In defending the run, a team must have a base defense in which they believe strongly. I have seen great defensive teams over the years that have employed the 3-4, the 4-3, or an 8-man front. It was not the defensive scheme that made them great for those teams but how they played it.
It would help if you had a base defense in which you feel you can line up and stop running. You can complement your base with movements and blitzes, but I don’t think you can be effective unless you have a base that you can execute and in which your team has confidence.
When a team is effective with its base defense, then movements can create some helpful disruption. You can use movements and the blitz to your advantage in anticipation of a particular play. Still, it is difficult to play effective defense if you have to trick or outguess the offensive play-caller throughout the game.
Another important aspect of playing run defense is playing situational football. Players must understand down and distance and what the opponent is likely to do in particular situations. The person calling the defenses must understand the opponent’s tendencies in the various down-and-distance situations and must call defenses accordingly.
I have never felt that you could defend everything on every play. The coach must anticipate what he is likely to see based on down and distance and then call the most effective defense for that situation. To stop the run, the coach must often create a numerical advantage over the opponent. The objective is to have the best defensive alignment at the anticipated point of attack and get more people in that area than that opponent can block.
Each player on defense must thoroughly understand each of these elements. The coach should regularly ask the player to recite to him the essential elements in the proper order. The object is to develop consistency of performance by each player so that the defense will be consistent when the group comes together. Players must understand that each of their assignments is interrelated with the other positions and that the overall performance of the defense requires each player to do his job.
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