The Defensive Line
Defensive Line Goals
The goals of the defensive line are the following:
- to counter the offense's offensive line
- to sack the quarterback
- to stop offensive players from breaking through the line they form
- to minimize running lanes for the ball-carrier
The Nose Tackle (NT)
The nose tackle is the player in the middle of the defensive line. He stands opposite the offensive player known as the center. It is his job immediately charge at the offensive center once the ball is snapped into play.
PRO TIP: The center stands in an area of the field called the neutral zone. No player can enter this zone before the ball is snapped into play or they risk a penalty called encroachment, a 5-yard penalty.
The Tackles (LT/RT)
Defensive Ends (DE)
The defensive ends stand on the ends of the defensive line. They usually stand opposite the offensive tackles. Defensive ends have the best chance at sacking the quarterback since they are on the ends of the line.
The defensive line counters the offensive line and must break through an enclosed area called the pocket that the quarterback stands in. A strong defensive line will do whatever it takes to break through the offensive line and tackle the ball-carrier.
The defensive line must be very careful not to cross the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped into play by the offense. If they do cross the line of scrimmage before the snap, it is called a false start, a 5-yard penalty.