This particular QB Challenge asked a simple question, what are these Fronts? There was a tie breaker added "Why would the Defense align in the bottom front?"
I love this answer because it is so simple and so right. As QB's, we have only seconds to start computing what the defense is up to, and having a bulletproof understanding of fronts, matters. Let's go through each front in order and talk about what is going on.
Here we have a traditional 3-4 Odd front. Now, I gave a clue in the challenge to not worry about the roaming LB's, they are trying to confuse you, especially as your career progresses and you face better defenses. Traditional defenses stem from a 3-4 system, which features 3 lineman and 4 linebackers... or a 4-3 system, featuring 4 lineman and 3 linebackers. This 3-4 Odd front features 3 down lineman with a true nose-guard, which is becoming more popular to combat the current spread offenses. I do not want to get into what defensive personnel package(Nickle, Dime, etc) is on the field, that is a long convo for another day and really doesn't matter for front recognition.
This is a 4-3 Even front. Now, just because these edge rushers don't have their hands down, they are clearly the contain rushers. All good coaches will give their athletes some flexibility on stances, maybe those guys rush way better from a 2 point stance, maybe his hand hurts, whatever the reason, you can't always rely on "What position does he look like he's playing?" What makes it an even is that both defensive tackles are fully occupying the guards, leaving the center completely uncovered. Again, the MLB is creeping up to be an annoyance, ignore him. To get real specific on this front, 4-3 Even S Fix tells me all the juicy details.
This is a straight forward 4-3 Over front. This is the most common 4-3 front as the defense is aligning to defend against your strength. Over, describes the techniques(alignments) of the defensive line, particularly the defensive tackles. They are going to be in a 3 technique(outside the guard's mid-line + inside the tackle's mid-line) to your strength and a 1 technique(outside the center's mid-line + inside the guard's mid-line) backside. That slight imbalance makes for improved gap control against the run game. Ever heard of a "stacked box"? Again, a perfect front call would be 4-3 Over Stack, as that would tell me that all 3 linebackers were "stacked" inside the box.
Lastly we have a 4-3 Under, 4-3 Under W to be exact. Again, the Under describes the technique of the defensive lineman, particularly the defensive tackles. Here they are occupying the 3 technique(outside the guard's mid-line + inside the tackle's mid-line) to the backside, and the 1 technique(outside the center's mid-line + inside the guard's mid-line) to the offensive strength. Why on earth would a defense align at such a disadvantage? You MUST assume they are going to be bringing pressure, they would never just give up contain that easily, I promise #59 is coming and his job is to not get beat outside. There is also a good chance that the MLB will also rush, or a secondary player outside of #59... if you saw our other write up on Zone Pressures, this is a common scheme run out of 4-3 Under fronts.
Honestly, knowing this stuff really does matter. It is the foundation to understanding what a defense can and can't do schematically. If these terms or concepts don't make sense, it's not your fault. There has long been major short comings in the education of Quarterbacks and I have made a living at implementing football learning systems at the highest levels. Our QB 101 - Quarterback's Essential Foundation to Reading Defenses course launches on August 10th, 2017 and I highly recommend every QB over 12 to take it. It will empower your game and you will see results on the field.
Until next time...
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