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DC Dallas Flex

The DC Dallas Flex is based on the Tom Landry’s Dallas “Doomsday” defense of 1958-
78. I prefer defenses that had a long successful career. In this case, the Dallas “Flex” had
a life of twenty years, one of the longest in history. A defense with a “long life” is
evidence that it “stumped” offensive coordinators and this is exactly what I’m looking
The “Dallas Doomsday” was not the greatest defense of its time. Pittsburgh’s “Steel
Curtain” was the number one defense of that era. Where the “Doomsday” had its
moment though was when it knew what the offense was going to do. Back in those days,
teams ran on first down and passed on third. Thus, the “Doomsday” defense focused on
stopping the run on first down and then sacking the QB on third. Its pass rush is probably
the best in football. Names like “Harvey Martin”, “Ed ‘too tall’ Jones”, “Randy White”,
and “Bob Lilly” put fear in QB’s across the country. If Dallas knew you were going to
pass, you were in trouble.
But, first, they had to put you in a passing situation. This was done with a front designed
to stop the “T”, including the Wing T. The run stop defense and the pass stop defense
looked exactly the same, only the assignments of the four down linemen changed. Both
worked great. What caused the defense to finish second to the “Steel Curtain” was when
teams passed on first down and caught Dallas in its run call. When this happened, the
pass defense was only average because the QB now had more time to throw, owing to the
fact that the down linemen were playing the run instead of the QB.
As a youth defense the “DC Dallas Flex” would be very effective against offenses like
the Double Wing or the Wing T. It will stop the run, force the pass, and then sack the
passer. It’s also not very hard to teach and very simple to call.
I designed this defense for leagues with mandated defenses. The most common
mandated youth defense requires the defensive linemen to align “head up” on their
blocker and disallows blitzing. The idea behind mandated defenses is to increase scoring
for all teams. The idea behind the DC Dallas Flex is to reduce the scoring by all teams
using mandated defenses. Simply put, you’ll kill them using their own rules. The
expected rules are:
DG: Head up on offensive guard.
DT: Head up on offensive tackle
DE: Outside shoulder of TE
Middle LBer: 3 yards off the ball on snap
The DC Dallas Flex obeys all these rules. The linemen all have the same rule. If your
man comes out at you, play his outside shoulder. If your man pulls, pull with him.
Otherwise, there is simply the “flex” call, known as “On/Off”. A “flexed” lineman is a
lineman who is three feet off the line of scrimmage (LOS). This is called “Off”. An
“Off” lineman operates from an EVEN TOED three point stance. The toes are even so
that the lineman can pull left or right equally and the stance is three point so that he can

pull faster due to less forward lean. A flexed lineman is always keyed to, or reading, the
near guard.
A “non-flexed” lineman is crowding his blocker on the LOS. Because he’s right on the
LOS, he’s called “On” versus “Off” for the flexed lineman. His stance is a four point to
allow for more forward lean. His toes are also even, not for any particular reason other
than to maintain a consistent stance for all the players. A ‘non-flexed” lineman is always
reading the man he’s head up on.
There are always two “Off” linemen on every down and there are always two “On”
linemen every down. If the DT to the left of center is “Off”, the DG next to him is always
“On” and vice-versa. The same applies to the linemen to the right of the center. Which
one is “On” and which is “Off” is determined by whether there is a tight end (TE) or split
end (SE) to the side of the center of the down linemen. If there is a TE to his side, the DG
will align “On”. If there is an SE, the DG will align “Off”. The defense can give the
offense any of four different looks this way. They are:
1) On/On
2) On/Off
3) Off/On
4) Off/Off
No matter how the offense aligns, you’ll always have two players “On” and two players
“Off” every down. Shown below is how the down linemen would align versus a pro set.

