like--are live balls which may be played in one way or another by either team (subject to restrictions in the case of any "free" kick: see onside kick). Onside kick (sometimes onsides kick) is a term used in American and Canadian football for a type of kickoff, and in some circumstances and leagues
A kick returner may signal a fair catch if the ball will be caught with good field position, or if the kicking team's members are advancing so quickly that a return is impossible. A fair catch is a feature of American football and several other codes of football. However, he will be penalized if he attempts a return after signaling a fair catch; likewise, players who tackle a returner who has signaled a fair catch will be penalized. If a player waves for a fair catch and then fails to touch the ball, it may be downed as normal by the kicking team, but if recovered by the receiving team, may not be advanced. However, if any member of the receiving team catches a ball and then drops it, it becomes a live ball and may be recovered by either side.