The Seahawks 4-3 Defense


Have you ever sat down with friends/Co-workers to watch the big game, and stared blankly at the over caffeinated football analyst while he goes on and on in verbiage that is one part gibberish, three parts foreign language?  Well you are not alone. It just feels like you are.

All journeys must start with a first step, and while this is not solving world hunger, or climbing Mt Everest, the knowledge from this article will hopefully allow you to hold your own with your football crazed friends, and even make Sundays more enjoyable.

So let’s cover the basic defensive positions, alignments, and general responsibilities you see on the field every Seahawks Sunday.


The Seahawks run a 4-3 Under  as their base Defense. (Click on the example for a better look. I’ll go over each position you see as we move on)

4-3 Defense (simply put: 4 defensive lineman/ 3 Linebackers )


FS: Free Safety (Earl Thomas): The Free Safety is the last line of defense. Their main responsibility is to assist in deep pass coverage.

SS: Strong Safety (Kam Chancellor): The Strong Safety is a duel threat. This player will not only help in Pass coverage, but usually plays closer to the ball at the snap and will assist the linebackers with stopping the run.

CB: Corner Back (Marcus Trufant, Walter Thurmond, Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman): Main responsibility is to cover the opposing offense’s Wide Receiver.


WLB: Weak Side (or Will) Line Backer (Leroy Hill) : The Playmaker. The weakside Linebacker will be the closest thing to a safety that the linebacking corps have to offer. Fast, sure tackler, most athletic member of the linebackers, this player must also be able to drop into passing lanes/zones.

MLB: Middle (or Mike) Line Backer (Bobby Wagner): The middle linebacker is usually the leader of a defense and is responsible for reading offensive formations, and adjusting alignment of his defensive teammates. He is a do it all type player (Run/pass stopper) and will need to be the best overall linebacker on the team.

SLB: Strong Side (or Sam) Line Backer (KJ Wright): The strong-side linebacker’s main responsibility is to stop the offense’s running game. He will usually align himself over the Tight end and cover him in most passing situations. Ideally, you will need your best tackler in this position.

DEFENSIVE LINE (below is a great shot of the players listed below)

WDE: Weakside Defensive End (Chris Clemons): The Defensive End that lines up on the weakside of the formation (the side without the Tight End) will be your speed rusher. His main responsibility is to disrupt passing plays by penetrating the offensive line’s blocks and get to the quarterback.

SDE: Strong Side Defensive End (Red Bryant): The defensive End that lines up on the strong side of the formation (side with Tight End) will be the running game stuffer. Large, powerful, sure tackler.

NT: Nose Tackle (Brandan Mebane) The Nose tackle will line up over or next to the Center. His main responsibility is to clog the running lanes by taking up as many blocks as possible, allowing the LB’s penetration to stop the run, or come free on blitzes. This position requires a fireplug type player..large, Strong, with low center of gravity.

DT: Defensive Tackle (Alan Branch) The Defensive tackle (you’ll hear the term 3 tech a lot from analysts) will be lined up roughly between the offensive guard and Tackle positions. This player must be disruptive. He must be fast and agile for his size, and be able to penetrate.

Hopefully this very general over view of the Seahawks base defense helps you get a better understanding, or at least reinforces what you already knew. In future articles we will jump deeper into how different defenses work, their strengths,weaknesses, and the way coaches use scouting to adjust to meet all types of gameday scenarios.

If you have any questions please leave a comment, and we’ll answer as soon as we can.



2 thoughts on “The Seahawks 4-3 Defense

  1. I hear 3 & 5 Tech all the flippen time by Mel Kiper talking heads..Why can’t they just say it in english?

    Posted by 8thegreat | August 23, 2011, 10:15 pm
  2. 8thegreat,
    Thanks for the question!
    It’s actually much easier to say 5 technique, then to say: The Defensive player lining up with an outside shade to the LT. Keeps it short. Hope that helps!

    Posted by Will McDougle | August 23, 2011, 10:19 pm

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