Top 5 Sets for Success — Defense
Improving your defense means having a solid package of plays that show the offense different looks depending on game situations. Disguising your defense should be able to keep the offense on their heels, and you can mix up your play calls. You can either play an aggressive style that can force turnovers but let up big plays, or use a conservative defense that gives up underneath but prevents long passes. As long as your red zone defense is solid, you can give up lots of yards but limit points by the offense. Make sure to start out with a solid run-stopping game plan; if you can’t stop the run easily, it opens up the rest of your defense to attack. We use our best 11 athletes on the field and try to find a formation/package that puts them in the best position to make plays!
5. Man Blitz
4. Zone Blitz
3. Base Zone
2. Base Man
1. Run Defense
5. Man Blitz
Example: DB Blitz
Pro Tip: Always play deep to short with your safety in man blitz situations.
Bringing pressure from a man-to-man front usually diminishes your safety help over the top. In this situation, your corners should be back and giving the WRs some cushion. This will let the QB get the ball out short, but if he holds it or misses a hot read, he is going to take a hit. Remember to add press coverage to some of your blitzes to throw off the timing of certain routes. If a WR can’t get a free release he won’t be the QB’s hot read option. However, this leaves your defense vulnerable to the deep ball if the WR can get off the bump, so make sure you know how long it will take your blitzes to get home! We usually leave the HB uncovered and concede a short throw to the flat. On third and 20, a 5-yard gain to the flat means the offense is still punting.
4. Zone Blitz
Example: DB Blitz 2
Pro Tip: Dropping a defensive lineman into a QB spy can also help stop quick throws over the middle.
The zone blitz is a tremendous way to confuse QBs who are struggling to read your defense. The key is to bring pressure from one side of the defense while dropping players in zones to the other side. The QB will often look to get the ball out quickly when he sees the pressure coming and not realize that the defense dropped on the opposite side of the field. To maximize the effectiveness of these blitzes, we user-control the weakest area of the coverage since we can cover more ground. Most opponents steer away from throwing into a user-covered area if they respect your skill in making plays on the ball. Make sure to use the same fronts and blitzing angles and just mix up the zone and man looks behind them.
3. Base Man
Examples: 2 Man Under, Cover 1
Pro Tip: Dropping a lineman into a hook or buzz zone can shut down some favorite man-beating routes!
For most teams, man-to-man is best when mixed in with zone defenses. Some more aggressive players use teams that have solid cover corners and can play heavy man-to-man. These tend to be more aggressive defenses and can really stress an opponent who doesn’t have elite talent to win one-on-one battles. If you are tired of being dinked and dunked by your opponent, try going to man to lock them up. Getting beat in the seams and to the corner can be frustrating with zone coverage, and man can really lock these favorite game plans up! Look for teams with two solid 90-plus man coverage rated corners, such as the NY Jets.
2. Base Zone
Examples: Cover 2, Cover 3, Cover 4
Pro Tip: Varying between a Cover 3 and Cover 3 Buzz can give your opponent different looks while keeping you in your comfort zone.
ZFarls’s style is to play back on the first few drives of the game and give his opponents a false sense of confidence. He likes to use a three-down line and just allow them to rush organically. Although his opponents can move the ball early, it forces them to use long drives (more than 10 plays) to even get into field goal range. ZFarls considers it a win if he has given up fewer than 10 points to his opponents at halftime and has seen their full scheme. In the second half, he mixes in the pressure when his opponents think they have time, and he has great knowledge of what plays his opponents are comfortable running. By controlling a linebacker early in the game, he can keep an eye on the TE, whom most players use over the middle, and prevent himself from sneaking up with a safety and getting burned! This style works great early in the season when most players don’t have many great blitzes. If you come out in Cover 4, you can use your quick audibles to access Cover 2, Cover 3, and 2 Man Under! This gives you great flexibility before the snap.
1. Run Defense
Examples: 5-2 Normal, Cover 3
Pro Tip: Using “show blitz” from most base sets gives your defense a Bear front, which can lock up inside runs!
Our run defense is usually made from a Cover 3 base that brings the safety down into the box to make an inverted Cover 2. Our run defense is balanced to all gaps and we user-control the safety and look to attack the ball carrier on inside runs. On outside runs, we contain the play by keeping him wide and will attempt to engage with a blocker, which can free up one of our other defenders to make the tackle. This is a solid football concept that works consistently. If the offense brings out extra weight like a Tackle Over formation, simply slide the line towards the extra tackle. The offense will be very weak to the other side and won’t have much success going away from their strength.