Thursday, August 20, 2015

Mailbag - 1 Technique, 3 Technique, DL Terminology

Here are a few emails that are similar that I have received recently from readers just like you:

#1 - Hi Bob I know that occasionally you will do a series that helps us lay football fans better understand some of the nuances of the game. In that same vein I have a question for you regarding the defense of line. What is the five technique, And what does he do? I sometimes hear media types like yourself referred to that position but not go on to explain exactly what it means. Love the show thanks for all that you do in educating football fans like me who want to understand the sport better. 


 #2 - Bob, Since you are currently breaking down the Defensive Tackles, I would like to hear your philosophy on what YOU look for in a 1-technique and a 3-technique. Also, could you shed some light on why the Cowboys operate with such undersized interior linemen and seem to have such a low regard for the 1-T. This has bothered for years. If your 1-T can be single blocked, then your leading tackler is probably a safety because your LB’s are fighting guards and centers every week. If you find a 1-T that can split double teams and wreck havoc in the backfield, well, then you’ve got a monster. But, I've heard Bryan Broaddus and others talk about how this staff doesn’t value spending a high pick on a 1-T, and they’ve proven it, not only passing on Sharrif Floyd(not a 1-T in my book) or Sylvester Williams in the first round of ‘13, but taking at TE with Johnathan Hankins on the board in the second. Wouldn’t Hankins look pretty good next to Crawford in the middle of this thing. To me, not spending a high pick on a 1-T is crazy talk, along the same lines as taking a guard in the first round will get you 8-8 every year. Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks. -Rich in Euless


And #3 - Sturm - Please show me the alignments of the 1-techniques and the 3-techniques so I can spot them on television.  Thanks!  Steve


Ok. 3 emails about similar topics. So, I decided to put together a little visual aid to help us along this morning.

Above, please find the alignment locations of a typical NFL defense. Yes, there are several slight variations in this chart through the years with different systems, for instance, several utilize a "2i" and a "4i" inside the 2 and the 4, and then move the 3 and the 1 technique's closer inside still. They also will have the TE as the "6" technique in some systems, but for this one, we will go with the traditional charts that are used in several places.This chart shows that if you line up directly on the center, you will get the "0", directly on a guard would be the "2", and for somewhat confusing reasons, straight up on the nose of a tackle would be called the "5" (of course, in the 3-4 the 5-tech is the DE, but here the 5 is actually to the outside of the T where I placed the #6 - 

Again, this is all minutiae that varies from coach to coach). Basically, in the Dallas offense, the two most talked about alignments which you will want to learn are the "1-technique" and the "3-technique".

1-Technique: This DT is there to occupy. In the pass rush, it is his job to make sure that he makes the guard and the center on his side to go to him off the snap. He does that by lining up in the A-Gap in such a way that neither has the necessary leverage to leave him until he has done his job. His job, by the way, is to make sure that center cannot go help on the 3-technique AND that the guard cannot go help against the Defensive End. The idea here is that you would like to take the 4th best pass rusher on the defensive line and have him occupy two interior offensive linemen. In any 4 vs 5 matchups, if you can accomplish that, you have won. Then, in running situations, this man is able to stand his ground against a double team and "keep the linebackers clean" so that they may scrape off him and make the tackle. If he is easily moved or handled by one guy, then a guard can move onto a LB and the defense is in big trouble if that happens on runs. Nick Hayden has been the Cowboys 1-technique since the scheme change and has always been a topic amongst fans for replacement. Yet, through it all, the Cowboys have stuck with him because in the right role, he can accomplish much of these two main objectives and seldom is blown off the ball. He plays the ultimate thankless position, but he clearly is not as easy to replace as the fans believe. Because to this point, he hasn't been replaced. And to Rich's point (above), the Cowboys do not value this in terms of draft pick or pay check. So, if Hayden is "good enough", then the Cowboys are fine with that unless they can find a better option at a similar price (no pick, minimum money). 

3-Technique: Warren Sapp, Tommie Harris, Jason Hatcher, Henry Melton, and now Tyrone Crawford. All of them are terrific players (at wildly different levels), but all of them excelled at this position under the mind of Rod Marinelli (and Monte Kiffin). In some ways it makes you wonder if the player makes the position or the position makes the player (or what percentage of each should be considered). The 3-technique lines up on the outside shoulder of the guard. Which guard depends on which front the Cowboys are running, but in the 4-3 Over, he is on the strong side (TE side) and in the 4-3 under he is on the weak side. You might recall the 2013 season saw Hatcher and Ware on the weak side in the 4-3 under which insured that both were going to be singled up with the guard and tackle. Either you give them help or that duo was going to get home, and Hatcher did for 11 sacks and $27.5 million. So, the 3-technique is outside the guard where the center can't help and the tackle has his hands full with the defensive end. This allows this player to attack a guard in a 1-on-1 situation and often in space as they try to create for him a lot of space to have a "2 way Go" against the guard. This means that he has clearance to attack either side of the guard in pass rush. They want strength, but even more quickness. Lots of athleticism and a guy who can live in the backfield is coveted. 3-techniques are what this whole defense is trying to feature. They are where you would spend big money or a big pick (or both) to secure. You must have a difference maker here. Now, Chris wanted to know about "5-technqiues" and while Rod may refer to his DEs as 5-techs, they aren't really that. In today's NFL, a 5-tech is usually the 2-gapping DE in a 3-4 defense. Marcus Spears, Hatcher, and Igor Olshansky here. Those guys were never rushing the passer, but rather staying head up on a tackle and trying to stand and steer to help corral the rusher. In this Cowboys 4-3, the alignment is actually often a 7 (a step outside the tackle), 8 (head up on the TE), or 9 technique (outside TE). 

You will hear broadcasters say a "wide 9" stance, which is well outside the tight end and incredibly wide angle to rush the passer. But, being out that far is a mess against the run. When you are out that far, you are trying to set the edge and also make the tackle kick-step fast to cut you off on your way to the QB in a pass rush. On 1st down, you will seldom see DEs out wide, but by 3rd down, they will get way out there to improve their angle and to give more space to the DTs to try to get the guards in trouble. Like I admitted earlier, there are some variations of the numerical alignment positions, but you get the idea above. I hope that photo helps as a reference tool when you need it. 

Any other football terminology questions can be directed to

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