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The Most Common Defense in
By Coach Wade

Probably the most common defense in use today at the youth level is the 6-2-3 zone. It has a number of variations, from wide tackle to tilted guards, but the one in every offensive coordinator's playbook is the one shown here.

You didn't read that wrong, and I didn't type it wrong. It's in your opponent's playbook. It's there because every offensive coordinator on earth knows that he'll see that system once a season, so he'd better be prepared for it. In my opinion, no other defense gives more help to your opponents than this one.

Typically, this is the defense required by moronic leagues that mandate the offensive and defensive systems that their coaches can run. nobody knows why this is the required defense, since there are no in-print books, videotapes, or other media authored by a reputable coach describing how to run this defense. In fact, about 99% of those poorly run leagues will require this defense without ever giving a single coach any ideas on how to run it, or how to teach it.

Isn't that cute?

My cynicism aside, since there's not a shred of written material out there on the 6-2 Zone that was published after 1980, this defensive guide comes straight from my notes on other systems. I have adapted the line play of the Gap-8, the pass coverages of the 5-3, and the linebacker play of the 4-4 in what I hope will become a happy marriage for some team out there, whose coach has his hands tied by an administration with the combined I.Q. of mayonnaise.

A system you might consider looking at is John Carbon's Jaws of Death defense, an early version of which is located here. This is a slightly different version of the standard sixty front that mixes two common variations of the 6-2 together. The JOD system combines the wide tackle 6-2 and the split-6 into a multiple-front look that challenges offenses and disrupts blocking.

The main problem with this defensive front is that it doesn't fit the screwy rules that some leagues use. The system detailed on this page is not technically sound against certain offensive formations, but against the standard I-formation and Wing-T looks it should be effective enough.




Figure 1: Basic 6-2-3 alignments



Run Responsibility

Pass Responsibility


Head up on the strong side tackle, 3 yards deep.

"C" Gap

Strong side hook to curl

Strong DE

Outside shade of TE

"D" Gap.Trail flow away through offensive backfield.

Rush passer with hands high

Strong DT

Inside shade of strong side tackle if possible by rule.

"B" Gap

Rush passer with hands high

Strong DG

Inside shade of strong side guard if possible by rule.

"A" Gap

Rush passer with hands high

Weak DG

Inside shade of weak side guard if possible by rule.

"A" Gap

Rush passer with hands high

Weak DT

Inside shade of weak side tackle if possible by rule.

"C" Gap

Rush passer with hands high

Weak DE

Outside shade of TE, 1x1 outside tackle.

"D" Gap. Trail flow away through offensive backfield.

Rush passer with hands high


Head up on weak side tackle, three yards deep.

"C" Gap

Weak side hook to curl

Free Safety

7-12 yards deep depending on down and distance, 5 1/2 players to side.

Read and respond to flow. Do not approach closer than five yards to LOS until the ball crosses the line.

Deep zone, follow passer laterally, keep all receivers underneath.

Weak CB

Outside shade to

Zone pass coverage until ball crosses LOS

Deep 1/3

Strong CB

Outside shade to widest receiver.

Zone pass coverage until ball crosses LOS

Deep 1/3

As you can probably tell, I'm not wonderfully fond of this defense. While it has the advantage of simplicity, it fails to garnish any great mechanical advantages for your players. Especially fearsome against it is the Wing-T buck sweep, which could possibly outnumber the defense 5:3 at the point of attack, depending on how the opposing coach runs his offense. Additionally, because the linebackers are nailed to one location on the field, the flats are impossible to cover adequately. A simple hard fade from the tight end (45 degree slant from the line of scrimmage) while the fullback runs parallel to the line of scrimmage would leave one of the two receivers open 100% of the time. The quarterback can simply roll out and make an either-or decision.

If I were forced into a defense of this nature, I would prefer to run it more as a 4-4 with linebackers on the line rather than as a true 6-2. My defensive ends would be linebackers unless prevented from pass coverage by rules. They would have outside contain responsibilities, using the defensive tackles as pure pass rushers and run stoppers to the "C" gaps. I'd also consider shifting the line to strength, and possible adding a series of slants to keep the offensive line guessing.

I hope this guide helps you out if you get stuck with this system. If you have run a 6-2 of any nature and been successful, I welcome any comments or an article about your program here.


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Copyright 2007 Derek A. "Coach" Wade. All rights reserved.