Defense in Football:

The defensive unit does not start the play with the ball. Their job is to stop the opposing team’s offensive unit from moving the ball down the field and scoring points. The best way to do this? Take the ball away from them. This can be done by catching a pass meant for the offense or taking the ball away from an offensive player (causing and recovering a fumble). If they do not do that, then they attempt to tackle the player with the ball as quickly as possible and prevent him from progress towards the end zone.

The defensive player positions include the defensive line, the linebackers and the defensive backs.

The defensive line is a bit like the offensive line except they are generally faster as they are not just trying to block but are trying to get around the offensive line to tackle the guy with the ball. The line positions include the nose tackle (generally the center of the line and lines up across from the center on the offensive line), the tackles and the ends. Depending on how the defense is planning on defending a play, there may be 3-5 defensive linemen.

The linebackers on defense typically play in between the defensive line and the defensive backs. Typically, means just that, not all the time. There are many defensive plays where players play further forward and further back than normal. The linebackers primarily guard against stopping the offensive team’s running plays and short passes.

The defensive backs are the cornerbacks and the safeties. Usually there are 2 of each on the field at a time, but not always. Cornerbacks have direct responsibility to defend wide receivers from catching the ball and safeties have indirect responsibility to do the same. Plus, a safety is just what the name implies. They are typically the furthest guy back on the field and are the last player to have an opportunity to stop the offense if they get past everyone else. Now, cornerbacks and safeties do a whole lot of other things on the field. They have many different formations and responsibilities change in each type of defense. Check out the details section for topics such as nickelbacks, dimebacks, cover 2, cover 3, Tampa 2, safety blitz, etc.

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