ITP Glossary: Radar Defense

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From punt gunner to bull rush, 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

Radar Defense

The “radar defense” is a defensive scheme that was first conceived by high school coach and former Detroit Lion Jules Yakapovich. Created to attack option and single-wing offenses, the defense puts all 11 defenders in a standing position, including the linemen. The defensive players along the offensive line align in gaps, and rather than attacking forward at the snap they move laterally and read the flow of the offensive line. In recent years, this defense has been used to attack the Wildcat, as well as standard offenses in the passing game by creating confusion up front.

In their first meeting in 2014, the Baltimore Ravens were able to generate pressure on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (#7) using this design. Notice how all seven defenders up front are in a two-point stance and lined up in gaps:Radar Still1

Only four of the seven defenders rush Roethlisberger, but thanks to the confusion created by the alignment, as well as an effective double stunt, the Ravens are able to sack the QB:

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Here, San Diego State uses the design to try and attack California quarterback Jared Goff (#16).  The Golden Bears face 2nd and 10 at the Aztecs’ 34-yard line. Goff is in the shotgun with 12 offensive personnel in the game in dual slot formations. On the right tight end Stephen Anderson (#89) is in the slot while WR Maurice Harris (#3) is to the outside. TE Raymond Hudson (#11) is in the slot to the left while WR Kanawai Nkoa (#81) aligns outside. The defense has 3-3-5 personnel in the game, using the radar alignment up front and showing Tampa 2 coverage in the secondary, using the fifth defensive back in the deep LB drop zone in that scheme:GoffOT1Play2Still1

California uses two passing concepts on this play. To the right Anderson executes a deep in-cut while Harris runs a short in-route, on the drive concept. On the left they run a triangle concept, with Hudson running a corner route while Noa runs an in-route, and the running back swings into the left flat:GoffOT1Play2Still2

Before the play, the Aztecs show blitz:GoffOT1Play2GIF1

The QB does something prior to the snap, perhaps resetting the protection or even just making a dummy call. But at the snap, the defense rotates to Cover 1, sending two linemen and two linebackers after the quarterback. The two linebackers attack the left edge of the offense, with the first crashing inside on the guard while the second delays, before aiming for the inside shoulder of the LT:


Goff takes the snap and executes a three-step drop while reading the coverage against the triangle concept. He initially wants to throw the underneath in cut to Noa, but decides against it. Then he slides and glides ever so slightly to his left:

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Goff sees the slot TE breaking open on a deep corner route against man coverage. He also felt the stunt up front that was stressing the B Gap between the LT and the LG. The QB slides and glides ever so slightly to the outside, seconds before the delaying blitzer steamrolls the left tackle deep into the backfield. Had Goff climbed the pocket in this instance, California might have a Butt Fumble 2 on their hands. Instead, they have first and goal. Again, Goff shows an understanding of the coverage, the blitz scheme and the protection up front as he slides, glides and then fires.

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Mark Schofield wrote this entry. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.

Video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass and Draft Breakdown.

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