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Football Mogul 24



Defensive formations


The 4-3 defense is probably the most commonly used defense in modern American Football and especially in the NFL. The 4-3 defense is so named because it involves 4 down linemen and 3 linebackers. There are usually also 4 defensive backs.


The 3-4 defense declined in popularity over the years, but has found renewed use by modern professional and college football teams. The 3-4 defense is so named because it involves 3 down linemen and 4 linebackers. There are usually 4 defensive backs. However, most teams since 2000 have been using the 4-3 defense, because of its mobility with players.


The 4-4 defense eliminates one of the defensive backs . Essentially, this is a more extreme version of the '46' defense. The '46' puts an eighth man in the box by bringing up the strong safety. The 4-4 achieves this by actually replacing the weakside safety with a linebacker or down lineman.

Like the 46, this requires fast and athletic linebackers and lineman that can recognize pass plays and react accordingly. Versatility is a key as every player can have a variety of roles from one play to the next. It is an attacking defense stocked with multiple blitz packages that can be easily concealed and altered. The top priority of the 4-4 defense is stopping the run and with 8 men in the box on every snap, it puts your defense in a very good position to do just that. In addition, with 8 men in the box (around the line of scrimage), it is difficult for the offense to pin point exactly where the pressure will be coming from when the defense blitzes.

The only major drawback to the 4-4 defense is the potential to give up the big play, both through the air and on the ground. The cornerbacks are often left on an island, either in man coverage or playing in a 3-deep zone.


A 5-2 defense is a defense with 5 defensive lineman and 2 linebackers. The defensive lineman most always line up with the offensive lineman. This defense is often used in Middle School and little league but almost never in the NFL or college. However, the Arizona Cardinals use this as a package in addition to their base 4-3.

The benefit of having a 5-2 is that it adds size to your defense by replacing a linebacker with a defensive lineman. This helps in short-yardage situations where you want to stall the line of scrimmage and not give up the inside run. The disadvantage is in pass coverage -- most 5-2 teams will rush all 5 defensive linemen leaving only 6 pass defenders. In some circumstances a 5-2 team will drop one of the linemen, typically an end, off into coverage. This is primarily a situational defense however, and not often used in situations where downfield pass coverage is a significant concern.


The nickel defense, popularized by the Miami Dolphins (Head Coach Don Shula and Defensive Coordinator Bill Arnspargar) in the 1970s and now common, is employed in obvious passing situations, or against a team that frequently uses four-wide receiver sets on offense. The defense has 5 defensive backs, and usually has 4 down linemen and 2 linebackers. A lineup of 3 down linemen and 3 linebackers is sometimes used, but this is often called a "3-3-5" defense instead of a "nickel" defense.

In most defenses, the secondary consists of two cornerbacks (CBs), a free safety (FS) and a strong safety (SS). The nickel defense adds an extra defensive back, known as the "nickel back" (NB), in order to defend against the pass. A nickel back is also employed in the "dime" defense (see below) and is usually a cornerback, although safeties can be utilized as well.


The dime defense is usually employed in obvious passing situations. The standard "dime" consists of 6 defensive backs, 4 down linemen and 1 linebacker. A dime defense differs from the nickel in that it adds yet another defensive back to the secondary. The sixth defensive back is called a "dime back" (DB).


Prevent defenses are geared almost exclusively towards stopping a long pass. They are frequently used in obvious passing situations, such as a third-and-very-long situation, or to prevent a long score on the last play of a half, or when the defense believes that the offense must pass (for example, if the offense is trailing late in a game). The defense trades size for speed, and tries to ensure that no receiver can get behind the defense. A prevent defense will often give up medium yardage, but makes scoring a touchdown in a single play very difficult. The most comment prevent defense has 3 down linemen, 1 linebacker, and 7 defensive backs.

The prevent defense is rarely used with a significant amount of time remaining, since a team with time to move downfield would easily be able to earn first downs and keep a drive going. There is a argument that the prevent defense actually prevents you from winning by allowing your opponent to mount a successful. In Football Mogul, it largely depends on your personnel. If your linebacking core is great at pass coverage, you may be better off sticking with a formation that keeps your best players on the field instead of inserting defensive backs from the bench.


