Designating Attack vs. Free Rushers to Defend Screens and Draws

Mar 8, 2021 | Defense, Game Planning, Defending Specific Offensive Systems and Concepts

By Rick Scheidt
Defensive Coordinator
Fresno City College (CA)
Twitter: @ScheidtRick



One of the most frustrating outcomes for any defense is when a draw or screen hits for a big gain. This was a common problem for me as a young coach especially against teams that had success throwing the ball. In this report, I will go over various concepts for either controlling a pass rush or controlling a pressure out of a 4-2-5 defensive scheme.

The most important point when introducing a controlled pass rush or pressure to your defensive players is the concept of attacking technique. Attacking technique in a gap-controlled defense emphasizes using two hands engaged on the offensive player (sternum and bicep) while creating an air pocket for vision in each player’s respected gap. When introducing a controlled pass rush or controlled pressure, it is important to identify the players that are responsible for attacking technique because these will be the players designated for recognizing draws and screens.

Designating which players will attack technique versus which players are free to rush the passer can be communicated either by a word or it can be communicated numerically.  For a controlled 4 man pass rush we use words or numbers based on the personnel of the offense as well as the down and distance tendency of the offense. I've listed the following examples of communication from the military alphabet for a controlled 4 man pass rush:

  • Tango – All 4 defensive linemen are attacking technique
  • Alpha – All 4 defensive linemen are free to rush the passer
  • India – The defensive tackles are free to rush the passer, while the defensive ends are attacking technique
  • Oscar – The defensive ends are free to rush the passer, while the defensive tackles are attacking technique


Scheidt Diagram 1


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