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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The defensive end position in a base 4–3 defense
The defensive end position in a base 4–3 defense

Defensive end (DE) is a defensive position in the sport of American and Canadian football.

This position has designated the players at each end of the defensive line,[1] but changes in formations over the years have substantially changed how the position is played.

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  • ✪ How to Play Defensive End : Responsibilities of the Defensive End in Football
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Hi, this is Sean Hobson, for Expert Village. What we want to talk about now is one of the most important positions on defense, the defensive end. There are a couple of reasons why that position is very important. One, that's one of our main guys we'll use to speed rush on the outside, try to get into the backfield and make things happen. It's also the job of the defensive end to keep the outside contained. That's our outside line of defense. We always want our defensive end to stay at home in case they run a reverse or an end around back in our direction. We never want our defensive end to sell out to the other side of the field. They're always going to step up, have outside containment so the running backs don't run to the outside and so the quarterback doesn't escape to the outside. They are our outside wall so we don't get anything out of the backfield. So, the defensive end is a very important position for that outside containment. They're also the guys we're going to bring from the outside in to hopefully sack the quarterback on the inside.


Early formations, with six- and seven-man lines, used the end as a containment player, whose job was first to prevent an "end run" around his position, then secondarily to force plays inside.

When most teams adopted a twelve-man line, two different styles of end play developed: "crashing" ends, who rushed into the backfield to disrupt plays, and "stand-up" or "waiting" ends, who played the more traditional containment style. Some teams would use both styles of end play, depending on game situations.

Traditionally, defensive ends are in a three-point stance, with their free hand cocked back ready to "punch" the offensive lineman, or in a "two-point stance" like a linebacker so they can keep containment. Some defensive ends play the position due to their size; they close down their gap so the running back has no hole to run through. Other ends play the position due to their speed and agility; they are used to rush the quarterback. These ends can time the snap of the ball in order to get a jump on the rush, and stop the play.

Everson Griffen rushing Jay Cutler
Everson Griffen rushing Jay Cutler

Most of the time it is the job of the defensive end in run defense to keep outside or contain, which means that no one should get to their outside; they must keep everything to the inside. The defensive ends are fast for players of their size, often the fastest and smallest players on the defensive line. They must be able to shed blockers to get to the ball. Defensive ends are also often used to cover the outside area of the line of scrimmage, to tackle ball carriers running to the far right or left side, and to defend against screen passes. Since the creation of zone blitz defenses in the late 1990s, defensive ends have sometimes been used in pass coverages, dropping back to cover routes run close to the line of scrimmage.

In the 3–4 defense, defensive ends are used primarily as run stoppers and are much larger. They are usually 285–315 pounds. Often, the position is played by a more agile or slightly undersized defensive tackle. Because of the increased popularity of the 3–4 defense, the value of a defensive tackle prospect that can possibly be used in this manner has increased. They are used to distract the offensive lineman on pass rushing plays to let the outside linebackers get a sack. They are usually 6'3"–6'8". They block screen passes and are put outside the offensive tackles to get a sack.

See also


  1. ^ "How to Play Defensive End in Football".
Positions in American football and Canadian football
Offense (Skill position) Defense Special teams
Linemen Guard, Tackle, Center Linemen Tackle, End Kicking players Placekicker, Punter, Kickoff specialist
Quarterback (Dual-threat, Game manager, System) Linebacker Snapping Long snapper, Holder
Backs Halfback/Tailback (Triple-threat), Fullback, H-back, Wingback Backs Cornerback, Safety, Halfback, Nickelback, Dimeback Returning Punt returner, Kick returner, Jammer, Upman
Receivers Wide receiver (Eligible), Tight end, Slotback, End Tackling Gunner, Upback, Utility
Formations (List)NomenclatureStrategy
This page was last edited on 23 December 2018, at 00:48
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