Goal Line Defense Using 'Base' Personnel

Do Not Let Small Rosters, Lack of Depth Hamper Changes in Defense

goal line defense
Colt Anderson #32 of the Indianapolis Colts defends a pass at the goal line against Willie Snead #83 of the New Orleans Saints in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Joe Robbins/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Low total roster numbers, or the lack of player and positional depth in general sometimes forces teams to make goal line adjustments utilizing players from the starting defensive unit. While this is sometimes viewed as a disadvantage, it could be turned into an advantage for the defense.

Goal line defense is the defensive set played anytime the offense is within ten yards of the end zone, or has ‘goal to go.’ Defenses often have special substitution packages or entire sets for such situations, but low roster numbers can force teams to make adjustments using the starting defensive unit.

Installing the 6-2 Defense

The 6-2 defense is a defensive formation that consists of six defensive linemen and two linebackers in the box. The box is the area directly opposite of the offensive linemen to about five yards past the defensive line. The 6-2 defense has eight players in the box. The three remaining defensive players are back in pass coverage.

When utilizing base defensive personnel in goal line defense there are several steps to follow:

1.Align the two interior linemen in a 1-Technique opposite the offensive guards.

2.Align the defensive ends in a 5-Tecnhique opposite the offensive tackles.

3.Align the outside linebackers in a 9-Technique, opposite the tight ends.

4.Align the strong safety and the middle linebackers on the outside shoulders of the offensive guards, four-yards deep. This should put all of the defenders in proper position to get a stop.

Man-to-Man Pass Coverage

Pass coverage at the goal line with base personnel is much like regular pass coverage.

However, at the goal line the defense has much less area to worry about. Thus defensive strategy changes at the goal line, as the team has to worry about defending a limited, finite amount of ground. Many goal line schemes involves blitzes and stacked defensive lines in order to prevent successful runs.

  • The strong side cornerback will cover the wide receiver.
  • The free safety will cover the strong side tight end.
  • The back side cornerback will cover the back side tight end.
  • The middle linebacker and strong safety have the responsibility of covering the running backs out of the backfield.

The 12th Man

A goal line defense also has the added bonus of the boundary of the back of the end zone. It is often difficult for a receiver to catch a pass and remain inbounds in the back of the end zone. Thus, the back of the end zone is sometimes referred to as the defense’s “twelfth man.”

Weakness Becomes Strength

Having the base defenders out on the field on the goal line adds to a defense’s flexibility. Because the members of the base defense remain on the field, the defense can quickly shift into another formation should the offense line up in a spread formation.

Coaching Points

  • Instruct the outside linebackers to jam the tight ends prior to playing outside containment. This will upset the timing of a quick pass (tight end pop, e.g.) to either receiver.
  • Install line stunts and blitzes to apply added pressure to the offense.