One variation of "8 in the box", the "46" is not actually a "4-6" defense. It is a 4-3 in which the strong safety moves closer to the line scrimmage to help top rushing plays. The name "46" originally came from the jersey number of Doug Plank, who was the safety for the Bears when Ryan originally developed the defense, and typically played in that formation as a surrogate linebacker.

The formation was very effective in the 1980s NFL because it often eliminated a team's running game and forced them to throw the ball. This was difficult for many teams at the time because most offensive passing games centered around the play action pass. Many modern day NFL teams use the 46 as a package in addition to a base defense. The Baltimore Ravens in particular are known for using the 46 and variations to great effect, as the defensive coordinator Rex Ryan is Buddy Ryan's son. Rex's brother, Rob Ryan, is a defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders.

However the 46 defense is susceptible to the pass, especially if a receiver can beat his defender in man coverage.

Coverage Schemes

In the following, "cover" refers to the "shell" that the defense rolls into after the snap of the ball, more specifically the number of defenders guarding the deep portion of the field.


Refers to "man-to-man" coverage where the defense matches up one-to-one with each eligible receiver. Remaining defenders either rush the passer, guard against the run, or work with another defender to "double-team" a receiver. Generally, the best pass defender (a team's #1 cornerback) will match up against the offense's best receiver. Man-to-man coverage is vulnerable to mismatch situations where an offensive player is able to beat single-coverage.


Cover-1 schemes employ only one deep defender, usually a safety. Many underneath coverages paired with Cover-1 shells are strictly man-to-man with LBs and defensive backs each assigned a different offensive player to cover. By using only one deep defender in Cover-1, the other deep defender is free to blitz the quarterback or provide man-to-man pass coverage help.

Cover-1 schemes are usually very aggressive, preferring to proactively disrupt the offense by giving the quarterback little time to make a decision while collapsing the pocket quickly. The main weakness of Cover-1 schemes is the lone deep defender that must cover a large amount of field and provide help on any deep threats. Offenses can attack Cover-1 schemes with a vertical stretch by sending two receivers on deep routes, provided that the quarterback has enough time for his receivers to get open. The deep defender must decide which receiver to help out on, leaving the other in single man-to-man coverage.


In traditional Cover-2 schemes, the two safeties each guard half of the field, and are responsible for providing help on deep pass threats.

Cover-2 can be run from any seven-man defensive fronts such as the 3-4 and the 4-3. (It is difficult to implement Cover-2 from an eight-in-the-box front, because the strong safety or someone replacing him is usually the eighth man.) Various "underneath" coverage played by cornerbacks and linebackers may also be implemented. For example, "Cover-2 Man" means the safeties have deep responsibility while the cornerbacks and linebackers work in one-on-one coverage. Cover-2 can also be paired with "underneath" zone schemes to cover shorter passes..


A style of defense credited to Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Because of its success, it has become popular with many professional and college teams in recent years. It blends the Cover-2 and Cover-3 defenses by having two defensives backs, usually the safeties, in deep coverage on either side of the field, and a middle linebacker covering the medium to deep middle. Its benefit over the Cover-2 is that the sidelines and middle of the field are better protected against deep threats, with the drawback being a larger open area in the short middle of the field underneath the middle linebacker. Its benefit over the Cover-3 is that it only dedicates two defensive backs to deep coverage rather than three, allowing for better protection against short outside routes.


Cover-3 refers to three deep defenders each guarding one-third of the deep zone. Cover-3 schemes are usually used to defend against passes, mainly those towards the deep middle of the field. Unlike Cover-2 schemes that create a natural hole between safeties, Cover 3's extra deep defender is able to patrol the middle area effectively.

The most basic Cover-3 scheme involves two cornerbacks and a safety. After the snap, each cornerback backpedalsand one safety moves toward the center of the field. The other safety is free to rotate to stop the run or provide pass coverage help underneath. As with other coverage shells, Cover-3 is paired with underneath man or zone coverage in its most basic form.


Cover-4 refers to four deep defenders each guarding one-fourth of the deep part of the field. The most basic Cover-4 scheme involves 2 CBs and 2 safeties. Upon snap, the CBs work for depth, backpedaling into their assigned zone.

As with other coverage shells, Cover-4 is paired with underneath man or zone coverage in its most basic form. The main weakness of Cover-4 shells is the retreating defensive backs. Since the DBs are working for depth, short pass routes underneath can isolate them on a wide receiver near the sideline with little help.


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