Knifer and Looper Rules to Attack Protections in Bear Fronts

Mar 20, 2023 | Front, Defense, Odd Front Structures, Pressure, Man Pressure Concepts

By Jeff Long
Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator
Moravian University (PA)
Twitter: @CoachLongMUFB



The bear front has become a staple for our defense over the last 6 years. It started out as our preferred defense for goal line and short yardage situations, but has morphed into a front / pressure that we have incorporated into gameplans on a weekly basis on 3rd down and base down and distances as well.  Today we are going to look at the bear front and show you three ways we manipulate it to attack opponent pass protections.


Bear front pressure is a tool that allows you to create one on one matchups with your defensive front and the opposing offensive line. In pass protection, it limits the variations of protections that an offense can use.  The 2 most common answers to dealing with a bear front pressure are:

  1. Man Protection (Big on Big) – this protection will have the 5 offensive linemen identify and lock on to one of the 5 rushers in their assigned gaps. If the tailback is involved in the protection, then he will sort the 2nd level threats (rushers not on the LOS) before check releasing once no threat is identified.



  1. Slide protection – this protection will be the changeup for an offense if they believe there is a high likelihood of twists from your bear front. Some teams will incorporate a full slide and have the tailback set the edge away from the slide. Some teams will split slide (4-man slide) then the TB will insert B gap away from the slide and keep the backside tackle locked on the edge.



Identifying how the opposing offense will deal with a bear front is imperative to building your pressure plan to attack the protection.  Below, we will show you 3 ways you can attack both of these protections schemes out of the base bear front pressure.