ITP Glossary: D Gap

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From punt gunner to climbing the pocket, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.

D Gap

The D Gap is the area outside the inline tight end, if there is one, along the line of scrimmage. Also the space, or split, between two inline tight ends aligned on the same side. Gaps can be widened by blocks, used as holes or lanes by running backs, and/or targeted by defenders as an entry point to the backfield. As the play develops, so does the gap, either being filled with rushers and/or blockers, or expanding. Delayed blitzes exploit this space between players even as they move. Each specific gap is identified by a letter (A through D) on either side of center.


On defense, outside linebackers, defensive ends and/or defensive backs near the line of scrimmage are most commonly responsible for the D gaps:D Gap

Here, the defense has players aligned in the D Gaps, wide of the tight ends in pass rush stances.

Assigning gaps to each defender within a defensive front helps the defense account for each running lane on a rushing attempt. Gap assignments are also used to coordinate pass rushers and blitz schemes:D Gap

The four tight end formation deployed above by the New England Patriots shows the two D Gaps unoccupied by Dallas Cowboy defenders using wide 9 technique.

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Brian Filipiak wrote this entry. Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Filipiak

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