Understanding Defensive Fronts

In Defense by vIQtoryLeave a Comment

In order to win football games, the defense needs to control the line of scrimmage. Understanding defensive fronts and how players align is a major part of controlling the line of scrimmage. Also, generating a pass rush and controlling gaps so running backs can’t run freely require a great technique and solid scheme.

Understanding Defensive Fronts

Similar to how an offense has a play script, detailing what each player’s job is, the defensive line has as responsibility.

In order to stop the run, the defensive line must control gaps ( the spaces between each lineman) in order to fully understand defensive fronts. This forces the running back to slow his feet or run laterally, which is great for the defense.

We’re going to be using the numbering system you learned in the previous lesson ( 1, 2i, 3, etc.) to identify techniques. If do know the numbering system for defensive alignments, check out this article on alignments and gaps before you continue reading!

Each defensive position has an alignment and assignment, based on the front that they’re in. We’re going to detail the most common fronts used in football.

Over Front

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

Defensive Tackles: 1 Technique & 3 Technique
Defensive Ends: 5 Technique

over front

As shown above, the 3 technique will be set to the tight end side. The 1 technique will be set on the opposite side of the center.

Under Front

The under front is similar to the over front, the only difference is that the 3 technique is now set to the opposite side of the tight end.

Defensive Tackles: 1 Technique & 3 Technique
Defensive Ends: 5 Technique

under front

Teams will shift their linebackers to the tight end side, if he’s a viable passing threat, and play the 3 technique opposite side.

Field Front

The “field” set is same as the over/under front, only the defensive front is set to the field (the side of the field with more space). These fronts are used if there’s no tight end.

Defensive Tackles: 1 Technique & 3 Technique
Defensive Ends: 5 Technique

field front

As shown above, the open side of the field has the 3 technique occupying the B gap, and the opposite side is occupied by the 1 technique.

Boundary Front

The boundary set is also the same as the over/under front, except the 3 technique will go toward the “short” side of the field, otherwise known as the “boundary’

Defensive Tackles: 1 Technique & 3 Technique
Defensive Ends: 5 Techniques

boundary front

As shown above, the 3 technique will occupy the B gap to the short side of the field and 1 technique to the field side.

Bear Front

The bear front, made famous by the Chicago bears, requires 3 defensive tackles to occupy the 3 interior offensive lineman ( Center & 2 guards).

Nose Guard: 0 Technique
Defensive Tackles: 2 Techniques
Defensive Ends: 5 Techniques

bear front

The easiest and most efficient way to identify a bear front, is see if the defense has the center and 2 guards covered.

Tight/Okie Front

Moving into the 3-man fronts, the first scheme is the tight front. The tight front is one of the more popular schemes to defend against the spread attack.

Nose Tackle: 0 Technique
Defensive Ends: 4i Technique

tight okie front

The 0 technique is usually a player that can handle double teams and own 1 on 1 blocking. The 2 4i’s are primarily B Gap players, which can disrupt zone blocking schemes.

Stack/Base Front

The stack front is similar to the tight/okie front, however it has the defensive ends either head up or outside alignment of the tackle. This front is common against spread attacks, with teams who like to throw the football.

Nose Tackle: 0 Technique
Defensive Ends: 4/5 Technique

stack front

Again, this defense typically requires a very good nose tackle to be able to play 2 A gaps.

What Defensive Front Is The Best?

As mentioned in our defensive’s formations blog, it depends on your personnel. The best scheme is the one that fits the players and the coach is the most comfortable coaching. If a coach has run a 3-4 scheme his whole life, it may be tough to adjust to the 4-3. It all depends on the coach.

What is your favorite front to play? Let us know in the comment section below.

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