Football Defensive Coordinator

What is a Defensive Coordinator?

The defensive coordinator in football is the coach in charge of the defensive unit. The responsibilities of defensive coordinators include leading the defense during practices, designing plays and strategy, and calling defensive plays during football games. Defensive coordinators report to the head coach.

football defensive coordinator


Although the defensive coordinator reports to the head coach, he or she is essentially the "head coach" of the defense. This means that the other defensive coaches are under the guidance of the defensive coordinator. The following coaches fall under this umbrella:

Throughout a given game week, the defensive coordinator will work with his defensive assistants to go over the game plan and to get ready for their opponent. The defensive coordinator will also call the defensive plays if the head coach does not do it. This means that they will set up the schemes that their team will run. Defensive schemes vary from team to team, with two standard formations that most teams run. The defensive coordinator will pick between running a 4-3 defense or a 3-4 defense. A 4-3 defense means there are 4 defensive linemen and 3 linebackers in the formation. On the other hand, a 3-4 defense means there are 3 defensive linemen and 4 linebackers used. The type of players that the coordinator likes to use depends on their preferred scheme.


Due to being the deputy of the team, the salary of the defensive coordinator is often very similar to the offensive coordinator and is only below that of the head coach. The salary of a defensive coordinator in the NFL averages out to around $600,000-$800,000 per season. In comparison, the annual salary for a college football defensive coordinator depends on how big of a school the coach is at. Currently, the highest paid college coordinator makes $2.5 million a season while some of the smaller Division 1 defensive coordinators make $75,000 a season.