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Thread: Bear Bryant Numbering System

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    GM_Davenport's Avatar
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    Bear Bryant Numbering System

    The media, especially around draft time, likes to use sexy words to describe positions that the general fan really has no clue about. I'm sure you all have heard words like 5-technique End, or 3-technique Tackle. Unless you have played football, there really is no reason any fan should know what this lingo means. What I want to do, is clear up some of the confusion so you understand what football nerds like myself are talking about when we talk about them.

    Basic football principles say that every gap (the space between each offensive lineman) must be accounted for, and there are different ways to go about doing that. Bear Bryant devised a numbering system, originally for defensive linemen, that dictates where (in relation to the offense) the defender lines up.

    It looks like this:



    Modern adaptations have applied these alignments to linebackers and safeties. As a general rule, even numbered techniques dictate that you are responsible for 2 gaps; the gaps on both sides of the offensive player you are lined up against, and are often asked not to over penetrate and instead "hold" the line. Odd numbered techniques are responsible for 1 gap, typically the gap they are lined across from, and are asked to penetrate through that gap. Some coaches apply double gap responsibilities to odd techniques though, and a prime example of this is the famous "5-technique End" we often hear about when referencing a 3-4 defense. A 5 technique End is lined up on the outside shoulder of the tackle, but in a 3-4 is responsible for both the C and B gaps. Typically this is done by forcing the Tackle to block him, thus tilting him towards him, and the angle creates an option to go to either gap.




    The above table shows typically how these alignments are used today. A 5-technique can be confusing, because typically the weak side pass rusher in a 4-3 is also aligned in a 5-technique. The 2 technique is typically reserved for 3-4 inside linebackers. Outside techniques (6,7,8,9) are typically for 3-4 linebackers and/or safeties.

    It at gets a little confusing because every team, college and professional, usually has a slight adaptation to these alignments and/or responsibilities. However, this is the most general use of the Bear Bryant system.

    I hope this clears things up a bit.

    Last edited by GM_Davenport; 05-15-2011 at 02:10 PM.
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    TKAllDay's Avatar
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    I never played football and am merely a mortal fan, so I appreciate the breakdowns you have been posting. Everything you post is a learning experience for me. Thanks
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