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Common NFL Defensive Formations

September 3, 2008 by sportsroids 

3-4 Defense Formation

3-4 Defense Formation

The 3-4 Formation is a common defensive Formation run by many teams. The “3-4″ stands for 3 Down lineman and 4 Defensive Linebackers. Please Note: The Middle Defensive Lineman is referred to as the Nose Tackle instead of the DT (Defensive Tackle) because he lines up on the nose of the offensive center. Nose Tackles are often the largest players on the defense. Chris Jenkins and Casey Hampton are great examples of what a Nose Tackle should be. Several NFL teams which are known for running this package are The Pittsburgh Steelers, The New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens in addition to many others.

4-3 Defense Formation

4-3 Defense Formation

This is a very commonly used formation and is the basis for most teams in the NFL’s defensive play books. Teams which have thrived running this defense are The Giants, The Falcons and The Eagles to name a few.

4-3 Over Defensive Formation shift

4-3 Over Defensive Formation shift

The word “Over” shows us that there has been a shift in the alignment of the Defensive Linebacking core. As your can see in “Over” we see that the OLB shifts to the strong side of the field. How to determine what is the strong side of the field will be discussed in a separate post.

4-3 Defense Under Formation Shift

4-3 Defense Under Formation Shift

“Under” is the polar opposite of the “Over” formation shift call. Look the linebackers have lined up shifting to the other side of the field. This side is the weak side, however, this will also be augmented with an additional post. Please note: The shifted lineback in both of these formation shifts (”Over”&”Under”) line up closer to the line than they would normally. This will aid in stopping the outside run, holding containment of the running backs (Not letting them get outside), as well as free them up for a Pass rush for a sack(tackling the Quarterback behind the line of scrimmage)

Nickle Defensive Formation

Nickle Defensive Formation

This is a Defensive set that is used primarily in passing situations (E.G. 3rd and 10). We see that one of the Linebackers from the 4-3 defense has been substituted for a member of the defensive secondary(Safeties & Cornerbacks). This new member of the Defense is referred as the Nickelback and that is where this Formation gets its name. Nickel Formation = Nickelback on the field. It’s just that simple. Almost every team in the professional level has this defensive play set.

Dime Defense Formation

Dime Defense Formation

The Dime, is a very aggressive defense against the pass. It is usually not run in possible rushing situations due to its instability against the run. As you can see only one linebacker remains on the field while the rest of them have been substituted out for additional Cornerbacks. This formation is a long passing situation defense and is utilized by most NFL teams. The better a team’s secondary is the more likely the dime formation will be effective.

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