How To Create A Defensive Call Sheet

Written By: Chris Haddad
Updated: February 12, 2024

Defensive coordinators have the tough task of keeping points off the scoreboard. Along with installing easy-to-learn schemes, defensive coordinators need to make the right calls at the right time.

An organized call sheet can help defensive coordinators put their players in the best position possible to make plays.

Let’s learn how to create a defensive call sheet.

Defensive Call Sheet

Defensive call sheets are similar to offensive ones, as most of the calls you will make will depend on the situation.

There are three major factors you should consider when calling your defensive play.

  • Down and Distance
  • Field Zone
  • Personnel

Remember, as a defensive play caller you need to treat every individual down differently. 3rd and 2 from the opponent’s own 5 yards line is different than 3rd and 2 from your own goal line.

Down And Distance Calls

Down and distance calls are important because it allows you to be aggressive or passive, based on the down and distance (1st and 10, 2nd and 3, etc.).

If you face a team that always runs the ball on 1st and 10, you may want to call an aggressive run defense.

If the quarterback is scared to sit in the pocket on 3rd and long distances, there may be an opportunity to blitz them to get a sack.

defensive call sheet football

This is why we’ve broken up our call sheet into down and distance calls, so you can feel comfortable checking the markers, and making the appropriate calls.

Personnel Calls

Next, we’re going to talk about personnel calls. If you’re wondering what the different colors mean in the picture above, it’s the personnel.

How we define personnel is the first number is how many running backs there are in the game. The second number is how many tight ends are in the game.

defensive call sheet in football

For instance, 21 personnel is 2 running backs and 1 tight end. (You can learn more about personnel here). The number needs to total 5, so there are 2 wide receivers on the field as well.

Why is this important? If a team has 2 running backs and 1 tight end in the game, there is a good chance they are running the football. If your opponent has 10 personnel, it means there are in a pass-heavy set.

In order to match these personnel changes, you may have to adjust yours. If the opponent goes to 10 personnel, you may need to bring extra speed players on the field to keep up with the speed of the offense.

The same goes for if the offense brings in 2 tight ends into the game, you will need to match it with bigger players.

Personnel plays a large part in how the offense calls their plays. Make sure you’re able to identify why teams call certain plays, with certain personnel, so you can counter against it.

Game Management

The last part of our sheet is the game management and adjustment section.

Defensive coordinators need to be constantly making adjustments. This is why we have a section for you to write notes during the game.

defensive call sheet in football

After each drive, jot down your notes and consult with other defensive coaches on how you can improve. Even if you had a great series on defense, there is always room for improvement.

Last is our clock management section. While the offensive will predominantly control the clock from starting and stopping, we can help delay it.

Keep track of how many timeouts each team has, so you can smartly use yours.

This section of the defensive call sheet will help you stay organized.

Uncover your opponent’s offensive and defensive tendencies so you can easily build a game plan.

Inside You’ll Find:

  • Strategies to pick apart defenses
  • How to identify player weaknesses
  • How to save time in your weekly breakdowns

Get Your Call Sheet

Feel free to leave in or take out as many sections as you would like. We wanted to give you as much as possible, so you can best fit your needs as a youth or high school coach.

Get Your Defensive Call Sheet Here

If you have any questions on the defensive call sheet, feel free to contact us at [email protected] and we’d be happy to help you!

About the author 

Chris Haddad

Chris Haddad is the founder of vIQtory Sports & high school coach for over 12+ years. He has been featured as an authority on Hudl, Bleacher Report and countless other football-centric platforms. Chris continues to study and provide valuable content for those looking to learn more about the game of football.

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