|Essentials of Defensive Line Play
Whether the emphasis is on reading, penetrating or
blitzing, the defensive player is taught sound, basic
defensive fundamentals. These are namely a good stance,
a strong attack - or effective neutralizing blow, an
escape technique, and a persistent pursuit angle.
The Baltimore Ravens believe in the following five
essentials of good defensive line play:
1. Stance Somewhat Neutral
2. Attack Defensive Disposition
3. Neutralize Control
4. Escape Quickness Strength
5. Pursuit Get Your Shot
Regardless of what type of defense we may use, we will
always emphasize five cardinal points.
Breakdown of the essentials of good defensive line play
vs. The Running Game:
1. Stance - the proper body position and weight
distribution a lineman must have to enable him to make
quick powerful movements in any direction with ease.
2. Attack - a players ability to meet the charge of the
blocker in good fundamental position.
3. Neutralize - the defensive blow delivered to stop an
opponents charge in order to maintain control.
4. Escape - the ability with which you control and/or
shed the blocker.
5. Pursuit - the proper path and effort made in
intercepting the ball carrier.
Principles of rushing the passer
1. A pass defense is only as good as its pass rush
2. The ability to apply devastative power to blockers,
to get them out of control and to throw them aside is
essential to a good pass rush.
3. Only second efforts will do the job
4. At last instant, raise arms high and force passer to
throw out of well
5. Get reputation for being hard throw over knock at
least one pass down per game.
Regardless of the technique you use, there are basic
fundamentals that are vital in order to be effective:
1. Anticipation of a pass determined by field position
and down and distance.
2. Immediate pass recognition predicated on offensive
3. Quickness and decisiveness on your initial move.
4. Coordination of the hands, feet and head movements.
5. Try to pin the blocker down quickly and free yourself
to get to the passer (exception: shoulder drive).
6. Keeping your momentum towards the passer without lost
motion. We must get penetration into the throwing zone
and force the passer to move from the pocket divert his
7. Keeping your shoulder forward of the feet to prevent
blocker from getting under you.
8. Keep your eyes on the passer while your hands, head
and feet get you there.
9. If you have not reached the passer, get the hands up
as he starts to throw to block the ball, force elevation
of throw or make him pull it down.
10. Once the ball is thrown, sprint in direction of
throw to block for an interception return; in case of
short pass, get in on a clean up tackle or recover a
11. If you are blocked out of your lane, stop and work
back through your lane.
Note: Working on strengthening the hands and arms daily.
This will make you more effective with your hand grabs,
swipes, pulls, and throws. Whatever your physical traits
may be mental toughness, pride and desire to excel have
Techniques of pass blocking
Blocking uses the rushers reactions and momentum to keep
him out of the pocket. He relies on his balance,
maneuverability and use of his hands to ward off hand
grabs. He is most susceptible to the shoulder and quick
drive, with a counter move off of each.
2. Pop & recoil:
This technique is used to stop the overpowering type
player. It is an aggressive head block from the numbers
up under the chin and recoiling back to position for a
follow up, pop, cut or ride. He is susceptible to the
pull and swipe. Quickness in getting by this type
blocker before he can regain his recoil position is
3. Set & cut:
Generally employed by shorter players often used on
short passes and as a change of pace for the
overpowering type rusher and arm swiper. The use of the
hands in pulling this blocker aside or head faking with
a pull is effective. A rusher should jump or limp-leg
this blocker occasionally. Always strive to get one leg
over the cut block to insure maximum recoverability.
This is a butt block used on play action passes. The
fake of a run to disguise the pass holds the defender
momentarily; however, the blocker generally is over
extended and easily pulled or thrown off balance.
5. Quick action:
An aggressive head block through the groin designed to
tie up the legs and keep the hands down on short passes.
This technique is susceptible to quick pull or jumping
Pass rush techniques
1. Shoulder drive:
Strong surge over outside shoulder of offensive lineman.
It is designed to defeat the rider type blocker that
lacks strength or sets inside too much. This is an
all-out assault to whip your man physically, and must
your first technique because it sets your man for all
other escape moves.
1. No head fakes, pull or throw, but simply a Power
thrust at the point where the QB sets up.
2. Force the blocker back into the QB.
3. Once you have been successful you have forced the
blocker to commit his strength to stop you. He is ready
for the fake shoulder drive and throw off-shoulder, arm
and hand swipe.
4. It is vital that the inside shoulder is forward and
under the blocker and hold your leverage and momentum
throughout the drive.
2. Quick drive:
This is the speed escape designed to outrun the blocker
that sets inside too much, has slow footwork or crosses
over to engage the rusher. Should also be used when QB
does not step back into the pocket to give blocker
1. It is to your advantage to widen your position
slightly or drive directly upfield to avoid immediate
contact with blocker. You are sprinting to a point and
attempting to defeat your opponents poor footwork and
quickness. The ideal time to exploit this is on an
2. Jerk blocker towards l.o.s. simultaneously stepping
away from him on the side you intend to escape.
3. A quick head fake inside your initial move is often
This move is opposite the throw. You are faking a rush
and pulling the blocker that sets towards you or to
l.o.s. it is good against pop and recoil type,
aggressive control or one who gets his head down and his
weight committed forward.
1. Fake an inside or out rush with a strong hand grab n
the shoulder pads good head fake important.
2. Jerk blocker towards l.o.s simultaneously stepping
away form him on side you intend to escape.
Charge the blockers outside and grand pull his shoulders
with your outside hand. Simultaneously with this pull,
reach over his shoulder with your inside arm and
catapult yourself free from his block in the direction
of the passer.
1. An inside head fake is a good combination as it is an
even more effective technique if the blocker is leading
away form your move.
2. Along with the reaching technique, the rusher should
combine a quick thrust.