Playing Fast with the 4-2-5 Defense


Guest Football Coaching Blog Post

This is a guest blog post on the X’s and O’s of football by Coach Zach Davis,defensive coordinator at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy in Georgia. You can follow him on his Twitter Handle, zachdavis24. If you’re interested in guest posting for Strong Football, email CoachCP at editor[at]

In the world of small, private schools there is a need to maximize your players’ ability and the abilities of your coaches. At Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy in McDonough, Georgia, we found the 4-2-5 has been the perfect fit for our program because it allows us to do that.

We are a school of approximately 400 students in the high school, with 72 of them playing football for the Chargers. It is a blessing to have that many students come out for football, but it presents some challenges considering we only have 6 football coaches on staff, and only two of the six are full time defensive coaches. Therefore, we need to use a defense that is sound, simple and easy to teach to inexperienced coaches.

Basics of our 4-2-5 Defense

This season, we decided to go to the 4-2-5 defense with cover 3 as our base coverage and cover 1 as a change-up. The 4-2-5 defense allowed us to break our players into three position groups instead of four and playing cover 3 limits the amount of checks we have to make to different formations and shifts. We keep our scheme simple so we can coach the fundamentals on a daily basis, even as we progress through the season. Our players know how to react to every formation, scheme and personnel grouping because we have repp’d everything an opponent can throw at us on a Friday night.

In our base call we play an over and an under front based on personnel and the position of the back. I like the under front against 21, 22, 23 and 30 personnel, and set the 3 technique away from the back in a single back formation. If the running back is behind the QB in a 10, 11 or 12 personnel set, we will play an under front or set the 3 technique into the boundary. I do not signal in an over or under call, I simply go over the gameplan with our linebackers as the week progresses and I tell them how I want them to set the front.

We can play two 2i’s in short yardage situations and two 3’s when it is third and long. We have a very simple twist package that involves end and tackle twists, which are used on third and long situations. Remember, we want to keep the gameplan simple so our players can play fast and know their rules, fits and coverage responsibility versus any formation and play.

Inside Linebacker Technique in our 4-2-5 Defense

We do assign the Mike and Will a gap to fill versus zone and iso, but we tell them to read the guard to the near back versus any gap scheme. If they see a zone or iso block they fill the appropriate gap. If they get a down block, they scrape to the next available gap unless the B gap opens up. If they see a reach block, they will scrape to the next open gap. If they see a pull, they scrape in the direction of the pull and locate the ball carrier and fill inside out. If they see a down block and an isolation block by the fullback, they will take it on with their inside shoulder and spill the football to the Dogs / Safety.

If they get a high hat read, they drop at a 45 degree angle to a depth of 12 to 15 yards to hold the seam for the corners and safety.


Inverted Safety Technique in 4-2-5 Defense

Our Dogs are our force players versus every formation. Their job is to force the ball back inside or make the ball carrier attempt a radical horizontal cut. Either way he is allowing the rest of the defense to run to the football and make plays.

Our Dogs get a high hat/ low hat read from the Tackle or TE and they either force the football or drop to their curl/flat. Their eyes do not go to the backfield until they read the EMOLOS.

4-2-5 Defense Formation Adjustments

Here is our alignment to 21 personnel and our drops in cover 3:

4-2-5 defense under front cover 3


under front rules in 4-2-5 defense under front

Here is our alignment and drops to 10 personnel 2×2 in our 4-2-5 defense. I know people will say that you are vulnerable to four verticals and on paper it does appear that way. However, if you get a good re-route by the Dogs and a 12 – 15 yard pass drop by the Mike and Will it is hard to hit the seam throw. We played cover 3 ninety percent of the time in our summer 7 on 7’s and beat a number of 6A and 5A schools in Georgia. Both the plays and coaches know where the weaknesses are in the coverage and we work on hiding the weakness on a daily basis.

4-2-5 defense over front versus spread

Finally, here is our alignment to traditional trips. Our Dog is still the force player to the weak side even though he is 8 yards deep. Our dogs are two of our better players and they must be physical against the run and quick enough to drop into coverage.

4-2-5 defense cover 3 versus trips formation

I am always willing to send out cut-ups of our film to help other coaches install the 4-2-5 defense. It is my belief that coaching is the world’s greatest fraternity and we should learn from each other so we can help our players perform to the best of their ability. My email is and my Twitter name is zachdavis24. If I can ever help you in any way please do not hesitate to contact me.