Developing a Defensive Foundationby: Scott BrockDefensive Coordinator, East Central Community College (MS)
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Having specific goals and a defensive strategy are critical to success.
Developing a dominant defensive begins with players believing in your foundation. That foundation is “Organized Chaos.” It is a mindset that you will strive to be the best defense at any level in the nation. Your players need to understand who they are off the field and who you want them to be on the field. At your first defensive meeting, set the standard by which you want them to play. Teach them about what will become their foundation priorities, defensive priorities, defensive philosophy and defensive goals. When they believe in your foundation, they will make it a part of their defensive identity and take pride in being a part of Organized Chaos.
To help you build your foundation, here are our foundation priorities:
We want them to understand the importance of their families. They do not play the game because they love it. Rather, they play to honor that special parent or guardian that gave them the opportunity to play football. We want them to grow up and be great husbands and fathers. We want our players to love those children who never had a father. Every individual deserves to be loved, encouraged and supported.
I want them to be men of high character and honesty. There are virtues that are still worth obtaining and being a man of integrity is very high on my list.
Without discipline, athletes are not going to be successful. They need to stop wasting time on their cell phones texting and SnapChatting, looking at Instagram and Facebook, staying up all night and sleeping half the day away. They also should limit their TV watching and sell their Xboxes and PlayStations. Weak-minded athletes usually have weak bodies because they lack the discipline to improve.
I ask my players and recruits why they workout. The most popular response is “to get stronger.” That is incorrect. I told a recruit’s mother recently that the answer was one she did not want to hear - football is a violent game and players lift to give hits and take hits. Lifting and working out helps the athlete protect their bodies from serious injury (although knees were not made to play the game). Discipline to train and sweat is needed if we expect them to perform at their best.
An education is invaluable. Most young players feel they are going to play in the NFL someday. According to statistics from by the NFL (nflplayerengagement.com), there are approximately 1,023,712 high school athletes who play high school football. Out of those players, 61,000 (6%) were given an opportunity to play college football. The NFL scouted 6,000 (.6%) of them and 875 signed an NFL contract (.08%). The statistics are eye opening – out of the 1,023,712 high school players graduating each year, only 300 make an NFL roster. That means that only .03% make a living in the NFL. Our players better understand the importance of getting an education so they can provide a better quality of life for themselves and their families in the future.
After sharing with them some core beliefs that will set a solid foundation for them in life, I then have the opportunity to develop their mindset of how we want to play defense. I want them to understand our defensive priorities and believe that no matter who we play, no matter how good our opponent is, when we step on the field we are going to shut them down and win the game.
The most important aspect of playing defense is to keep your opponent out of the end zone. No-huddle spread offenses are exciting to watch as they score lots of points, but the team with the best defense that prevents them from scoring will win championships. We strive to be the number one team in the country in scoring defense.
I want our mentality to be that we are going to take the ball away from the offense every play and score. The team that creates the most turnovers usually wins.
Third Down Efficiency
Our job on defense is to attack and tackle the ball carrier on their side of the line of scrimmage. We want to create as many third and long downs as possible, stopping them and forcing them to punt. We must shut our opponent down on third down and get the ball back in our offense’s hands.
We want to be the best defense in the country in stopping the run and pass. In the goals listed, we want to take pride in being the best and take it personal when we fall short.
Compete Against Yourself Everyday
I want our players to take each day and practice to get better than they were the day before. They should work on preparing themselves mentally and technically to be better than they were the day before. We want to learn from our mistakes and eliminate them to get better in the future.
Intimidate, Humiliate and Dominate
Our defensive philosophy is simple. We want to intimidate our opponents by what they see on film, humiliate the player across from us on the first play through the last play and walk off the field a champion, knowing we dominated the game.
• Destroy our opponents by pursuing the ball in a rage, holding them to zero points and zero yards. Take it personally if they gain one yard and especially if they score. Pursue the ball inside to outside on their side of the line of scrimmage taking the ball away by striping it, punching it out or clubbing it.
• Offense wins games, but defense wins championships. In Super Bowl history, when the #1 scoring offense has faced the scoring defense, defense has won 80% of the time.
• If you are not disciplined off the field, you will not be disciplined on the field. Play with discipline on every play. We win as a team and lose as a team, but we all lose from individual mistakes and penalties. Eliminate all mistakes and penalties, both mental and physical. Mistake-free football wins games. If you make a mistake or get beat on a play, learn the lesson, let it go and beat them down the next play.
• Hate losing at anything you do in life. Place high expectations on your play and where this game takes you. Do not be concerned with who you play, concentrate on how well you will play. Great players embrace competition and look forward to the challenge. If you do your job on every play, you will win no matter who your opponent is.
• Knowledge is power. The human brain is capable of storing 2 billion bytes. Great defenses know their opponents and anticipate what will happen next because they know personnel, down and distance, formations, tendencies, deception, space and leverage. Study everything about the game and know everything about your opponent, from their technique to their tendencies.
• Practice with intensity. Great players play like they practice. Practice staying low (first and lowest contact wins) and play with great technique (same foot/shoulder). Practice does not make perfect - perfect practice makes perfect.
• Visualize your performance. Thinking about and visualizing your performance is a powerful instrument that prepares the mind and body to be in an intense state. Concentration is controlling the mind to focus on the right thing at the appropriate time. Visualize dominating your opponent in every phase of the game.
• Be the best defense statistically in the nation at any level and in the history of the game. No one but you can control your attitude, preparation and effort to achieve these goals, but every player has an important role and must prepare to be at the top of his game.
• Our ultimate goal is to take it play-by-play and win a championship.
Organized Chaos allows us to be ultimate competitors. Believing in and having each player embrace our foundation gives us confidence to compete in the classroom, film room, practice, during games or anything we face in life. It is that mindset that when we take the field, there is no doubt that we are going to win.
About the Author: Scott Brock just completed his 28th year of coaching and has coached on three national championship teams, four state championship teams and one state co-championship team. He is the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at East Central Community College in Decatur, Mississippi and also serves as an academic advisor.