“It’s hard to block, what you can’t touch.”

There are a lot of different defensive philosophies out there, and each have their own merits.  Some prefer cover 2, some cover 3.  Some teams live and die running the 425, while others will feel the same about the 50 front defense.  Some defensive coordinators will be blitz oriented, while others want to play a read and react oriented defense.  All of these philosophies have been successful, all have won championships as well.  I am not going to talk about any scheme, or pressure system or any particular coverage.  I am going to propose, a philosophy on choosing your defensive personnel!


During my time as a defensive assistant, and eventual DC, I adopted a very simple rule for all defensive players.  YOU MUST BE ABLE TO RUN!  My defenses will always be a “Speed First” defense.  the techniques and strength/power can all be developed.  But that raw, natural quickness and speed is what I look for in defensive players.  Currently I am in my first Head Coach position at Freedom High School. We are just closing up spring football, and we only have one player who runs over a 4.8, 40yd dash.  This player and I have an agreement, by end of summer that time of 4.8 will be achieved.  Personnel grouping with this type of philosophy takes a little bit different of an approach.  For example: players that played defensive line previously are now playing offensive line.  An outside linebacker last year, is now playing defensive end. A running back and slot receiver are now playing middle linebacker.  Our new outside linebackers were previously defensive backs.  Conversely, on offense.  My new offensive line is made up of 2 former OL, 2 DL, 1 LB and a former WR at TE.


You might be asking yourself “why would I take good defensive player, and move him to offense just because he doesn’t meet a certain speed criteria?”   I am not telling you I am right or you are wrong…. however, these are my reasons:

  • Speed is the universal corrector. Make a wrong read? Go the wrong way?  Well we can fix it.. we will change directions and run it down!
  • Its harder to give up the edge. Assuming you are lined up right, its much harder for the offense to capture the edge when you can run fast as a unit!
  • Everybody and there mother runs spread. Speed on defense just matches up better to spread.  Even against a power offense… its hard to block what you cant touch.
  • If my DL can take just one step before the OL can get out of his stance, we have an astronomical advantage.
  • Pursuit and rallying to the football happens faster, more naturally, and more efficiently
  • Fast guys typically can avoid being blocked.
  • You don’t get beat deep!!!!
  • You can load the box with more numbers than the offense and still be confident that any passing plays will be broken up, or broken on and rallied to if completed for minimal gain
  • Run plays can be run down from the backside for minimal or no gain.
  • Talented defensive guys that aren’t quite fast enough can help you greatly on offense, and be subbed in for short yardage and goal line situations


While only in my first 8 weeks at Freedom, I can tell the spring results so far.   We have a defense that is wreaking havoc and causing chaos for the offense.  We can push them around a little bit in the run game, but it is extremely hard to drive the field on them.  Of course, we are still getting better offensively, and it gets easier as time goes on.  But here’s another result.  In theory, when we play other teams, and their traditionally personnel grouped defenses, they will be easier to block because we can get bodies on them easier than we can our own guys!

At previous schools I was at, here are some of the statistics of adopting this philosophy:

  • 3 state titles
  • An entire season with out a 2nd half point
  • 3 years top scoring defense
  • 4 years least points allowed
  • 4 years in top 5 defenses in the state
  • 7 years in top 10 defenses in the state
  • You get the point…  done at 3 different schools with varying talent levels.


While I never claim to have all the answers or have the best system.  I do advocate for the simplest answer in most cases.  And putting fast guys on defense is to me simply, the simplest answer for quickly creating a GOOD defense! subscribe to my email list to get updated whenever a new article posts!  Follow me on twitter here: @thecoachvogt

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