Free Defensive End Techniques
In football, no position on the defensive side of the field might be as important as the defensive end. The defensive end can alter the course of the game and change the opponent's strategy if he can pressure the quarterback. The defensive also must be able to stop the run consistently.
The speed rush is one of the most explosive moves a defensive end can have on the football field. If the right defensive end lines up 2 yards outside of the left tackle and has a burst of speed, he might be able to get to the quarterback before he completes his setup in the pocket. In order to perform this move, the end must dip his inside shoulder and get it underneath the left tackle who is attempting to block him. Once you are even with the tackle, you stay low until you are within one step of the quarterback and then you drive your shoulder into his chest.
In order to confuse the offensive tackle, an athletic defensive end can perform the spin move. With this move, the defensive end will take two steps toward the quarterback and then when the tackle engages him to block, the defensive end spins 360 degrees to keep the offensive tackle from blocking him. This move might make the offensive tackle lose his bearings and could leave the defensive end with a clear path to the quarterback. This was the favored move of Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith, who played for the Buffalo Bills.
This move is for defensive ends with dominating strength. When you perform the forklift move, you want to take an explosive first step into the chest of the offensive tackle. As you make contact, you extend your arms in an explosive upward move to lift the tackle off the ground. This is similar to the way a forklift works in a factory. If you do this on a running play, you can drop the tackle into the path of the oncoming running back. If you do it on a passing play, you might be able to toss the blocker at his own quarterback. This was the favorite move of Hall of Famer Reggie White, who dominated the game with his strength while playing for the Eagles and the Packers.
This is a derivation of the head slap move that was perfected by Los Angeles Rams defensive end Deacon Jones during the 1960s. Jones would slap the helmet of the opposing offensive tackle with his left arm and then his right arm and run by him after the tackle lost his balance. While the head slap is no longer legal in the NFL, defensive ends use the move on the opposing tackle's shoulder pads to drive him off balance. This gives the defensive end the edge he needs to get to the quarterback.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.