View Full Version : Defensive Strategy

07-07-2010, 03:27 PM
I consider myself to be far from a novice football fan and one who is perhaps more drawn to the intellectual and strategic aspects of the game than to the flashy catches or end zone antics. While I understand a lot of the things that happen on the offensive side of the football, I will admit that I truly don't know that much about defensive strategy, game plans, and the various packages employed by NFL franchises. Obviously I understand what is discussed amongst TV commentators and like most fans reading this, my knowledge is advanced beyond questions like, "what does 8 in the box mean?" I feel like advanced defensive strategy is something that you grow to understand by either playing organized football (which I did not) or through explanation by someone who has played at a high level.

I understand (but don't like) why this is glossed over on telecasts, given the target audience. But that's precisely why we are all reading/writing here, is it not? Perhaps through either fan input or with the help of a football pro, we can shed some light on defense.

We can start anywhere, such as with basic packages or the advantages of a 3-4 vs a 4-3. I have also proposed a few questions below. Feel free to add to this!

Are defensive plays called in an anticipatory or reactionary manner, or both? Meaning, does the D coordinator react to the offense's package on the field, or try to anticipate which types of plays they will be running? How much of what is actually executed is a result of audibles?

07-08-2010, 12:58 AM
Q1: Anticipatory, with audibles as a reactionary tool to incompatible offensive alignments. You have to anticipate what the offense is going to do [putting in an extra safety for third and long, for example]--it is too hard to react late. Making a change based on a reaction is a risk--much easier to anticipate what's coming and subtly adjust.

07-08-2010, 01:20 AM
The coordinators puts out anticipatory packages, but the reactionary is equally important when the offense goes in motion. This is why it's impossible to give enough credit to the on-field coordinators who can read this and adjust on the fly (either directing their own players like chess pieces or adjusting themselves), i.e. Brooking, Pierece, Urlacher, Reed, Polamalu, Dawkins, etc. These anchor types of players are the ones both the DC and defensive players trust to make the decisions that put them in position to make a play, so that's who they go-to when Peyton is calling twenty different audibles.

It's pretty tough to measure the credibility of audibles, since there isn't an actual measuring system and we don't know which are real, which are fake, what they mean, and who screwed what up when one goes right or wrong. Safe to say a lot of audibles are purely for guile and subterfuge to confuse the other team - so in that sense, they're extremely effective. I'd be very interested to hear the FPL take on this.