Special Teams Strategy
Special teams is the term
used to describe the specialized group of players who take
the field during kickoffs, free kicks, punts, and field goal
attempts. Most football teamsí special teams include one or
more kickers, a long snapper (who specializes in accurate
snaps over long distances), kick returners who catch and
carry the ball after it is kicked by the opposing team, and
blockers who defend during kicks and returns.
Some players may take the field as members of the offense
or defense as well as the special teams; one notable example
is Steven Smith, wide receiver for the NFLís Carolina
Panthers, who also played as a kick returner during the 2005
Although these are risky, there are a variety of
strategic plays which can be attempted during kickoffs,
punts, and field goals which can be used to surprise the
opposition and (hopefully) score points.
The general goal of defensive strategy is to prevent the
opposing teamís offense from scoring. While doing so, the
defensive players may also attempt to gain control of the
football and score points themselves. There are many
different defensive strategies.
The 3-4 defense declined in popularity over the years,
but has found renewed use by modern professional and college
football teams. The 3-4 defense is so named because it
involves 3 down linemen and 4 linebackers. There are usually
4 defensive backs.
The 3 down linemen attempt to break into the backfield in
order to sack or rush the quarterback or to stop running
backs and other players behind the line of scrimmage. The
defensive line is made up of a nose tackle (NT), who lines
up in front of the opposing teamís center and two defensive
ends (DEs), who flank the nose tackle on both sides. Linemen
in 3-4 schemes tend to be more massive than their 4-3
counterparts to take up more space and guard more territory
along the defensive front.