Are you running the 4-2-5 Defense this season? Want to be guaranteed for success? This is a checklist that will tell you exactly what you need – and maybe show you what you do not have – to run a dominant 4-2-5 Defense.
The 4-2-5 Defense is a strong defense against the run, while it’s more athletic Outside Linebackers (or Overhang Safeties) will provide more support against the pass.
How you play the Free Safety, or how good he can be, is a major determining factor in the success of the defense if you are going to be a 1-High, Cover 3 or Cover 1 Defense.
See what you have, and what you need to have, to run a successful 4-2-5 Defense.
- A run stopping strong side Inside Linebacker, the Sam Backer. This is your plugger, your traditional Linebacker. If he is timid, you have no chance.
- A wild man at the weak end position. Someone you can really cut loose. He should lead your team in sacks, and be able to run down plays from the back side. While he may not be as technically sound as others, he makes things happen.
- Passionate pursuit to the football. From day one, your guys have to want to be around the ball every play. Accept nothing less!
- An aggressive Free Safety who becomes the 9th Man in the Box. I respect playing it safe and lining up a sound tackler 17 yards deep so you can line up and play again. I do not think that’s a championship mentality though.
- Ability to change fronts. Something as simple as lining your weak side Tackle up in a weak shade on the center one play, and a 2i (inside shade of the Guard) the next, will help. You can get creative, so have a couple of different fronts each week.
- A simple blitz package to bring pressure. Bring a Linebacker here and there to mix it up. Have at least one 6 Man, Cover 0 Pressure each game, too. If your kids can handle it, and your coaches can coach it, get into some Zone Blitzes.
- A Strong Defensive End who can hold his ground. The weak side End uses speed as his biggest asset. The strong end cannot get down blocked by the Tight End. He has to be able to lock him out, hold the point, and control the C Gap.
- Corners who understand their role in your defense. If you are a Cover 1 team, they’re role is to be lock down studs. But if you run Cover 3 primarily, they need to not get beat deep, and let you line up again. They are pass first defenders.
- A versatile Will Backer will let you get more creative. He is also the guy on the QB, often the best athlete on the Offense, when teams run the Zone Read. Can he handle that?
- A great Outside Linebackers coach. You should be hammering the High Hat / Low Hat keys for these guys. When they are good at it, your defense will be good. Otherwise, they will be confused and conflicted all night long.
- A solid Goal Line or Short Yardage package. At some point you may want to bring those OLBs, at least one of them, up on the line. Good time to do some personnel substitution and bring in a 5th Defensive Lineman or another true Linebacker.
- Speed kills. Put your fastest players on the field for most of the game. Pursuit falls into this category as well.
- Emphasis on takeaways. Get our ball back! Teach your players that the most valuable object on the field is that football. If it goes on the ground, it’s ours. If it goes in the air, we have as much right to it as the Offense.
- Discipline. You need players who will do their job, be gap sound, and be coachable. That goes for any defense, of course, but the 4-2-5 Defense will crumble if players are not gap sound.
- A war daddy 3-Technique who can throttle the running game. He needs to take up two gaps – his B Gap, and beat the Guard so bad that his tail closes up the A Gap. Put your biggest, strongest, meanest stud right here.
- Focused coaches in the Box. If you have coaches in the box on your headset, they need to be focused in on what they are supposed to watch. There is nothing more frustrating than watching film the next day and realizing, if you had only known what was happening, you could have made an adjustment…
- A capable Scout Team. When the Scout Team plays without passion, without heart, and with poor technique and pad level, your defense gets used to it. Do not let your defense dominate the Scout Team and think you guys are great! Have a coach on your staff who will coach the Scout Team harder than you coach your own defense.
- A clearly defined goal. It can be a goal for one practice, one game, one week, one season. The goal needs to fit your program. Our goal this year is 9-5-9, 9 players within 5 yards of the ball on 90% of plays. That applies to every practice, and every game. It applies to every rep the Scout Defense runs, too. They can’t be developing bad habits when they are likely the next man up should injury occur.
- Clear leadership. There are four places, at minimum, where players need to get leadership in football. They have a position coach, who gives them technique. They need a coordinator, who leads the defensive unit. There will be a head coach, who molds the identity of the team. And finally, they must have some leadership from each other. Whether it is one player, an experienced group of Seniors, or some other form of leadership, you have to get some leadership out of your players on the field.
- A short memory. Bad things will happen, we forget it, line up, and play again. There can be no pointing of fingers, dropping of the head, or any other negative reaction. Learn from it, get after it again.
- Ability to get off blocks. Stress to your players that they will get blocked, each and every play. In order to make a great play, you must defeat one block. No college coach looks at a highlight film full of clips of your unblocked Linebacker busting kids up and thinks, “I have to get that kid.” Great players defeat blocks, then make plays.
- A little bit of luck. There’s going to be a ball that bounces your way, a mistake by the opponent, a change in the weather that favors your boys. Accept it, embrace it, and do not waste it! Nothing can keep your team from success more than missed opportunities.
Thinking about running the 4-2-5 Defense this season, or want to refine your 4-2-5 Defense? Check out my free 4-2-5 Defense Video Series.