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.
The most common stance for defenders, the 2-point stance, features two points of contact with the ground, their two feet, and is seen with all safeties, cornerbacks, and off-ball linebackers, along with most base 3-4 outside linebackers. The biggest advantage of a two-point stance is that it allows defenders to quickly adjust alignments pre-snap and to easily move forward, backwards, or laterally at the snap, when compared to three and four point stances, which help players move forward quickly off the ball. The two-point stance allows linebackers and defensive backs to both get into coverage and move forward into run defense with ease.
The two-point stance is very common for a traditional 3-4 outside linebacker, where the responsibilities vary between pass rushing, man coverage, zone coverage, and run defense far more than a traditional 4-3 defensive end’s responsibilities, which are more focused on pass rushing and run defense. The two-point stance allows the linebacker to remain upright, with the ability to move in any direction at the snap depending on the scheme and how they read the play.
Defensive alignments that utilize multiple players in two-point stances, such as the radar defense, have the ability to confuse opposing offenses and their protection schemes. Having only one or two down linemen leads to confusion about which players will be rushing the passer and which will be blitzing/pass rushing.
For example, in this Week 11 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers, the Chiefs come out on 3rd and 11 with 2:30 remaining in the second quarter, showing seven men in the box with five of them in two-point stances. The Chiefs defensive backs are showing Cover 3 and the Chargers are in a tight bunch formation on the right.
The Chiefs are showing a double A gap blitz with their two inside linebackers, Derrick Johnson (#56) and Josh Mauga (#90). Safety Eric Berry (#29) is creeping into the box on the offense’s left side. Outside linebackers Justin Houston (#50) and Tamba Hali (#91) are along the edges showing pass rush and interior defensive linemen Jaye Howard (#96) and Dontari Poe (#92) are in three-point stances as 3 techniques. Beyond the assumption that Howard and Poe will rush, the Chargers offense does not know which players are coming to pass rush and which will be dropping into coverage.
The Chiefs end up only rushing four, but overload the offense’s left side by rushing: Hali, Berry and Howard from the left, creating one-on-one matchups with the Chargers offensive line. Poe rushes to the right of the line while Johnson, Mauga and Houston all drop into underneath Cover 3 zones. The confusion leaves San Diego running back Danny Woodhead (#39) alone to block Berry, who quickly puts pressure on the quarterback to force an incompletion.
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The amount of players in a two-point stance caused enough confusion along the San Diego offensive line to get pressure on the quarterback and force a fourth down.
One of the biggest downsides to a two-point stance for defensive linemen and linebackers is a lack of leverage at the point of attack, as standing upright can make it difficult for players to get low and establish their hands on offensive linemen. If the defender comes off the ball high they run the risk of giving up their chest to linemen and relinquishing their power and strength.
Overall, the two-point stance is a useful technique for defenders who need to move in any direction at the snap of the ball. Because of the varied and unique responsibilities of base 3-4 outside linebackers, it is most often associated with that position. Off-ball linebackers (base 4-3 linebackers and 3-4 inside linebackers) along with defensive backs are almost always in a two-point stance, as they will move forward or backward on a given snap with equal probability.
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Ryan Dukarm wrote this entry. Follow Ryan on Twitter @DBRyan_Dukarm.
Video courtesy of NFL Game Pass.
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