Sep 8, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Giants running back David Wilson (22) fumbles the ball in the third quarter against Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Nick Hayden (96) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Importance of the 1-Technique DT for the Dallas Cowboys

Treated by many as the red-headed stepchild of the defensive line, the 1-technique defensive tackle is a very important element of any successful Rod Marinelli defense.

The 1-Tech in a 4-3 defense doesn’t search for glory, riches, or fame that usually ensue the compulsive collection of traditional statistics. The 1-technique DT is the blue collar worker of the D-line. He’s basically the bass player of the rock band. He’s easily taken for granted but extremely important to the success of those around him.

The term “1-technique” refers to where the defensive lineman lines up before the snap. Yesterday I explained all of the defensive line techniques here, Understanding the Defensive Line Techniques.

The 1 Technique defensive tackle in Marinelli’s defense is largely responsible for taking on 2 blockers, the center and the guard. With 5 offensive linemen and 4 defensive linemen, someone has to get double-teamed, right?

Instead letting the offense decide who they want to double-team, the 1 technique makes the decision for them by attacking the A-Gap located between the center and the guard. He forces contact and keeps the center and guard from shedding him and blocking a LB at the next level.

Nov 3, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Nick Hayden (96) in action against the Minnesota Vikings at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The 1 tech DT is more than a nuisance. He’s a destructive force. He can’t let an offensive player push him aside and go down field. He needs to engage 2 players and keep them engaged until the whistle blows.

Even in passing situations the 1 tech is often asked to hold ground and push the pocket rather than break free to rush the passer with abandon like many of his linemates can do. Holding and pushing the pocket during a pass-play discourages the QB from scampering up the middle for positive yards. It also forces the QB to throw over or around him.

In other words, even when he’s not doing something – he’s doing something.

While the other defensive linemen are trying to shed their blocks and get up-field, the 1 tech is often trying to do the opposite and hold his blockers while controlling his gap. Because of this, the 1 Tech is the most likely D-lineman to get called for holding.

The Prototype

The prototypical 1 technique DT is stout and powerful with a low center of gravity. Think 6’0” – 6’3” range between 310-350 lbs. with a low center of gravity enabling him to play low and maintain leverage against double-teams.

Quickness off the snap is equally as important because the 1-tech often initiates contact and prevents opposing linemen from sealing a crease and/or breaking free and continuing up-field to block LBs.

Quickness is especially important for Rod Marinelli’s 1 tech DTs because, unlike other coaches, he will occasionally send them bursting through the gap to rush the passer, much like he would send a 3-tech DT. Like Kiffin before him, Marinelli is not afraid to use anyone to rush the passer on any given play.

Note: Marinelli will also remove the 1 tech when in nickel defense, and bring in a different lineman more suitable for pass-rushing.

An effective 1 tech DT makes all of his linemates that much more effective. For this defense to succeed, they will need to generate a pass-rush. Without a standout pass-rusher on the team, it will take a team effort to pressure the passer. Finding a DT that can take on extra blockers will enable those around him more one-on-one match-ups and more opportunities to hit the passer.

The Players

The top candidates for the 1-technique DT are Nick Hayden (6’4” 301lbs.), Terrell McClain (6’2” 293lbs.), and rookie Ken Bishop (6’0” 301lbs.). Later this week, I will breakdown those players and take a look who will be the favorite to win the starting spot in the regular season.

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Tags: 1 Technique Defensive Tackle Dallas Cowboys Rod Marinelli

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