Introduction - Evolution of the DE
The keys and mistakes video cut-ups for the DE are the longest for any position group in the 4-3 defense, likely making it the most complicated position to play vs. the Option. This position usually has a good athlete playing it (e.g. the basketball player who just came out for football), but Option teams historically have been able to take advantage of the lack of discipline and proper coaching at the DE position through the years.
What we are now beginning to see today is the athletic and well-coached 4-3 DE who can really wreak havoc on the Option offense—as a result there are many plays that are designed to confuse and slow him down. Urban Meyer talked about how much of what they did in their Spread Option at Florida was designed to control the DEs, because they are such tremendous athletes that they can take over a game by themselves.
The 2010 Orange Bowl showcased the freakish talents and abilities of Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn, who just about shut down one half of the field vs. the potent 2009-2010 Georgia Tech offense. Guys that are 6-4 250+ and can run as fast as many RBs are becoming entrenched at the top of the NFL draft and are becoming multimillionaires because of their ability to dominate and impose their will upon opposing offenses.
The aggressive DL philosophy of the 4-3 Defense has allowed the DE to showcase his God-given talents. Instead of being a "contain" guy, the 4-3 DE could really strike fear into the QB by coming down at him hard and following the Block-Down Step-Down rules that OJW talked about in the last article. The switch from the 50 to the 4-3 Defense has allowed the DE to evolve from being stranded on an island to being a one-man wrecking crew vs. the Option when he is coached correctly.
Back for an encore presentation is the Outlaw Josie Wales—big thanks to him for sharing all of his great wisdom and experience with DL play. He is an invaluable resource to other coaches on the Coach Huey site, and he has helped me tremendously over the years by patiently answering all my questions about the 4-3 Defense.