Your Defensive End’s Hat Key Is Getting Them In Trouble
By FirstDown PlayBook on Apr 27, 2020

Regardless of the level of football you coach you are going to be better off if you give your defensive players’ keys. As a defensive lineman, that key is often the hat of the lineman or tight end that they line up over.

Young defensive linemen will initially want to peak into the backfield to find the ball. As we all know this can get them in a world of trouble and eventually they learn to trust the helmet key over them.

At some point in their development however they will run into an offensive line coach who will begin to use their keys against them. In the play below this is happening. The tight end is getting a bigger split and arc releasing up on the strong side outside linebacker.

The defensive end is recognizing the hat outside as a reach block and is squeezing it inside out because he is playing a 7 technique (maybe a 6I for you youngsters).

You are coaching him to get his eyes back inside vs an outside release but that’s not enough. The fullback is on him before he can squeeze the C gap. Today’sMonday Morning Quarterback wants to know what is a simple adjustment you can make with the defensive end to help him out with this?

Check back on Thursday and we will give you what our adjustment would be…

We had several good thoughts this week but the problem we have with most of them is that you are over committing if you slant or “Pirate” your defensive end here.

We would teach the defensive end to read the adjacent hat of the offensive tackle. This way it gives him a chance to always be right. As you can see in the big drawing at the top, it puts him a better situation to take on the fullback if he steps inside when the offensive tackle blocks down.

In the three diagrams at the bottom from left to right, it also gives him a chance to be in good position vs 1. An out block scheme 2. A zone scheme 3. A pass protection scheme.

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