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By Kevin Gaul, Defensive Coordinator, Colts Neck High School (NJ)

The Bear package has been an effective tool for some programs to utilize against spread RPO oriented teams because it allows them to execute against multiple offensive sets and personnel groupings. Find out how Coach Gual here...


By Kevin Gaul
Defensive Coordinator & Linebacker Coach
Colts Neck High School (NJ)
Twitter: @kevgaul              

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In today's game, we see so many opponents who place a premium on having a dual-threat quarterback with run/pass options. Our staff utilizes a multiple scheme that shows both 3 and 4 down fronts with the mindset of trying to dictate the tempo of the game from a defensive standpoint. In an attempt to combat difficulty forcing the perimeter versus a mobile quarterback, we installed our 5 man “Bear” front while using Nickel personnel. We found that the concept gives us the best advantage to effectively apply edge pressure and contain the pocket while remaining strong against power run schemes. Scheme aside, we believe that the most important aspect of any well run defense is the overall ability to align properly, get off blocks and most importantly tackle. The scheme is primarily run out of a man to man coverage alignment, which we call MEG (man everywhere he goes). In our base Bear look, we play Cover 1 almost 65% of the time and use a Cover 3 “Robber” scheme as a zone based changeup. Our 3 Robber coverage is derived from our Cover 8 variation of quarters in which the SS/OLB on #2 will take outside leverage to funnel all flow towards the middle of the field, where we have a safety or MLB jumping the route with inside leverage.

Personnel & Structure:

This scheme derives from a traditional 46 bear defense used commonly against 21/22 personnel power running teams. We keep our Nose in a 0 technique and have modified by shifting the End/Tackle into 4i’s. This allows the E/T to have better leverage versus a down block from the OT and combo blocks that include a TE or H-Back wing.

Our hybrid DE/OLB “Rover” is our weak side edge rusher and we ask our Mike LB to walk up in this package to become the strong side edge rusher. Both of these players are “box force” players versus the run (discussed below). Walking the Mike LB up to the line of scrimmage (LOS) allows for us to keep an extra safety on the field, as opposed to a traditional Sam LB in a 34. 

The Will LB is the most critical position in the unit. He is stacked 5 yards off the ball behind the Nose Guard and acts as our runner. He plays inside-out as he reads through the “big triangle.” In cover 1, our CB’s are in MEG on #1, while our Strong Safeties play #2. Against a 3x1 set, the weak side SS, which we label the “Cougar,” will bump over to cover #3 to the strength. This leaves the Will LB to be responsible for the RB. It is vital that our edge rushers do a great job in rerouting any RB quick release to help the Will in this situation. The FS, our “Bandit,” is aligned at 10-12 yards and acting as a centerfielder to assist the CB/SS on any Vertical or Post routes. At the same time, he must be able to attack downhill to become an extra secondary support run defender.

Coaching Points vs 2x2 Doubles:


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  • What Coach Gaul does to alleviate the secondary run support over the C gap, a weakness in the Bear front.
  • How the Bear front is designed to eliminate dual read defenders in the RPO game.
  • The “banjo” coverage concept that Coach Gaul used to defend double width RPO concepts.
  • The “Buster” coverage check Coach Gaul will use against 3x1 formations in his Bear front.
  • Plus game cutups of this concept.

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The Bear package has been an effective tool for our program to utilize against spread RPO oriented teams because it allows us to execute against multiple offensive sets and personnel groupings. Week to week we make numerous adaptations to the scheme based on matchups, particularly in the backfield and on the perimeter. While the scheme is not all that complex, it forces you as a coach to employ your best available athletes and place them in position to be successful. The Bear package fortifies the box and provides simplicity on the perimeter.

Meet Coach Gaul:

Coach Gaul is an assistant coach at Colts Neck High School where he has served for the previous 5 seasons. The past two years, he has been the Assistant Head Coach & Defensive Coordinator. Prior to his time at Colts Neck, Gaul served as a Strength & Conditioning intern at the FCS level raining numerous high school and college athletes.



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