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Understanding Formations: 43 Defense

Last night I written about the 46 defense. I thought it would be a good idea to write about all different formations in a series of post over the next few days or weeks. I will be effectively giving this series a name by parts called Understanding Formations. I'm not a football genius but I played enough football to understand the concepts. Also someone correct me if I'm wrong about something.


In this defensive formation, there are four linemen, three linebackers, two safeties, and two cornerbacks.

Like the 46, in theory the 43 defense doesn't have a nose tackle but I refer to that name to leave out confusion. Ideally it would be great if a team have a nose tackle over 300 pounds playing to fill up the gaps at the line and cause double teams. The other lineman usually referred to as the defensive tackle in the 43 need to have the ability to be ready to dash through the gap that is created by the NT.

The defensive end's primary duty is to create quick pressure and to defend runs to the outside. The defensive ends are usually smaller that the DT because the amount of speed required to beat the offensive tackles. Strength like any other part of the line is important to shed off offensive linemen to get to where the ball is at. Although super strength is not required. It's big plus in finding a quick strong defensive end.

Linebackers in the 43 defense are the middle (Mike), strong-side (Sam), weak-side (Will). These players are lined up next to each other behind the linemen The Mike linebacker must be smart enough to play the game because he is the QB of the defense. He must be the best tackler on the team because the Mike has maybe the hardest job on the field having to assist the line and protecting some breaking a long run. The Mike when playing Zone has to protect the field 10-20 yards out. The Will linebacker is usually the one that does the most blitzing. The Will must have speed to defend against the screen. The Sam has to be stout in the run. He also is the one guarding tight ends the most. So having coverage skills is a must for the Sam.


In the defensive backfield. There are the free (FS) and strong safeties (SS). The FS is the one that is mostly in coverage. He guards the middle of the field from long passes. The free safety also must provide run defense. This is the most instinctive and smallest player on the defense. If he cannot read coverages. He has no business playing football. The SS is normally larger than the FS. SS need to be strong because they deal with the tight ends plus also defending the strong-side against the run.


There are two cornerbacks. Cornerbacks are usually at their best in the 43 defense while playing man coverage. By allowing the them to jam receivers within 5 yards of the line can throw the route off and cause one of the other defensive players who are playing in zone coverage in disguise make a play at the ball causing interceptions. The 43 is very good at protecting the middle of the field but risky at the sideline if you don't have great corners.

The 43 defense is ideal formation in football because so many packages and strategies you can come up with. 43 is stout against the run because of the big men up front and the 3 linebacker for run support. The only corcern with the 43 is that the sideline can be very vulnerable at times against the pass. If a team do not have good linebacker in coverage then this defense is not suited for the team

I don't think our defense is suited for a base 43 defense yet but I would feel confident we will be next year when this year rookies get settled into their rolls.

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