Football positions: Defensive End
A defensive end (DE) is a defensive lineman which standard alignment is on the outermost edge of the front defensive formation. There is usually a defensive tackle flanked to their inside shoulder. As far as physical attributes, most professional defensive ends possessing a combination of speed and strength; They are both fleet of foot, and extremely powerful. Indeed, they need every ounce of that power and quickness when they find themselves engaged in gridiron warfare with the offensive unit. On each and every down, defensive ends are locked in mortal combat with wave after wave of offensive linemen, tight ends, and fullbacks.
When it comes to bodily stature, DE's often stand out for being awesome physical specimens. While most Pro Bowl-caliber ends in the NFL are hefty men, they are almost always lean and muscular. A couple of these guys, however, are straight-up mutants. Take the Houston Texans' former # 1 overall pick, Mario Williams, for instance. He had to grow up near a nuclear reactor, seriously. This guy shatters the mold for what a DE should look like, standing at an unbelievable 6'7 "and checking in at a shade under 300lbs. And he runs a 4.6 in the forty-yard dash.Yikes! Other more compactly built DE's, Although arguably smaller, are equally effective pass rushers. See Robert Mathis of the Indianapolis Colts, who is a flat out stud at the defensive end position. This dude racks up double digit sack numbers on a many years base, and is less than many linebackers at Just 6'2 ", 245lbs.
Defensive ends are like the "Swiss army knives" of their unit due to their versatility, and having multiple responsibilities. A typical DE's length and athleticism give them incredible range, so they excel at both defending the flats, and containing scrambling QB's. Depending on the scheme they are running, a defensive coordinator might even ask their DE's to drop off the line and guard against short curl passes and drag routes. But what they excel at – what they live for – is rushing the passer. Elite defensive ends take down quarterbacks like hunters take down prized bucks. When a Brady or a Peyton Manning suddenly finds their backside on the turf, they usually look up to see a menacing DE standing over them. Even when they are not destroying QB's, a great DE will create constant, unlenting pressure off the edge. By the fourth quarter, the opposing quarterback will be so rattled that he is forging bad throws and displaying a serious case of happy feet. The saying rings true: Defensive ends engage in psychological warfare with quarterbacks, and often come out on the winning end.
Defenses that can shut down the run consistently are sound at every position, including DE. An indemnity that ties heavily on draw plays can have great success against an undisciplined defensive end. So a DE can not just blindly pin their ears back and play heat-seeking missile; They have to be aggressive but under control during their forays into the backfield. In run defense, they are also responsible for containing the outside and defending against sweeps, tosses, and pitches. If they can not make the tackle in space, a smart DE will "string the play out" until further reinforcements arrive. Also, effective DE's will not allow themselves to get locked up with offensive blockers. Instead, they use superior technique and sound fundamentals to shed barriers and flow to the football. Most importantly, a DE's skill is not simply measured by sacks; The overall tackles they make in the backfield or tackles for loss (TFL) is an equally important barometer for gauging a DE's true value.
The Elites of the past:
Because sacks are one of sports' most universally recognized statistics, defensive end is among the most popular positions in the game. There are so many famous former defensive ends in NFL history, that it's hard to name them all. Michael Strahan, the gap-toothed assassin at DE for the New York Giants, made Multiple Pro Bowls in the 2000's by lining the wood to quarterbacks through the league. He currently holds the NFL record for sacks in a single season with 22.5, and sports a Super Bowl ring as well. Reggie White, considered by many football observers to be the all-time king, terrorized signal callers playing for both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Green Bay Packers. His tenacity and leadership anchored a defense that helped the 'Pack capture a Super Bowl victory in 1997, and he retired with the all-time sack record. The NFL's current career sack leader, though, is none other than Bruce Smith of the Buffalo Bills. With a non-stop motor that would put a Ferrari to shame, Smith amassed a mind-boggling 200 sacks when it was all said and done. He was also the lynchpin for a defensive unit that helped the Bills make four consecutive Super Bowl appear in the early nineties.
Over the last decade, the NFL game has moved towards potential passing attacks, and many offsets are pass-happy as a result. Subsequently, defenses of today feature dominant defensive ends to combat this non-stop aerial barrage. For example, the Indianapolis Colts enlist the services of Dwight Freeney, and he delivers every Sunday. What does he deliver? Bone-rattling, teeth-chattering collisions on any quarterback brave enough to line up under center, that's what. Freeney is always atop the leader board in both collecting quarterback sacks and cowering left tackles. Justin Tuck of New York Giants leaves offensive coordinators with insomnia while trying to figure out how to contain him. The Giants boasts one of the best front defensive fours in all of football because of his penchant for waylaying quarterbacks. Tuck's partner in crime, Osi Umenyiora, lines up on the opposite side and takes equal delight in creaming QB's. This sack-happy duo rival Freeney and Mathis of the Colts as the league's best, bar none.
Show me the money:
Defensive ends in today's NFL earn a very handsome living, trailing only quarterbacks with a yearly average salary of $ 1.6 million. A few guys at DE spot make the league minimum of $ 310,000, but they are rare. Superstar pass rushers, on the other hand, subscribe to Forbes magazine where they read about themselves. Julius Peppers, formerly of the Carolina Panthers and now with the Chicago Bears, recently signed on the dotted line to the tune of $ 90 million over 6 years, with roughly half that in guaranteed money. Jared Allen of the Vikings was in line for a similar payday and got it in the form of a 6 year, $ 73 million deal. The Falcon's paid their pass rushing demon, John Abraham, a cool $ 8 million this past season. The message NFL owners are sending is clear: produce at the DE position, and we'll make you a very rich man.
As mentioned earlier, DE's are both fast and strong. They put in long hours in the weight room, and on the practice field. Young football players who envision themselves playing the DE position should do the same. On the practice field, pulling weighed sleds, sprinting with parachute and bungee harnesses, and doing cone and ladder-rope drills should be a staple of any DE workout. These exercises serve to develop the explosion, agility, and footwork that are a must at the position. In the weight room, the focus is strength. Front and box squats, "clean and jerks," and incline bench presses help to maximize the power a DE will need to flatten any tack standing between them and the quarterback. Combine these with a comprehensive core building regimen, and a young player has all the tools necessary to become a DE QB's lose sleep over.