The Double A Gap (or Mug) front is a favorite on third and long situation because it gives the offense the illusion of max pressure yet gives the defense the flexibility to use a myriad amount of zone and man pressure concepts.
By Adam Gaylor
Jenks High School (OK)
Insiders Members: Login here to access the full-length version of this report.
From Jimmy Johnson’s Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Bears defenses of the 2000s to Mike Zimmer and Jim Schwartz, the Double-A Gap/Split Mug front has become extremely popular in modern football. A favorite on 3rd & long situations, it gives the offense the illusion of max blitz but gives the defense the flexibility of max blitz, zone pressure, max coverage, or the use of simulated pressures.
The Double-A Gap front is our "Tough" front, most often utilized during 3rd & 7+ down and distance situations. This front is played with two wide 3-techniques and the ends are in wide 5-techniques or 9 techniques. The Mike and Will are “mugged” into the A gaps showing pressure. Based on coverage responsibility, we like to “Hollywood”, or give the illusion of blitz, with the Sam/Nickel and the FS.
The adjustment to the “Tough” front is to move from a “Tough” front into a 3-4 front; the call for this is simply, “Stem”. By doing this, the defensive front knows to align in our “Tough” front and then on the “Move” call from our Mike, move into our 3-4 pass rush front or our “Falcon”
From a pass protection perspective, a common offensive answer to our Double-A Gap front is changing from 6-man ½ man & ½ slide to a 6-man full slide gap pass protection. A defensive answer to this change is to attack the RB side of the formation with read pressures. The strong version of this read pressure is called “Ram”. “Ram” is installed as a 3 deep, 3 under zone pressure.
The Nickel is the contain blitzer from the passing strength or field. The Mike and Nose are in the strong/field A & B gaps, respectively. The Mike is working through the inside half of the guard and the Nose is working through the inside half of the tackle. The Mike and Nose want to avoid getting “washed down” by the offensive line in case the offense utilizes slide pass protection.
An alternative way to attack the protection if the turn of the center cannot be determined is to have the inside LBs key the turn of the center for who is the blitzer and who is the “Final 3” player.
Weekly, we will look at our opponent’s 3rd downs and see at what point they stop running the football consistently. We refer to the point on 3rd down in which an offense no longer runs the football consistently as “The Cut”. On normal down and distances, we are ALWAYS going to be gap sound. However, we look at what point the opponent no longer runs the football, this allows us to attack their pass protections with pass rush games/stunts, sending 2 blitzers through a gap, and/or exotic fronts. This allows us to organize our call sheet and be very specific when the offense hits “The Cut”.
Continue to the full-length version of this report...
Join X&O Labs' Insiders, an exclusive membership-based website, and you'll get instant access to the full-length version of this report—including access to everything X&O Labs has ever published. Plus, if you join today, you'll also receive up to 4 FREE books mailed directly to your home or office. Here's just a small sample of what you'll find in the full-length version of this report:
- The “bury” and “pick” technique Coach Gaylor will teach to edge rushers to prevent the running back from getting involved in check releases.
- What the strong side defensive end is taught to do if he is “targeted” in pass protection by the offensive tackle.
- How Coach Gaylor is able to get a free rusher to the slide side of protection based on the reaction of the running back.
- How Coach Gaylor is able to attack the protection if the turn of the Center cannot be determined.
- The “Stem” front pressure package that Coach Gaylor uses to alter protection schemes.
- Plus, raw and narrated game film of these pressure concepts.
Join the Insiders today and get your FREE book(s)!
As a staff, I feel it is vital that all defensive coaches have a say in our package and what we are running. We have a designated 3rd down coach on staff, whose only weekend duty is to study all 3rd downs. After film review, we discuss what defensive calls would be the best on 3rd down by distance. A complete game plan for 3rd down is finalized on Sunday as a defensive staff. The goal of the 3rd down game plan is to keep our 3rd down structure is to remain like our base structure.
It is crucial to have overlap in teaching the calls of our defense. An initial foundation of the defensive structure is provided to our players. Once the foundational concepts are understood, you can progress to more complex structures and schemes. In my experience, our players love the variety of calls we have installed for our 3rd down defensive package.
Meet Coach Gaylor: For the 2019 season, Coach Gaylor will be in his first year as the defensive coordinator at Jenks High School in Jenks, Oklahoma. Coach Gaylor began his coaching career at junior college powerhouse Northeastern A&M Junior College and spent the 2003 and 2004 seasons coaching safeties. He then moved on to become the defensive coordinator at his high school alma mater, Wagoner High School in Wagoner, Oklahoma. In 2005, Coach Gaylor helped Wagoner to an 11-3 finish and it’s first state finals appearance in over 50 years. In 2006, Coach Gaylor moved to the University of Central Oklahoma, where he served as the safeties coach. From 2007-2013, Coach Gaylor was on the defensive staff at Broken Arrow High School in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where he served as the defensive coordinator for 6 years. In 2014, Coach Gaylor was named head football coach at Westmoore High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. After two years at Westmoore, Coach Gaylor took the defensive coordinator job at Mustang High School in Mustang, Oklahoma. He has served at this position until accepting the defensive coordinator job at Jenks. Coach Gaylor and his wife Kinsey have been married 14 years, they have two children: Addyson, 11, and Cason, 7.