Gap (American football)

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A basic I formation with gaps labeled. Standard hole and gap number for American football.svg
A basic I formation with gaps labeled.

Gaps in American football are the spaces in between the splits of the offensive linemen. [1] [2] [3] A hole is a space in between the defensive linemen.


Gap naming and defensive line positioning

Gap names

The gaps on either side of the offensive center and between the guards are called "A" gaps. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] A gap between the offensive guard and tackle is called a "B" gap. The gaps outside the offensive tackle are called "C" gaps. If there is a tight end, the gap outside the tight end and opposite the tackle is a "D" gap.

Defensive line positioning

Line positioning is described by numbers, from 0 to 9. [9] [10] Even numbers are face to face with offensive players, odd numbers are to the side (on the shoulder) of opposing players. If a defensive lineman is face to face with an offensive center, he is said to be in a 0 technique. [11] If he is face to face with a guard, the defender is in a 2 technique. [12] If the defender is face to face with a tackle, he is in a 4 technique. [13] If the defender is aligned directly across from a tight end, it is described as a 6 technique.

Shade technique

Numbers are also used to describe when players are aligned not directly on a player, but aligned with the shoulders of a blocker. This kind of alignment is often called a shade. [14] [15] To be aligned on the shoulders of a center is called a 1 technique. [16] To be aligned on the inside shoulder of a guard is a 2i technique. To be aligned on the outside shoulder of a guard is a 3 technique. [17] To be aligned on the inside of a tackle is a 4i technique. And to be aligned on the outside shoulder of a tackle is a 5 technique. [18] Assignments of 7 and 9 are not universal, but a 7 can mean a player on the inside shoulder of a tight end, and a 9 technique is usually a couple feet on the outside away from any blocker.

One-gap line play versus two-gap line play

In a one-gap defensive line technique, a player is assigned a single gap to defend against the run. [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] He does not have to line up in the gap, but he does have to be able to shed any blocker attempting to keep him from defending the gap. [24] In a two-gap defensive technique, the defensive lineman generally has to control or defeat the offensive player in front of him to guard the run on both gaps that flank the offensive player.

The gap defensive technique is older than the use of the term. In Jones and Wilkinson, when describing the nose guard play in their 5-2 defense, the authors warn that the guard must never allow the center to cut you either way (i.e. two-gap technique). [25] All other defensive linemen are only asked to prevent their opposing linemen from blocking them in one-gap play, but they do not use the phrase 'gap' in their text.

Shoot the gap

Shooting the gap is a term used in American football. [26] [27] [28] To "shoot the gap", a defensive lineman will exploit the space between the offensive linemen during a pass rush. [29] [30] The defensive lineman is usually one of the defensive tackles. The gaps are given different letters depending on their distance from the center. The gaps between the center and the guard are known as the "A gaps", and the gaps between the guard and the tackle are known as the "B gaps". Shooting the gap requires the defensive lineman to turn his shoulders and get past the offensive line into the backfield by any means possible, usually by diving through the gap. The play is often used during a blitz, as the defense will try to rush past the offensive line in order to get to the quarterback and cause a quarterback sack.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Linebacker</span> Defensive position in American football

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tight end</span> Position in American football

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">46 defense</span> American football defensive formation

The 46 defense is an American football defensive formation, an eight men in the box defense, with six players along the line of scrimmage. There are two players at linebacker depth playing linebacker technique, and then three defensive backs. The 46 defense was originally developed and popularized with the Chicago Bears by their defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, who later became head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Center (gridiron football)</span> Position in American and Canadian football

Center or Centre (C) is a position in gridiron football. The center is the innermost lineman of the offensive line on a football team's offense. The center is also the player who passes the ball between his legs to the quarterback at the start of each play.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blocking (American football)</span> Sports move in American football

In American football, blocking or interference involves legal movements in which one player uses his body to obstruct another player's path. The purpose of blocking is to prevent defensive players from tackling the ball carrier, or to protect a quarterback who is attempting to pass, hand off or run the ball. Offensive linemen and fullbacks tend to do the most blocking, although wide receivers are often asked to help block on running plays and halfbacks may be asked to help block on passing plays, while tight ends perform pass blocking and run blocking if they are not running routes to receive passes. Overall, blocking is a skill that virtually every football player may be required to do at some point, even defensive players in the event of a turnover.

