Analyzing the 3 Technique’s Technique


Coaches, I was taking a look through some All-22 film the other day, and I came across probably one of the best illustrations as to why the 3 technique is an important piece to the under front defense, or really any defense where he exists. Keep reading to find out how the 3 techniques quick recognition of his visual and pressure keys enabled him to utterly dominate this inside zone play.

In my previous post on the 4 most important aspects of the under front defense, the Will linebacker and the tandem were highlighted. The 3 technique in the under front is added by the fact that he is part of this “tandem”. A tandem occurs when their are two outside shaded defenders on the two offensive end men on the line of scrimmage.

3 Technique’s Technique Breakdown

In the image below, we see the defense lined up in the traditional under front from their 3-4 defense personnel package. The Will linebacker is in a loose 30 technique, meaning he is stacked over the 3 technique. This helps protect him from offensive linemen, as we’re about to see. However, I think the 3 technique here himself does and excellent job dumping the zone scoop.

3 Technique Under Front Defense

Colts in the Under Front

Illustrated below is the backside of the inside zone blocking scheme. The fullback is responsible for the outside linebacker/defensive end, the two offensive linemen on the weakside of the formation (so the left tackle and left guard) are zone scooping through to the Will linebacker. The guard has leverage on him, at least pre-snap.

zone scoop versus 3 technique


3 technique versus first stepHere we see the start of the play. We can see that the 3 technique has realized what’s going on given his visual and pressure keys. The 3 technique defensive tackle’s visual key, probably the near knee, screws of the helmet, or v of the neck on the offensive guard, tell him the player is either working to the next level or scooping him. However, his pressure key hasn’t told him a down block is coming from the tackle, so he needs to squeeze down with the guard (which he should be doing given block down – step down rules), but notice the 3 technique’s outside arm reaching for the outside of the guard. Aside: Learn more about how defensive line drills here.

Now here’s where it gets juicy and we see the results of the technique. The 3 technique gets the guards shoulders turned with his own outside arm. He then gets his head and outside shoulder into the gap, ensuring (1) that there is no lane for the back (2) he has a chance to split the zone scoop, (3) that the tackle won’t be able to reach him and most importantly (4) that the guard has little chance of catching the athletic Will linebacker, who, as you can see from my diagram, is already pursuing his open gap.

3 technique and will linebacker in the under front defense

Here’s what’s nasty. We see an illegal high-low or chop block by the left guard and tackle, though the tackle could have been tripped up by the fullback cutting the outside linebacker. Regardless, the tackle falls over, and the guard’s butt is turned. This makes the hole appear open to the runningback, all thanks to the 3 techniques identification and reaction to the play. Also, notice here that the playside guard is coming all the way back to the Will linebacker. The playside inside linebacker is unaccounted for to the frontside (#53). The back sees this, and realizes his best opportunity is to bounce it outside rather then bend it back.

3 technique

Notice the guard’s shoulders turned

This play eventually get’s strung out for a 1 yard loss, with the tackle being made by the playside inside because the playside guard took the  easy way out and blocked the backside (unblocked) Will linebacker, who was unaccounted for by the zone scoop thanks to the 3 technique’s quick reaction and sound technique.

I hope you enjoyed this breakdown of some fantastic technique. I was motivated to write this by watching some absolutely horrible youth coaching the other day where a friend of my family is being coached. The fundamentals were terrible, so I wanted to find a play that highlighted how a sound fundamental shut down a play, even at the NFL level.