Football 101
Power base even
Odd and Even fronts

Most defenses will play either an Odd (3-4) Front or an Even (4-3, 4-2) Front.

Simply put, what best distinguishes the 3-4 Defense is the use of a Nose Tackle (sometimes referred to as a Nose Guard that covers the Center). You’re also going to see Offensive Guards uncovered.


Actually, the 3-4 is just a variation of the traditional 5-2 Defense.


With the emergence of the Spread Offense, the type of player that played End was too slow to defend against the higher percentage of passes that were being thrown.  So the End was replaced with a faster, more mobile Outside Linebacker.

Either Outside Linebacker can drop or pass rush.  On a normal 4 man pass rush, you’re going to see one Linebacker on the Line of Scrimmage and one back off the line.


With the 4-3 Defense you’re going to have 2 Defensive Tackles and 2 Ends.  Normally the Offensive Guards will be covered by the 2 Tackles.   So you’ve traded an Outside Linebacker in the Odd with both run and pass responsibilities for an Even Front End with only run responsibilities.


You now have 3 Linebackers. Sam, Mike and Will (Strong, Middle and Weak respectively) Will normally makes the Formation adjustments that the OLB will make in the Odd.

What your team runs defensively depends on the philosophy of the coordinator. 3-4 teams want a larger player at Nose to control 2 gaps. 4-3 teams want more mobile Tackles.



Dennis Launarey

Dennis from "Learnin' Football" is the author of “The Best Ladies Guide to Football So Far” and “A European Guide to American Football". Both are interactive workbooks with over 400 images, ongoing questions, chapter quizzes and 20 activities that teach you how to watch and enjoy a typical football game. Straying away from the encyclopedia type sports book, the reader is actively involved in the learning process. Follow him on Twitter @learninfootball and check out his books at

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