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Defensive Line Tech Alignments and Gap Assignments



Continuing what we started last week with personnel and coverages, we are going a little more in-depth this week. This week is all about the defensive line tech alignments and gap responsibilities. A defensive line alignment, also known as a technique or tech, is a position labeled with a number zero through nine (excluding eight). The numbers are associated with where they line up opposite the offensive linemen. Guards and Tight Ends have three techniques that can play against them, Tackles have two, and Centers have one.

Interior Defensive Line Tech Alignments

Each side of the line has all of the techniques, zero through nine. There is only one technique that lines up across the Center, the zero tech. Next comes the Guard, they have three techniques associated with them – one, two, and three. Both sides left and right, have the same number values associated with them. The one tech plays on the inside shoulder of the guard. (This is Star Lotulelei’s role.) The inside shoulder is the one closest to the center. A two-tech is playing head upon the Guard. Finally, a three tech is playing on the outside shoulder of the guard, meaning they line up closer to the guard but, in between the guard and tackle. These techniques pertain to defensive tackles more than ends because ends are lining up in outside techniques using numbers four through nine.

Defensive End Tech Alignments

Defensive Ends will line up on the Tackles and Tight Ends; that’s where the other techniques are used. Starting with lining up on the tackles they are assigned values four and five. A four tech DE lines up head up on the tackle. For a five-technique, the end would line up on the outside shoulder of the Tackle. This means they would be the player on the end of the line if there is no tight end. If there is a tight end present then the six, seven, and nine techniques come out. For a six tech, the end would line up right over the Tight End; for seven he would play on the inside shoulder of the Tight End. The final technique is a nine, this is the outside most person on the line and they play outside of the Tight End.

Where are the Gaps?

Defensive gap responsibility is as follows, each hole between linemen is assigned a letter. The gaps on each side between the Center and Guards are the A-gaps. In between the Guards and Tackles is the B-gap, outside the tackles is the C-gap. If a Tight End is present then a D-gap also exists, the D-gap is outside the Tight End. The job of each defensive lineman is to make sure nothing goes through their designated gap on any given play.

A-gap and B-gap

For the A-gaps there will be a Defensive Tackle and a Linebacker assigned to them. The Defensive Tackle closest to the Center fills the A-gap. The Middle Linebacker takes the other side. B-gap is pretty much the same just one increment farther out. So, the Defensive Tackle lined up between the Guard and Tackle will take that side’s B-gap and another Linebacker will take the other one.

Outside Gap Responsibility

Defensive Ends and Outside Linebackers are responsible for the C and D-gaps. C-gap is playing outside of the Tackles if there is no Tight End, then normally both Defensive Ends will be responsible for these holes. If there is a Tight End, then one Defensive End will bump out and play in the D-gap. In this case, the C-gap assignment is picked up by the Outside Linebacker.

Next week we will focus on stunts and blitzes. Keep the comments and suggestions coming for future topics.