By Kenny Ratledge
Gatlinburg-Pittman High School (TN)
Before a team can design a goal line defensive package it must first decide where the red zone starts. What yard line is the point of demarcation? Some teams look at the -10 as that point. Others see the -5 or even the -3 as that point. Also, the offense’s personnel grouping must be a deciding factor. The use of 00, 10, 11, or 12 personnel limits the defense’s ability to get more size and defensive linemen into the game.
The package explored here is fashioned for a back and tight end heavy personnel groupings such as 22, 23, 30, 31, and 32 personnel combinations. The point of contention we are using is the -5 yard line. An added point here is that the Heavy package can be used against loaded offensive personnel groupings on other parts of the field. Its flexibility allows it to be more than a red zone defense. We base out of a 4-3 quarters coverage system. To get into the Heavy package we insert an extra defensive lineman and take out a defensive back. This gives us a 5-3-3 configuration. On the back end we can choose to play two corners and one safety or we can decide to play with three safeties considering our corners are more suited to play man coverage and, as a result, are not inherently good run defenders.
Diagram 1 shows Heavy personnel.
Those positions include:
- ST: Stud (defensive end to the call. 9 technique)
- T: Tackles (right and left tackles who play 3 techniques)
- N: Nose (0 technique)
- E: End (defensive end to the weak side. 9 technique)
- S: Sam (strong side outside linebacker. 50 alignment)
- M: Mike (middle linebacker. Stack with the Nose. He may shade to the strong side in a 10 alignment)
- W: Will (weak outside linebacker. 50 alignment)
- C: Corners (right and left corners. Possible flip flop to get the best run defender of the two to the strength of the formation)
- SS: Strong Safety
The base call in this package is Heavy Cover 0. This is shown in Diagram 1. With the base call the tackles align in 3 techniques and the ends line up in 9 techniques. We do have the capability to shade the Nose with a Strong or Weak Heavy call. The ends, as a changeup, line up in 7 techniques with a Heavy 7 call. With a Cover 0 call the corners take #1 to their side man to man and the Strong Safety is responsible for #2 to the strength. The outside linebackers, Sam and Will, take a back releasing to their side.