Basics of the 4-2-5 Defense: The Alignment

One of the great things about the 4-2-5 Defense is how simple the alignment is. In fact, once you have your front 6 players aligned – the Defensive Line and the two Inside Linebackers – they rarely have to change.

The flexibility of the defense to adapt to multiple offensive formations and schemes comes, in part, from it’s simplicity. Most of your adjustments will come in the form of your coverage, and the alignment of your 5 Defensive Backs.

  1. 4-2-5 Defense Alignment

Aligning Your Defensive Line

For the Defensive Line, we are using a 4 man front. First we need to determine strength. We will call strength to…

  1. The Tight End
  2. The Side with the Most Receivers
  3. The Wide Side of the Field
  4. The Left

On the strong side, our Defensive End aligns in a 6i Technique (or 7 Technique), inside shade of the Tight End. The Strong Tackle will align in a 3-Technique, outside shade of the Guard.

The weak side Tackle aligns in a weak shade or 1 Technique on the Center. Our weak side Defensive End aligns in a 5 technique, outside shade of the Tackle.

If we were to have two Tight Ends, we would either check to a different front, or slide the weak side Tackle to a 2i, inside shade of the Guard, and the Defensive End to a 6i on the weak side as well.

Inside Linebacker Alignment in the 4-2-5 Defense

Our Inside Linebackers are the most important players for defending the run. However, they have the fewest adjustments to make in their alignment.

The Inside Linebackers are aligned in a 30-Technique, outside shade of the Guard at Linebacker Depth. We teach Linebacker Depth as having their heels at 5 yards from the Line of Scrimmage.

Better linebackers can move up, while less experienced Linebackers may want to move back. The further from the LOS we are, the more time we have to read the play.

4-2-5 Defense vs Spread Formation

Overhang Safeties: Aligning Your Best Athletes

If you are using a 1-High Safety Coverage such as Cover 3 (which I prefer to use as our Base Coverage), your Weak Safety and Strong Safety, sometimes called Outside Linebackers, need to be very athletic. These are the players that Offensive Coordinators are most likely to pick on.

Base alignment will be 3 yards off the Line of Scrimmage, and 3 yards outside of the End Man on the Line of Scrimmage (EMOLS). This will adjust depending on your opponents and the offensive formation.

Against heavy run teams, you will want to tighten these players closer to the LOS, or even substitute with bigger players who are more like traditional Linebackers.

Against Spread Formations and passing teams, you will probably want to back these players up, and widen them. Our base rule with two receivers removed is to align at Linebacker Depth, and split the difference between the EMOLS and the #2 Receiver.

Aligning the Secondary

Alignment of your Secondary will completely depend on the type of coverage you choose.

In a Cover 3 Defense, we want the Corners aligned 7-9 yards off the #1 Receiver and shaded one yard inside. There is some debate, even on our own staff, about whether the Corners should be inside shade or outside shade.

The Free Safety will play at 10-14 yards off the LOS, at the midpoint between the two widest receivers on either side.

If you’re ready to give the 4-2-5 Defense a shot, get Coaching Football’s 4-2-5 Defense eBook today for Immediate Download!