Defenses in the NFL have been forced to evolve due to offenses becoming more dynamic.
We've seen freak defensive ends like Jason Pierre-Paul, ultra-athletic outside linebackers like Aldon Smith and big, physical safeties like Kam Chancellor become the norm for defenses. This is so they're able to keep up with more athletic playmakers like running back Adrian Peterson, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and tight end Jimmy Graham.
With NFL defenses continuing to change, it can be hard for the common fan to keep up with everything. Luckily for you, we've put together this little test to see just how well you know NFL defenses.
The answers are at the very bottom, and we trust you to not cheat your way to a perfect score.
Question 1: What is this defensive set called?
This defensive set is used by a number of teams in the NFL, most notably the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens.
What is this defensive set called?
Question 2: Who is this defensive player?
OK, I promise this is the last cupcake question, but I need to make sure you're paying attention. Things are going to get pretty difficult pretty quickly around these parts.
Can you name this defensive player?
Question 3: What position does Von Miller play for the Denver Broncos?
Miller has been one of the best linebackers in the league since he was drafted. He's recorded a ridiculous 30 sacks in his two seasons in the NFL.
What is the correct name for Miller's position?
Question 4: What type of defense are the New York Jets running in this play?
The Jets have fielded one of the better defenses in the league in recent seasons (OK, maybe not last season). They have the personnel to do some pretty creative things.
This defensive set is one of their favorites. Do you know the name of the defense the Jets are running in this play?
Question 5: What type of move is this?
In this play, Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers lines up at outside linebacker but ends up rushing the quarterback from between the left guard and center. This play resulted in a sack of St. Louis Rams' quarterback Sam Bradford.
Can you identify this type of defensive move?
Question 6: What position does Chris Clemons play for the Seattle Seahawks?
Clemons has made a name for himself as one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL today. He plays a rather unique position for the Seahawks.
Can you name it?
Question 7: What type of move does J.J. Watt use to sack Matt Hasselbeck in the play below?
Watt proved to be one of the best pass-rushers in the league last year by using a variety of moves in order to get after the quarterback.
Against the Tennessee Titans, Watt used what type of move to sack the quarterback?
Question 8: What type of defensive set is this?
As the NFL continues to become more of a passing league, defenses are being forced to employ more defensive backs on the field.
This specific defensive set uses more defensive backs than linebackers and linemen combined. Let's just say teams aren't expected to end up with a sack in this defensive set.
Do you know what it is called?
Question 9: What type of defense are the Houston Texans running in this play?
Against the Atlanta Falcons, the Texans lined up in this special defensive set. They used this defense quite a bit during the 2011 season, and with great success.
Can you name the type of defense the Texans are running?
Question 10: What coverage scheme are the New York Jets playing in the picture below?
This is a play from back in 2011, when the Jets still had cornerback Darrelle Revis on the roster. His presence allowed the Jets to play some pretty unique coverage schemes.
Can you name the specific coverage scheme the Jets are playing here?
Well, that's all we got for you. Take a look below and see how well you did. There is no grading scale, because we think you are all winners here.
Answer 1: A. This is a standard 3-4 defense. It has three defensive linemen and four linebackers. Pretty basic stuff, but we just wanted to make sure you were paying attention.
Answer 2: D. Look, if you don't know who the best inside linebacker in the game is right now, you should probably just quit while you're ahead.
Answer 3: B. Miller plays the position known as the SAM linebacker. This is an outside linebacker who lines up on the strong side (hence the SAM) of the offensive line. The SAM linebacker is mostly used to rush the quarterback, but Miller is such an incredible all-around linebacker that he makes plays in every facet of the game.
Answer 4: A. The Jets are running a 46 defense here against the Seattle Seahawks. Its strength is putting pressure on the quarterback. It's also very effective against the read option the Seahawks were using in this game. The only real weakness can be giving up big plays outside against the run. This is probably why the Jets have invested so heavily in athletic defensive linemen like Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and Sheldon Richardson.
Answer 5: D. Aldon Smith runs a stunt here on the St. Louis Rams. Defensive end Justin Smith makes a move toward the left tackle, and the left guard also helps because of Justin's reputation. That leaves Aldon a huge gap to make a move between the left guard and center. Quarterback Sam Bradford didn't stand a chance.
Answer 6: C. The position Chris Clemons plays is called "Leo." Clemons actually played linebacker in college for the University of Georgia. It wasn't until he came to Seattle that he really became the player he is today. The "Leo" is designed to simply get after the quarterback on every single play.
Answer 7: A. J.J. Watt uses the swim move to get past the offensive lineman on his way to a sack of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Few pass-rushers are as polished as Watt or have as many moves as Watt does. The swim move is just one of his many moves to get after quarterbacks.
Answer 8: B. This defensive set is known as a dime defense. The defense puts six defensive backs on the field compared to four defensive linemen and a lone linebacker. The purpose of this defense is so the offense can't outmatch the defense when it puts four to five receivers on the field. The sole purpose is to defend the pass and not allow big plays.
Answer 9: C. The Texans are running a Cover-1 defense in this play. It's called a Cover-1 because one player is responsible for manning the middle of the field. That player for Houston in this play is the free safety. This defense is very tricky for NFL offenses. The end result of this play was an interception of quarterback Matt Ryan for the Texans.
Answer 10: D. In this play, the Jets are running a Cover-0 scheme. In this scheme, defenses use strict man-to-man coverage. The potential weakness of this scheme is that there is no help over the top from safeties. If a cornerback gets beat in this defensive scheme, the likely end result is a touchdown.
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