This is not a misprint. The Double Eagle Flex Defense, known as the Desert Swarm Defense when it was introduced in 1992 by Dick Tomey’s staff at the University of Arizona, has long been a point of fascination for defensive coaches.
Fascinating, but not practical. At least in today’s game.
The Double Eagle Flex looks cool, and the principles behind it are so sound, yet so devastatingly genius, we wonder why no one does it. Until you get the chalk out, and look at running it against 10 Personnel, and stopping the Zone Read Option or the Air Raid Offense.
While some coaches are using the defense as a change-up, the coaches who are running the Double Eagle Flex as a base are few and far between.
Ted Amorosi introduced us to the defense with his book and video, Coaching Football’s Double Eagle Flex, and I decided to consult the book after getting some questions about running the defense as a base in response to this video.
Zoning 1 Back Sets
When we line up the Double Eagle Flex against 21 Personnel, it is perfect in every way. But when we get into 10 or 11 Personnel sets, things get dicey.
Short of running a Zone Blitz on every down, you will have to get that hybrid lineman / linebacker (Whip) that makes the defense so effective to show off some of his athleticism when you defend the spread offense.
Against one back sets, where the Fullback is not a threat to create new gaps, we lose the element of the Double Eagle Flex that makes it so unique. The defense becomes a 4-2-5 Defense, with two hybrid safeties outside – the Rover and the Strong Safety. Our two Inside Linebackers are the Whip, a hybrid Lineman / Linebacker, and the Blood, your one true Linebacker.
It is a Single High Safety look, so Cover 3 is the natural fit. You should not rotate the Weak Safety back and use a 2-High Safety coverage like Quarters here. Unlike the 4-2-5, your Whip Linebacker is probably not athletic enough to cover the ground necessary for this.
Note that Amorosi recommends locking down the boundary corner in Man Coverage
Defending Trips in the Double Eagle Flex Defense
If we get a Trips Formation of any sort, the Rover and the Strong Safety need to be on the same side. You will be putting a lot of pressure on the Whip here, as he is going to be vulnerable to a flare or wheel by the back. The Corner on the single receiver side will lock down in man coverage.
A personnel substitution for your normal Whip may be in order if you’ll be seeing a heavy diet of this. Or you could just bring 6 and dare them to drop back and throw to the back.
Man Coverage and Zone Blitzing
The other option is to keep bringing the Whip, and drop into a 3 Under, 3 Deep Zone. You can also use Cover 1 and Cover 0 blitzes to keep heavy pressure on the Spread Offense.
The position of the Whip makes for some excellent blitzing opportunities. Running some simple twists with the Nose Guard or the weak side Defensive End are simple ways to start heating up the Quarterback.
You can get extremely creative with your Cover 1 or Cover 0 blitzes, just like in any defense. Bring the heat and see how well the offense can handle it!
This is not a defense I would run as a base in our area, where we see the Spread almost every week. But if you are facing more Option, Wing-T and Power / Counter teams, it is definitely a front to be considered. Don’t underestimate the value of being different from everyone else!