Teaching an offensive line to work together is the most vital part to the success of an offense. From pass blocking to picking up a blitzing defensive player, a lineman must be ready to help his fellow teammate. One key fundamental which I feel should be taught is the double team. This can be done between the center and guard, guard and tackle, as well as tackle and TE. In my opinion the double team starts from the split between the lineman.
If the lineman are too far apart, it will take too long for them to work together. By the time they do get to a position where they can function as one, the defender will have penetrated through the line of scrimmage. Splits should look similar on every play. You must choose what those splits will be based in philosophy and offensive scheme.
Next, when double teaming on defensive lineman the philosophy (rule) we used would be the following; if the defensive lineman was head-up to outside of our guard, that’s where our double team would begin. (Note: the double team would be based on the defensive front we faced as this was just our base rule). For this, we will say both our guard and tackle are double teaming a defensive tackle who is lined up in a “3” technique. The first step is the most critical. Lineman are taught to take power steps. These are steps which must be short and powerful. The steps should also be done in unison. We will discuss the guards steps first.
Since the defensive lineman is lined up just outside shade of the guard, he must protect his inside gap. So his first step must be a power step with his left foot, and should be vertical at a 45 degree angle. As he’s doing this he should still be low with his chest over his knees. (Note a power step is no more than 6inches). His second step should also be a power step, but now he should be taking the step vertically and with his right foot. At this point his hands should be firing with his thumbs up and making contact with the defensive lineman. Hands should be forcing inside position on the defender and looking to place his face mask in the defenders bicep. At this time our Guard is coached to stay low and continue taking his power steps, alternating from left to right.
Now for the Tackle. Since the defensive lineman is away from our tackle in a “3” technique he must take his first power step towards the guard. Just as the guard had taken a step with his left foot, so must the tackle. The two steps should be identical in length as well as angle, and stay vertical. The next step should be a power step with his right foot and stay vertical. Again, just as the guard is low and looking to fire his hands inside, so should the tackle. By this time, in his second step he should be making contact with the defensive lineman and place his face mask in the near chest of the defender.
As the tackle fires his left hand into the breastplate of the defensive lineman’s pads, his right hand should fire just above the near shoulder, inside his shoulder pads next to his deltoid (shoulder). Your lineman should be able to manipulate the defender if his right hand is placed correctly. (Note: the tackle needs to be conscious of making sure the defender is not allowed to cross his face towards his outside gap when double teaming with the guard. He must leverage the defensive lineman outside-in or be “outside heavy” with his steps while lifting the near shoulder pad).
Now that the two players are working correctly with their feet, here is the last key to make sure the defensive lineman doesn’t get penetration. Both guard and tackle should be hip to hip working at a 45 degree angle toward the backside middle linebacker. When they do the footwork correctly, stay hip to hip along with staying lower than their opponent, they will end up driving the defender to the second level which in this case would be the linebackers.
Performing the fundamentals of a double team requires both the guard and tackle to work in unison. If executed properly, the double team is an extremely effective technique to eliminate a player on the defensive front.
-Offensive Line Coach