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Video:What Is the 4-3 Defense in Football?

with Scott MacKerron

Want to learn about the 4-3 defense in football? Here, learn about one of the most common defensive formations in this sport.See Transcript

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Transcript:What Is the 4-3 Defense in Football?

Hi, this is Scott MacKerron for About.com. In this video, we're going to talk about the 4-3 defense in football.

About 4-3 Defense in Football

As a reminder, each team has 11 players on the field. The defense is made up of players on the defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs. The term "4-3" comes from how many players you have on the defensive line and how many linebackers you have. If you have 4 down linemen rushing the quarterback and 3 linebackers reacting to whether it is a pass or running play then you have a 4-3 defense.

More About 4-3 Defense in Football

In looking at specific roles, you will find two defensive tackles in the 4–3 scheme, instead of a nose tackle. One of the tackles is slightly larger and stronger and usually lines up on either outside shoulder of the center. Their primary job is to stop the run and take on the double team. The second defensive tackle is usually quicker and faster than the other tackle and lines up on the outside shoulder of the strong side offensive guard. Their role is to prevent the run, keep the guard off linebackers, and rush the quarterback on passing plays.

Facts 4-3 Defense in Football

The defensive end's primary role in the 4–3 defense is to create pressure on the quarterback and ultimately get to the quarterback. The defensive ends in a 4–3 are usually smaller than the other defensive lineman due to their emphasis of speed over strength. The middle linebacker is the only inside linebacker in the 4–3 scheme. He is often the defensive leader and is responsible for stopping the run, though he will often be asked to fall back in zone coverage during a passing play. The Strong-Side linebacker needs to play the run and is usually relied upon to cover the tight end or a running back out of the backfield. The Weak-Side linebacker has more freedom than the other linebackers, often blitzing the QB or guarding against a screen pass to the running back.

More Facts About Defense in Football

The 4-3 defense generally uses four defensive backs, made up of two safeties and two cornerbacks. The cornerbacks will either defend the pass in zone coverage or in man-to-man coverage. The free safety is responsible for reading the offensive plays and covering deep passes. The strong safety is usually larger than the free safety and is positioned relatively close to the line of scrimmage to help stop running plays, but they are also responsible for defending during a passing play.

Thanks for watching, I’m Scott MacKerron for About.com.

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