Defensive Ends


11-man fan
Just a question for the more seasoned coaches.

I got to coach this last year and it was a tough season with narry a single win. Regardless I have been thinking and plotting what to change for next year, and have come up with an idea. All season long seemingly regardless of whether we were in a 2 or 3 man defensive front I kept seeing the ends up-field (where I told them to go to maintain outside contain) and large gaps forming either side of their offensive center. Linebackers struggled to fill these gaps and while we seldom had runners get outside of our ends they gashed us for long runs just right up the gut. The last 2 weeks of the season I had the ends play more of a linebacker role and attempt to keep contain laterally along the line of scrimmage rather than getting penetration only to see them ending up behind the play. The results were mixed, but I was encouraged to see more than a single tackler attempting to box in the running backs.

I was trained in 8 & 11-man and find some things to be more of a hindrance (mentally) than a help. Defensive Ends were always instructed to get penetration to contain the play inward toward the D-Line and Linebackers. However in 6-man I'm coming to the opinion that these D-Ends would be in better position if they attempt to work laterally until they read pass, and then they rush the passer. So what are some weaknesses of this type of defensive end discipline? I don't want to take away the chance for players to be aggressive, but rather want to put them in a better spot to get multiple helmets in on each tackle. Any ideas? Yea or Nae?
To be aggressive with the ends you need fantastic athletes. Without these players a more reserved scheme is best. When we game planned for teams with aggressive ends we left them unblocked, blocked the linebacker with our end, flared our tailback to hold the end and ran a simple dive with great success. We had several games with a 10 yard plus ypc average with our FB's and none of them could run under a 5.2 in the 40. The drawbacks to being reserved with your ends means you will rarely have one of your ends run a play down from behind, the ends rarely make tackles but can stretch the play (puts a lot of pressure on your LB's to tackle), and the passing game is opened up a bit due to little QB pressure. All in all it comes down to evaluating your talent and coming up with a plan that works with your personnel.
Thanks for the tips. I think that I will try to reach Coach Owens at Highland, and get his ideas on the 2-3.

Mr. Howls your advice was appreciated. I think that next season we will use a more reserved approach for the regular set, and mix in a "blitz" from the ends in passing situations. I would love to have the type of athletes to create constant pressure from the ends, but those type of players are needed in linebacker roles.