Terms, Symbols and Basic Info for Running the 3-5-3 Defense
Before discussing the 3-5-3 defensive scheme, it is important that we are speaking the same language so the diagrams, directions and defensive theories make sense.
- This article will discuss the basic directions we use to make play calls in the 3-5-3.
- Our Right / Our Left
- Strong / Weak
- Field / Boundary
- Us / Them
- In / Out
Strong / Weak – Sometimes the offense is more likely to attack towards the Tight End (strong side), sometimes it may run away from the Tight End (weak side). We must be able to deploy defenders to the side they are attacking. So we can also make calls go strong and weak:
Field Boundary - In football, almost 75% of the time the ball is lined up on a hash. This creates two sides on the field, a wide side running a way from the hash, and a short side running into the boundary or sideline. Many teams will show tendencies in certain situations to run out to the wide side of the field with a sweep or perimeter play, or may run a counter or misdirection play back into the boundary. The field/boundary call allows us to attack that tendency:
Us / Them – Another strong tendency some teams show is running plays either toward our sideline, or toward their own sidelines. Coaches do this to set up certain plays or to bring the action closer to get a better look at whats happening. The “us” direction will attack toward our sideline, the “them” call will attack toward our opponents sideline.
In / Out – Finally, teams will either run inside the offensive tackles (in) or outside the offensive tackles (out). The In and Out directions allow us to send our defenders to these points of attack.
*Note: Since our noseguard is lined up directly in front of the center, we must tag the “In / Out” call with another direction so the nose knows where to go. Examples: In “right” or Out “left.” So a call might be “Slant In Right” or “Slant Out Left.” If he doesn’t get a directional tag, he cuts the center and bearcrawls him deep into the backfield.
Question: Why do we make all these directional calls? Why not just use right or left for everything?
We use multiple calls for a number of reasons:
- It makes play-calling easier. We just build the call based on the best tendency and use it.
- It communicates a tendency directly to the players on the field. Like a clue, it lets them know where the coach thinks the play will develop. “Slant Strong, Blitz Strong” probably means they are moving to the strong side.
- Usually one tendency stands out when evaluating a down and distance situation. For example, in the diagram below the offense has ran 2 plays on 1st and ten from the 45 yard line on film. Both power.
- This coach likes to run off-tackle (outside runs) to the strong side of the formation in this situation. He is clearly not thinking right/left, us/them or field boundary based on the 50/50 ratio shown in those tendencies. So a good call for us will be to slant strong and partner that with a strong blitz to immeadiately attack the side we believe our opponent is going to attack.