3-2-2-4 Basics of the Defense

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As a player, coach, and student of the game of football I have watched DVDs, read books, downloaded playbooks, attended clinics, perused message boards and magazines all to come to one conclusion- nothing is perfect and I know damn near nada about the game of football compared to my counterparts. However, admitting this puts my in a good place to ‘beg borrow and steal’ from every source previously mentioned above. The homage paid became the 3-2-2-4 barn door closer defense.

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You’ve heard everything I’m about to say before. It’s part Okie 5-2, part Flex 3-4, part 3-3-5 stack, and part 4-2-5. I came into the coaching business a proponent of the 4-4 G defense. I love cover 3. I love linebackers. I love 3-techniques. I love an alley filling / ball hawking free safety. But I quickly learned I needed to adapt and change with the times. My (read: Hugh Dehnert’s) 4-4 G worked great against the I formation and wing-t teams we saw in Jacksonville and early 2000’s Orlando. But with this slow and steady move to seeing nothing but double-wing option or 4-wide spread I had to come up with something that could adapt week to week and roster to roster.

Stack vs 21

Stack 4

The 3-2-2-4 is called such because of the type of personnel in it. I prefer three true DL type players, they’re big guys who can eat up space and fight off a double. We don’t 2-gap per se, but we also don’t slant into the gap. We attach the shoulder towards the call, fit him up, and make a play off that. This helps us against zone backs always looking for an over-pursuing DL or LB they can cutback on.

I want to see two true inside linebackers- guys that can fill against iso (rare to see one these days) and react to FB dive vs the triple. But my Mike (field guy) will be the quicker of the two.

Stack run fits

Run Fits in Stack 4

With my outside linebackers, they aren’t defensive ends like in a 5-2, they aren’t safeties like in a 3-3-5, they are more of a hybrid between a LB and Safety, much like Bud Fosters “rover” always was at Virginia Tech. They can play up on the line tight in the box or flex out in space. Depending on a simple call I can change this alignment, and could always personnel into a 5-2 instead of a 3-2, or even a more classic 3-4 look with an OLB that can cover and an OLB that can rush the QB. It just depends on the roster and the scouting report for the week.

Stack Flex

Stack Flex 4

The defensive backfield should consist of two corners and two safeties. The corners I usually play left and right at this level, but at the large high school level field and boundary to keep with the idea that our quickest players are to the grass and the less speedy stay towards the bench. The safeties are split Free (FS) and Okie ($). The FS will play to the field and be the quicker of the two. The $ will be the slower of the two players and always play to the boundary, even if there’s a 3×1 to the boundary.