Welcome back to our series on learning football! Now that you have a basic understanding of the offense, we continue our exploration by diving deeper into the types of players on defense. By learning about these key players of the game, you’ll be able to take your understanding of football to the next level.
The defense is the team that begins a play from scrimmage without possession of the ball. The objective of the defensive team is to prevent the other team from scoring and win possession of the ball for their side. The defense can accomplish this by several means. They can force the offense to turn the ball over by preventing a first down and forcing them to punt, forcing and recovering an offensive fumble, intercepting a pass, or forcing a turnover on downs.
The 11 positions of the defense squad as follows;
Defensive line: The defensive line consists of three or four players who line up opposite the offensive line. Their primary job is to stop running plays and rush the quarterback on passing plays.
Linebacker: Linebackers are responsible for stopping running plays and covering receivers on passing plays. They usually line up behind or beside the defensive linemen.
Cornerback: Cornerbacks are responsible for covering wide receivers on passing plays. They usually line up opposite wide receivers at the start of each play.
Safety: Safeties are responsible for covering deep passes and stopping running plays that get past the linebackers. They usually line up behind all other defensive players at the start of each play.
Unlike the offensive team, the rules of the sport do not restrict the defensive team into certain positions. A defensive player may line up anywhere on his side of the line of scrimmage and perform any legal action.
Like their offensive counterparts, defensive linemen (also called rushers) line up directly on the line of scrimmage. There are two positions usually considered part of the defensive line:
Defensive tackle: Sometimes called a “defensive guard”, defensive tackles play at the center of the defensive line. Their function is to rush the passer and stop running plays directed at the middle of the line of scrimmage. The most interior defensive tackle who sometimes lines up directly across from the ball and is, called a “nose tackle” or “nose guard”.
Defensive end : Defensive ends line up outside of the defensive tackles and are the “ends” of the defensive line. Their function is to attack the passer or stop offensive runs to the outer edges of the line of scrimmage.
Linebackers: Linebackers play behind the defensive line and perform various duties depending on the situation, including rushing the passer, covering receivers, and defending against the run.
Middle linebacker: Middle linebackers must be capable of stopping running backs who make it past the defensive line, covering pass plays over the middle, and rushing the quarterback on certain plays.
Outside linebacker: Outside linebackers are given different names depending on their roles. The outside linebacker lines up on the same side as the offensive tight end and often is responsible for covering the tight end or running back on pass plays. Other times the outside linebackers are used to rush, or blitz, the quarterback or to cover a running back on pass plays.
Defensive backs: Defensive backs, also known as the “secondary”, play either behind the linebackers or outside near the sidelines and are primarily used to defend against pass plays. They also act as the last line of defense on running plays and need to be able to make open field tackles, especially when the ball carrier has gotten past the other defenders.
Cornerback: Cornerbacks attempt to prevent successful passes by either swatting the airborne ball away from the receiver or by catching the pass themselves.
Safety: The safeties are the last line of defense as they are furthest from the line of scrimmage and usually help the corners with deep-pass coverage.
Defensive formations are often known by a numerical code indicating the number of players at each position. The two most common formations are the 3–4 defense and the 4–3 defense, where the first number refers to the number of defensive linemen, and the second number refers to the number of linebackers.
To learn more about defensive positions visit: