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four man pass rush package

four man pass rush package

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Published by Michael Schearer

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Published by: Michael Schearer on Nov 16, 2008
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On behalf of Wittenberg University, our

coaching staff and players, it is my honor to present this article for T h e American Football Coaches Association\u2019s 2002 Summer Manual.

At times, our defensive game plan changes drastically from week to week. One week we would prepare for the Wing T and turn right around the following week and game plan for shotgun or five wideouts.

We believe that it\u2019s important to have the kind of defensive flexibility to handle these different offensive attacks without wholesale changes. Most of the time you will find us in a four-man front regardless of our opponent\u2019s offense. This provides the type of balance that defenses both the run and pass.

Over the past several years we have faced many outstanding passing teams and blitzing was considered too risky. Often we would depend on a four-man pass rush to create pressure on the quar- terback. We have experienced some suc- cess statistically (Diagram 1).

From 1998 through 2001 we have aver - aged almost 40 sacks a season. In 2001 we concluded our season ranked 18th in rushing defense, eighth in scoring defense, 14th in turnover margin, and 21st in total yards allowed per game.

Within this article we\u2019ll discuss and dia-
gram three key areas that make up our

pass rush package:
The Pass Rush Checklist
The Scouting Report
The Call
The Pass Rush Checklist
The Basics

The pass rush checklist consists of a set of items we teach our defensive linemen throughout the year. The checklist is con- stantly reviewed and drilled during the course of the season. The checklist is even monitored during the game as they attack the offensive linemen on their way to the quarterback. The simplicity of the checklist makes it easy for both coach and player to use anytime.

There are five things the defensive line-
men must be aware of when rushing the

Make up step
Half man
The line


The base should narrow, from that of the normal run stance, with the legs loaded under the chest. A toe-to-heel relationship with the feet; some players can be several inches behind the heel when building their stance. The body weight should be forward and on the balls of the feet. A typical term we use when describing the weight shift is \u201cair under the heels.\u201d When field conditions are poor we emphasize the weight to be placed on the inside cleats. Visualize a sprinter in the starting blocks before the starting gun and you have the pass rush- er\u2019s stance only with a wider base as described above. The player should bring the off hand up so it\u2019s positioned over the thigh. The off hand will be important in a decision to bull rush. Players should be adept at both right and left handed stances but more importantly players should be in a stance that (they feel) will give them the best start off the ball. We practice our stance almost daily with particular attention given during the post season.

Make Up Step

The charge is low with the first step ahead of the placement of the down hand. The sep- aration between the defensive and off e n s i v e linemen must close very quickly. If the initial step does not clear that down hand, the off e n- sive lineman will have time to create the sep- aration he must maintain to protect the quar- terback. Coaches should review game tape to insure players are stepping directly up field. The second step is also critical and should be used to make up separation. The toes, knees and hips should be pointed straight ahead and square with the rest of the body.

AFCA Sum m er M anual
2 0 0 2
Diagr am 1
Jack Giambrone
Defensive Line Coach
Wittenberg University
Springfield, Ohio
Wittenber g\u2019s Red Swar m:
Four Man Pass Rush
Passing yards per game
Defensive pass efficiency
Total yards per game
Team record

Alignment will play a key role in closing the distance between linemen. Crowding the line of scrimmage is to a defensive line- man as knowing the snap count is to an offensive lineman. We take every inch we can. Remember the thought of closing the distance between the offensive and defen- sive lineman as quickly as possible. Crowding the line of scrimmage assists in getting on the offensive linemen quickly. Coaches can check this visually from the sidelines and make adjustments.

Half Man

Half Man or Getting on the Edge. Attack the offensive linemen on one side. Several years ago while reviewing game tape we noticed many players attacking offensive linemen right down the center line. That collision, unless it was a good bull rush, resulted in no pressure. Another key thought while attacking half man is the reduction of the defensive man\u2019s tar- get or area an offensive linemen can attack.

Today we talk about getting to an edge \u2014 powering to an area of an opponent and forcing a shoulder turn. It\u2019s easier to work a pass rush move against half man than it is to attempt to overpower the entire lineman \u2014 path of least resistance.


Most players have what they consider a best move. They should learn to perfect that move so it becomes their go-to move. During the course of the year defensive linemen must strive to learn and master others (swim, rip, push pull, speed or spin). Having multiple pass rush moves gives opponents more to work on when they view you on tape.

Except for the speed rush we always coach every move to have two parts. For instance, a rip move is set up with an aggressive outside arm punch. The push pull move is set up with the players hands inside giving a bull rush look. All moves are made while the defensive lineman is attacking up the field or on the run. We also practice each of several pass rush moves daily. We give special attention to those that we have not perfected.

The Line
The line to the quarterback is deter-
mined by the quarterback\u2019s drop.
An important detail in gaining the correct
line is to have the defensive linemen con-

tinue to run/accelerate at full speed. Over the past couple of season\u2019s we have had an increase in the number of offensive holding penalties just by stressing running the line to the quarterback at full speed.

A quarterback that quick sets in a three- step drop or throws a check-off fade is hard to sack. The defensive lineman must take a direct line to the quarterback and at best will only have time to make one quick move. T h e goal here is to pressure the throw, obstruct his vision or knock him down.

Today, many statistics are being used to calculate production grades for defensive linemen. Pressuring the passer or knocking him down are points a defensive lineman can earn in our production chart system. We use these production charts to deter- mine who is making plays.

In the traditional five-step quarterback drop the entire defensive front will now have more of a potential impact as they work together in pursuing the quarterback.

In the four-man pass rush it should be stressed that each defensive lineman has an assigned pass rush line. Each defensive lineman should maintain that pass rush lane or line to the quarterback. In the four- man pass rush there are two inside lanes and two outside pass rush lanes.

Coaches must stress that having more than one player in a single pass rush lane leads to a dangerous pass rush break down. Passing windows open allowing the quarter- back with an improved view of the field. T h i s also provides the quarterback with another dangerous option \u2014 running with the ball!

Coaches should keep in mind that younger players most often will not master all of the five in a single season. We teach these items in the above order by impor- tance. As the player matures the coach should expect the player to master and evaluate the checklist continually.

The Scouting Report

The scouting report consists of several different studies; a player\u2019s video review of his opponent, a coaches\u2019report and position meetings to combine both. It\u2019s critical to understand the type of player you\u2019ll be fac- ing. We ask our defensive linemen to evalu- ate the offensive linemen in these six areas:

S t a n c e :Does the player tip the play? Tw o
point or three point? Wide or narrow base?
Footwork:Does he have quick feet?
Does he cross over? Post foot position?
Shoulders:Does he turn his shoulders
too quickly on wide rush?
Hands: Does he extend his arms to cre-
ate space? Are his hands low?
Head position:Does he drop his head?
Does he lock on one man?
Opponents:How does he handle bull
rush, swim move, rip move, spin move,
wide rush?

A coach will review many characteristics of an opponent\u2019s offense. One, is the review of the quarterback. Several things that I look at when scouting the quarter- back are:

\u2022 Drop:Three- or five- step?
\u2022 Delivery:Over the top or sidearm?
\u2022 Pocket Protection:Will the quarter-
back roll out, sprint out, boot or sit in the
\u2022 Footwork:Does he set his feet and
delivery with good follow through?
\u2022 Breakdown:Is the quarterback a
threat to run?
\u2022 Direction:Does the quarterback
have a favorite receiver? Favorite area of
the field?
\u2022 Snap Count: Will he change up the
snap count?
\u2022 Blitz:How does he react? Will he
change the play when the pre snap read is
a blitz?
\u2022 Positions: Does he play other posi-
tions? Does he hold on field goals/extra
\u2022 Is the back up quarterback a different
type of player? Option quarterback?
The Call

The call refers to the defensive line stunts. The following diagrams detail sever- al line games that we use here at Wittenberg.

Two Man Game
Diagram 2: Inside/Outside (End and
Diagram 3:Inside/Inside (Tackle and
Three Man Game
Diagram 4:Inside/Inside/Outside (Two
Tackles and End).
AFCA Sum m er M anual
2 0 0 2
Diagr am 2

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