Jun 17, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (90) during minicamp at Cowboys headquarters at Valley Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Understanding the Positioning (Techniques) on the Defensive Line

It can get a little confusing keeping up with much of the terminology thrown around in today’s NFL. Many NFL fans (and Cowboys fans especially) are smart and dedicated, never taking an offseason … off.

Now in Year 2 of the 4-3 defense, every Cowboys fan knows the basic difference between the 1 technique defensive tackle and the 3 technique defensive tackle, right? After all, it seems we’ve been reading and talking about it incessantly the past two years. It’s the actual positioning down the line that’s often a little unclear…

Understanding the defensive line techniques can be a little intimidating at first glance, but the reality is that it’s pretty basic and can be learned and understood in no time at all.

Now there are a couple different variations to the numbering system depending on who you ask, but majority stick to the same basic model below.

DL TechniquesHeads up Techniques

A heads up technique is simply lining up directly across from the offensive player. Shading a little inside or outside of the offensive lineman is not heads up. Much like the game itself, the positioning is a game of inches.

As you can see above, all of the heads up techniques are even numbers. Starting in the middle is the zero technique. The zero technique lines up directly over center. The 2 Tech is over the guard, the 4 Tech is over the tackle, and the 6 Tech is over the tight end.

Outside Techniques

Rod Marinelli typically sticks to the outside techniques for his linemen. Outside techniques are all labeled using odd numbers. The 1 technique (article to follow, explaining the importance of the 1 Tech in Marinelli’s defense) lines up on the outside shoulder of the center, controlling the B Gap.

The 3 Tech takes the outside shoulder of the guard, the 5 Tech on the outside of the tackle, and the 9 Tech on the outside of the tight end.

Inside Techniques

If the even numbers represented heads up positioning and the odds represented outside positioning then what’s left for the inside positioning? Letters of course!

Inside techniques just add a letter “i” to the appropriate even number. The 2i Tech is on the inside of the guard, the 4i Tech on the inside of the tackle and the inside of the TE is called the 7 Tech…say what?

The Tight End

The tight end isn’t technically an offensive lineman so the rules of the numbering don’t hold completely true for a TE as a result. As you can see, the even number pattern remained intact but the inside TE positioning is called 7 Tech and the outside is called 9 Tech. Just admit that it’s strange, learn it, and don’t go asking any questions about where the 8 Tech is and we won’t have any problems. Cool?

Hopefully this clarified a few things for you or maybe even taught something that’s been bothering you.

Do you have questions or comments regarding Dallas area sports? Email SportDFW at [email protected] and you may be included in the next weekly mailbag. Don’t forget to include your first name.

Tags: 3-Technique DT Dallas Cowboys Rod Marinelli Teaching Defenive Line Techniques

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