Football is known to be one of the most physically demanding sports in the world, requiring a combination of strength, agility, speed, and strategic thinking for all players. Each position has its own unique role and responsibilities that contribute to the overall success of the team.
In this article, we will focus on one of the defensive positions in football, the defensive end.
A defensive end (DE) is a position on the defensive line. As one of the defensive linemen, defensive ends typically line up at the edges of the defensive line next to the defensive tackle and opposite an offensive lineman on the line of scrimmage. They usually line up opposite the offensive tackle of the offensive line in a three point stance, but this can vary depending on the formation - nickel, dime, 3-4 or 4-3 defenses are among the most popular.
What are their responsibilities?
The main responsibilities of a defensive end are:
Rushing the quarterback: One of the primary responsibilities of a defensive end is to rush the quarterback and disrupt every pass play. The defensive end must use his speed, strength, and agility to get past the offensive linemen and put pressure on the quarterback when pass rushing.
Stopping the run: In addition to rushing the quarterback, the defensive end is also responsible for stopping the running back or ball carrier on run plays. The defensive end must use his size and strength to hold his position on the line of scrimmage and prevent the running back from gaining yards - causing as much disruption as possible once the ball is snapped.
Containing the outside: The defensive end is responsible for containing the outside of the field, and preventing the offense from running wide. The defensive end must stay outside and force the running back to cut inside, where he can be tackled by the other defenders.
Setting the edge: The defensive end must set the edge of the defense, which means he must maintain his position on the line of scrimmage and prevent the offensive linemen from pushing him out of the way. This allows the linebackers to come in and make tackles.
Defending against passes: The defensive end must also be able to defend against passes. He must use his height and jumping ability to deflect or block passes, and he must be quick enough to drop back into coverage if necessary.
What makes a great defensive end?
A good defensive end in football typically possesses a combination of physical attributes, technical skills, and mental attributes that enable them to effectively disrupt the opposing team's offense and make plays.
Here are some of the key factors that make a great defensive end:
Speed and Agility: Defensive ends need to be quick and agile to maneuver around offensive linemen and get to the quarterback or running back.
Strength and Power: Defensive ends need to be strong and powerful to engage with offensive linemen, shed blocks, and tackle running backs.
Technique: A great defensive end has strong fundamental techniques, such as hand placement, footwork, and leverage, to effectively engage with offensive linemen and create separation.
Football IQ: Defensive ends need to be able to read and react quickly to the offense's plays and adjust their technique accordingly.
Mental Toughness: A great defensive end has the mental toughness to persevere through adversity and maintain focus and intensity throughout the game.
Versatility: A great defensive end can play multiple positions on the line and adapt to different defensive schemes and assignments.
Famous NFL defensive ends
There have been many elite defensive ends in the history of the NFL, but here are a few of the most famous.
Reggie White - Known as the "Minister of Defense," White is widely regarded as one of the greatest defensive ends in NFL history. White was an eight-time All-Pro selection, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and won a Super Bowl with the Packers in 1997.
Bruce Smith - Smith is another all-time great defensive end, who played for the Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins from 1985 to 2003. He recorded 200 career sacks, the most in NFL history, and was named an All-Pro nine times.
Deacon Jones - Jones played for the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, and Washington Redskins from 1961 to 1974. He was a pioneer of the "sack" statistic and is credited with popularising the term.
J.J. Watt - Watt is a current defensive end for the Arizona Cardinals, who has played in the NFL since 2011. He was a dominant force on the Houston Texans for many years, recording three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards and five first-team All-Pro selections.