Notice the DG has aligned “On” on the TE side and “Off” on the SE side and both DT’s
are doing the opposite of what the DG does. If he’s on, they’re off and vice versa. The
middle linebacker (Mike) plays two feet behind the heels of the flexed linemen. There
are two calls that come from the side line, either “Red” or “Green”. “Red” means “STOP
the Run.” “Green” means “GO get the QB”.
Any “Off” lineman is always reading the near guard. This means the right DT above is
reading the left guard and the left DG is reading the right guard opposite him. Since the

“On” linemen also read the blocker directly in front of them, the right DG is also reading
the left guard, for a total of two down linemen reading the left guard and one reading the
right guard. The responses are:
The left guard pulls towards the TE.
If this happens, our right DG will get right on his butt and follow him behind the LOS.
But the right side DT will follow him in front of the LOS. You can change this, if you’d
like, to where the DT automatically “crashes” just inside the TE (Dallas did this a lot) on
this pull, or follows him to the outside as far as he goes (“Waggle” pass) as I’ve
The left guard pulls towards the center.
If this happens, our right DG will get right on his butt and follow him behind the LOS.
The right side DT will also follow him but in front of the LOS.
The left guard comes out and blocks.
If this happens, our right DG will instantly meet and collision his blocker keeping his
outside (right) arm free. When the right side DT sees the left guard come out he will
collision his own blocker, (the left tackle) also keeping outside arm free.
In each case, the players reading the guard “mirror” his actions. If he comes forward, they
go forward. If he pulls, they pull.
Now let’s look at the left hand side of the line:
The right guard pulls towards the SE.
Our left DG will pull and follow him from in front of the LOS.
The right guard pulls towards the center.
Our left DG pulls with him and follows him in front of the LOS.
The right guard comes out and blocks.
Our left DG simply collisions him, keeping outside arm free.
In each case, the DG mirrors the actions of the guard. If the guard comes forward, he
goes forward. If the guard pulls, he pulls with him. The left DT reads the left tackle in
every situation.


On a “green” call the “Off” lineman taps the near “On” lineman’s near buttock. This tells
the near “On” lineman to slant towards the “Off” defender on snap. The “Off” defender
will now loop around the “On” defender to get into the backfield.
In our pro set illustration of the previous page, the left DT will rush between the guard
and tackle while the “Off” DG rushes around the tackle. On the other side, the right DG
will rush between the guard and tackle while the right DT will rush between the guard
and center. This is called a “Twist” and is virtually a blitz. You can bet those flexed
defenders will come right through the line because leagues that use mandated defenses

simply tell their linemen to block “whoever’s in front of them”. If they do that, the “Off”
defender will blow right by them every time. The QB will be sacked on a “Green” call.


Using the pro set of the previous illustration, we will now demonstrate what happens
when the offense runs its base running plays. We’ll begin with a strong side trap:

For a trap strong, the blocking assignments are 1) left guard has Mike 2) right guard has
the right side DG and 3) Center has left DG. Their paths are shown with arrows. The
ball carrier is the right halfback (HB). The left HB is sweeping right to pull Mike with
him. However, this is what actually happens.

The QB is now handing off to his right HB but there is no hole in front of him. The
center has completely missed his block on our left DG who pulled with the right guard.
Because the DG is “Off”, the center has too far to go to get him. The pulling right guard
has missed his block also. There is no defender there for him to block (or, if there is, it
will be our right DT.). This is because our right side DG did not come across the line. He
has collided with the outside shoulder of the offensive left guard. This has kept the left
guard from making his block on Mike. All three offensive linemen have missed their
blocks on this play.
The runner must now make a decision of which to go. If he continues straight he’ll run
into his own left guard. So he must turn left or right. If he turns left, our right DG is
keeping his outside right hand free to make the tackle. Further, our left DG is moving to
the right, unblocked, expecting the runner to cut to this side. So cutting left is not a good
plan. That leaves cutting right and turning straight up-field. But, if that happens, he runs
straight into our unblocked Mike. Mike, in this case, is reading the center and, if the
center blocks back, he rushes the first open gap to the opposite side the center blocks to
(In this case, between the center and left guard.).
The play is stopped.
Trapping Weak:
What happens if the offense runs the “trap” the other way?

Again, the pulling left guard ends up blocking air or our left DT. That’s because our left
DG won’t cross the LOS but will, instead, collision the right guard, keeping outside arm
free, which keeps the right guard from blocking Mike. Mike will read the center, see him
block left and rush the first open gap to the opposite side, or between the center and right
guard – or exactly where the runner is going, and arrive unblocked. Our right DG will be
blocked by the center but this doesn’t matter because our right DT is also reading the
pulling guard. He will follow the left guard directly to the play, arriving unblocked, the
same as Mike.

Again, the play is stopped.


