What are 1- and 2-Gap Defensive Schemes?

28 Jul

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One-Gap Defense

In a one-gap scheme, a defensive linemen has a one-gap responsibility. He attacks a hole and must take care of whatever happens in that gap he is assigned. He is expected to tackle any running back who goes through that hole, or to force the running back to move laterally – that is, “spill” him – into the arms of another tackler.

If the offense is passing, the defender’s gap is his route to the quarterback. A one-gap technique requires a defensive player to take on his man and occupy that space. One-gap defenders are generally smaller, quicker, and better pass rushers than two-gap technique defenders.

One-gap defensive schemes are typically used in blitzes and/or definite pass rush situations. If the offense has strong passing attack, a one-gap scheme is more effective at getting pressure on the quarterback. Defensive tackles in a one-gap scheme are smaller and can penetrate into the offensive backfield more often. In a one-gap defensive scheme, defensive linemen tend to get more sacks and tackles than two-gap defensive linemen.

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Two-Gap Defense

A two-gap scheme requires more discipline by a defender. A defensive lineman is responsible for both gaps on either side of the offensive lineman over which he  is aligned.

His job is not so much to crash through a gap as to read the play and react to the gap the running back might choose to attack, and clog it. A two-gap defender is a “space-eater”. He must quickly diagnose the blocking scheme to determine which of his gaps is more vulnerable. A two- gap defensive lineman is expected to take on blockers head on and defend the gaps over each of their shoulders.

Two-gap schemes require a defensive lineman to fill between two offensive linemen and thus plugging two gaps. A two-gap technique is mostly run out of odd fronts as shown in the image above. Two-gap defenders are generally slower, bigger, and not as good of pass rushers one-gap technique defenders are.

Two-gap defensive tackles are larger and stronger defensive linemen who can control an offensive linemen, allowing the linebackers to make tackles. Don’t expect the defensive linemen to rack up a lot of tackles or sacks in two-gap defensive scheme. If the offense is a powerful run team, a two-gap scheme is more effective at stopping the run than a one-gap defensive scheme.

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