Pass Rush: Get Off, Set Point & Escape

Jun 20, 2011 | Pass Rush Mechanics, Position Groups, Defensive Line

By Menson Holloway Assistant Coach Ysleta High School (TX)

Teaching pass rush is sometimes considered an art more than a science. There are certain principles that make up a good pass rush. Without question, the get off is most important and there are many ways to enhance this aspect of the pass rush. The second most important element is racing to the set point of the QB drop. Both of these intangibles will make most offensive linemen panic. The final quality of a successful pass rush is the escape, which is where all of the hard work of beating an O-lineman can either fall to waste or flourish. With today’s mobile QB, accelerating to the QB is as important as beating the Lineman trying to protect him.

Get off

The get off is the most important segment of developing a pass rush. Most defensive linemen typically key the ball for the get off, but the center is not the only man on the offensive line that could know the snap count. If a defensive lineman is aggressively attacking the offensive line all game chances are they will start slightly jumping the snap. For example, they will go from: Down, color, number, color, number,…… set, HUT….(snap the ball, then start pass set) simultaneously, to Down, color, number, color, number,…… set, H (start movement) UT, snap the ball (and jump the snap). Anticipating an offensive cadence can be a major advantage to your get-off as a defensive lineman.

  • Key: A better key for get off is the lineman himself. Reaction time is very important and the later the initial impulse the slower the reaction time. There are certain trigger points that an offensive lineman may show before the snap: he will move his elbow, hand, knee or ankle before the whole body starts moving. If you use a visual key to focus on the lineman ("V" of the neck, helmet screws, jersey numbers, etc.) and peripheral vision to see the ball you can see both.
  • Focus: Use the long focus technique by staring at something behind what you are really looking at. This will help to see movement in your whole frame of vision. (Please refer to the following two images). 


The Finger Sausage Illusion: Point your fingers together (like the above photo). Next, stare at an object directly behind your fingers - you'll see the illusion.


  • Mind Set: The mindset of a quick get off is not to wait for an impulse to go, but to have to hold yourself back from already running. Have the defensive lineman think of getting off as a gun half-cocked with a quick trigger; as soon as the first twitch occurs, get off.
  • Drills: We practice this every day by doing the get off drill with the ball and adding someone to simulate 1 of 4 movement keys at the same time (see diagram).