The zone run in American football is a running play based on zone blocking.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">American football positions</span> Specific roles that players take in American football

In American football, the specific role that a player takes on the field is referred to as their "position". Under the modern rules of American football, both teams are allowed 11 players on the field at one time and have "unlimited free substitutions", meaning that they may change any number of players during any "dead ball" situation. This has resulted in the development of three task-specific "platoons" of players within any single team: the offense, the defense, and the so-called 'special teams'. Within these three separate "platoons", various positions exist depending on the jobs that the players are doing.

There are several defensive formations commonly used in eight-man football. Defensive formations are classified by the total number of linemen and linebackers in the formation. The three basic types of formations in eight-man football are seven-man fronts, six-man fronts and five-man fronts.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">3–4 defense</span> American football defensive formation

In American football, the 3–4 defense is a common defensive alignment consisting of three down linemen and four linebackers. It is a called a "base defense" because it will readily switch to other defensive alignments as circumstances change. Alternatively, some defenses use a 4–3 defense.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">4–3 defense</span> American football defensive formation

In American football, a 4–3 defense is a defensive alignment consisting of four down linemen and three linebackers. It is called a "base defense" because it is the default defensive alignment used on "base downs". However, defenses will readily switch to other defensive alignments as circumstances change. Alternatively, some defenses use a 3–4 defense.

The following terms are used in American football, both conventional and indoor. Some of these terms are also in use in Canadian football; for a list of terms unique to that code, see Glossary of Canadian football.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">5–2 defense</span> American football defensive formation

In American football, the 5–2 defense is a defensive alignment consisting of five down linemen and two linebackers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">4–4 defense</span> American football defensive formation

In American football, the 4–4 defense is a defensive alignment consisting of four down linemen and four linebackers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Defensive tackle</span> Position in American football

A defensive tackle (DT) is a position in American football that will typically line up on the line of scrimmage, opposite one of the offensive guards; however, he may also line up opposite one of the tackles. Defensive tackles are typically the largest and strongest of the defensive players. Depending on a team's individual defensive scheme, a defensive tackle may be called upon to fill several different roles. These roles may include merely holding the point of attack by refusing to be moved, or penetrating a certain gap between offensive linemen to break up a play in the opponent's backfield. If a defensive tackle reads a pass play, his primary responsibility is to pursue the quarterback, or simply knock the pass down at the line if it is within arm's reach. Other responsibilities of the defensive tackle may be to pursue the screen pass or drop into coverage in a zone blitz scheme. In a traditional 4–3 defense, there is no nose tackle. Instead there is a left and right defensive tackle. Some teams, especially in the National Football League (NFL), have a nose tackle in this scheme, but most of them do not.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">7–2–2 defense</span> American football defensive formation

The 7–2–2 defense or seven-box defense, used seven "down linemen", or players on the line of scrimmage at the time of the snap, two linebackers, and two safeties. Amos Alonzo Stagg invented the seven-box defense in 1890 at Springfield College. At that time, most teams were using a nine-man line on defense, and there were only three downs and no forward passes. The 7–2–2 was the base defense used by Knute Rockne at Notre Dame, as well as Mike Donahue at Auburn. Into the late 1930s, the 7–2–2 was still commonly employed inside the defender's thirty-yard line. It was considered "very strong against a running attack, but rather weak defensively against passes." The 7–2–2 was also employed when the opponent was expected to punt.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Miami 4–3 defense</span> Defensive formation in American football made famous by coach Jimmy Johnson

The Miami 4–3, also called the 4–lslide, is a scheme closely associated with the Jimmy Johnson-led Miami Hurricanes, and taken by Johnson to the Dallas Cowboys. Built around Jimmy Johnson's notion of "upfield pressure", it is a penetrating, swarming defense, with a "get there firstest with the mostest" mentality. The focus is to cause opponents to make mistakes, even if the defense might give up a big gain or two. Compared to older 4–3 defenses, such as Tom Landry's 4–3 inside, the defensive line assignments are simpler. Linemen don't read then react, they act then read. Linebackers fill the gaps the linemen leave behind, ignoring gaps away from the play. Coverages are simple, and the playbook small and easy to learn.

In American football, the 6–2 defense is a defensive alignment consisting of six down linemen and two linebackers.


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