The DW uses tight line splits to prevent penetration. Instead of opening “horizontal
gaps”, the “DC Dallas Flex” opens “vertical gaps” for the defense to penetrate. In this
case, as the left TE and LT come out to block our “Off” DT, a gap will open up between
the LT and the LG as the LG engages our right DT. As the center blocks back on our left
DG, Mike will rush the first open gap to the right hand side. This is shown below. Our
left DG will try and beat the center’s block and pursue the pulling right guard behind the
LOS or, failing that, “blow up” the pulling right tackle by driving him deep into the

In this case, our left DG has disrupted (“blown up”) the pulling right tackle (RT) and our
left DT is following the pulling guard. The “vertical” gap has opened between the LT
and LG and Mike is shooting it, and that path is taking him directly to the runner,
unblocked (The runner is behind the pulling guard that Mike is aiming at.). This cause
the left wing back (WB) to completely miss his block on Mike. We have two defenders
in position to make the tackle. Mike has a clear, uninterrupted, shot for a loss while our
left DT should hit the runner one yard beyond the LOS. It is unlikely the WB will block
our pulling left DT since the WB will be reading Mike as his blocking assignment and
not even see him coming and our OLBer (not shown) will disrupt him. Two other
defenders have a shot at the play. Our right DT will be able to slide sideways to the right,
a situation that automatically takes place as he keeps his outside arm free. Our right DT,
although shown to be double teamed, also has a shot to make the tackle if the offense
fails to use this double team block as shown as his outside arm will also be free.


Weak Safety: (No TE) Align 8 yards over weak “A” gap. Key guard. If guard comes out,
step forward and look for the back behind him. If guard pulls, follow. If guard sets for
pass block. Cover deep half of weak side of field.

Strong safety (TE): Align one yard outside TE and 5 yards deep. Key flanker for crack
block or pass release. If flanker releases, cover him. If flanker cracks, come forward. If
flanker motions, take him.

Strong Linebacker (TE): Align head up TE. Post him on movement.

Weak Linebacker: Align two yards outside DT and 3 yards off LOS. Contain.

Corner: Align one yard outside the widest receiver to your side and 2 yards off him. Jam
the receiver’s release, keeping outside leverage. Contain if play comes your way. On
pass, play flats.


O O O 0 O O O

From left to right:

Corner will jam SE then pick up fullback in flats.

Weak Linebacker (Will) has QB contain.

DT slants out, keeping outside arm free.

DG follows pulling LG.

Weak safety moves with pulling guard, then takes SE if pass develops.

Mike blitzes.

DG tries to follow pulling guard or “blow up” RT.

DT follows pulling guard.

Strong Linebacker (Sam): jams TE.

Strong safety reads wingback takes him on the pass.

Corner jams wing, then takes halfback.

Result: QB is immediately rushed from front side (Will) and backside (Mike). All
receivers except fullback are held up in their release. QB should be sacked before anyone
gets opened.



Versus Pro Set

O O O 0 O O O
All diagrams are in accordance to alignment rules.



The outside LBer lines up on the outside shoulder the TE, three point stance, inside foot
splitting both feet of the TE. He now tilts at the TE until his nose is pointing at the TE’s
nose. On snap, he drive both palms of his hands to the TE’s jersey numbers and holds
him up at the line. If the TE gets away from him, he chases. He is responsible for pass
covering the TE.

We want our outside LBer to look like a DE. We want the defense to crack block him
with their flanker or wing back, instead of our SS or corner, who actually have contain.
To the defense it will appear that our OLBer is the DE, our SS has the TE, and our corner
has the flanker/wing. They’re wrong on all three and will “crack” the wrong player.
When our SS and corner see the wing “crack” our OLBer, they both come up and



Our corners do the same thing as the OLBer does except from a two point stance and one
yard outside the wide receiver. On the receiver’s release, the corner comes up and strikes
the receiver hard, as hard as possible, and then lets him go. We want to “knock him off
his track” and slow him down. The corner does not have pass coverage on the receiver.
He has contain and the flats. He is actually an outside linebacker with the talent to make
an open field tackle. He is the secondary force contain. The primary force contain is
Will who is backed off the LOS to take away the slant pass to the wide receiver. If the
end “cracks” the Will, the corner replaces him as the primary contain. If Will reaches the
runner first, his primary job is to tackle the runner or turn him out and chase, playing
cutback. The corner always turns the runner in. Thus, Will and the corner will

“sandwich” a sweeping runner between them. You should test this out in practice as I’ve
never seen this method of contain before.