Thursday, December 15, 2011

Morphing the 4-2-5 into the 3-3...Keeping the Offense on its Toes...

The new craze amongst coaches is finding ways to be multiple with their defense.  I had an argument a couple of months back with a coach who claimed I was playing defenses and not defense, when I alluded to a 3-3 package I had added to my base 4-2-5.  The fact is, defense is not merely how you add three numbers up to get the number 11, it is very simply formatted into four easy items:
  1. Alignment
  2. Assignment
  3. Pursuit
  4. Tackling
As the reader can see, none of the above has anything to do with what front or coverage you have chosen to run.  Ahh, the fundamentals are the key!  However, as all of us know, having an ace up our sleeve is the axiom of being a good defensive coordinator.  Whether it be that key blitz you've kept under your hat for just that right moment, or a stunt you have not shown on film, defensive coordinators (DC's) are known for being able to come up with the right answer at the right moment.  Well, I'm going to show you an easy way to do just that to your opponent, but morphing the 4-2-5 with the 3-3.

Nothing wrong with keeping that ace up your sleeve...
Ok, so how does one do this, quite simply there are two schools of thought here.  You can do it via a personnel package, or simply by moving one player off the line of scrimmage (LOS), back to the linebacker (LB) position.  Either way, the idea is very simple, and as usual, IT'S NOT MINE.  Let's start with the base front:

Base 4-2-5 vs. pro

To get into the 3-3, we make a couple of calls to do this.  The first call is "Tight" (this is TCU's Power call) which puts both DE's in five techniques.  The next call is the double digit number "00".  Anytime the DL hear 00 in my scheme (that I stole), then the tackle moves to a 0 technique and the noseguard stacks behind him at LB depth.  The ILB's know, when they hear 00, they move to fifty techniques, stacking over the defensive ends.  Here's how it looks against a pro set:

Tight 00 call vs. pro
 The only rule here is that you must tag the front call with strong or weak to tell the tackle what gap to attack.  If no gap is called, he will simply bull rush the center.  The nose will attack the A gap opposite the call.  For instance, if Tight 00 Weak is called, the tackle will attack the weak A gap, and the Nose blitzes the strong A gap as shown below:

You can also run some good stunts here too, where you send the tackle and nose in the A gaps, while the DE's crash the B gaps:

A large majority of the TCU blitz package can be run from this look as well.

If you decide not to bring pressure, tag the front with "drop" and you will drop the nose into the low hole area and let him beat up on any crossers.  You can also tag it with "spy" and have the nose spy a good running QB.  The possibilities are endless!

So there you have it!  The 4-2 can easily be modified into the 3-3 with little to no changes in what you do.  For those that argue you are playing two different defenses I'd have to say this:
  1. None of the reads for any player changes.
  2. The nose rushes every time, he should be able to do this from a stance, or back at linebacker depth.  If he cannot this is where you can substitute in a good pass rusher that is either another DL, LB or DB for that matter.
  3. The adjustments are still handled with the coverage, so nothing changes there.

So, as you can see, there is little to no changes for any of the defenders.  Personally, I would take the nose out and replace him with another linebacker.  I like to use a very quick, disruptive kid at that nose position out of this front.  The benefits here far outweigh the risk in my opinion.  You get a team that prepares for the 4-2 all week, and you come out in the 3-3 and blow their minds, then switch back to the 4-2.  A very simple way to keep do what defenses are supposed to do...keep the offense guessing.

Now that's disruptive!

Hope you enjoyed this one, it was requested by a reader.  If you have any questions just email me at or follow me on Twitter @theduece02.