Gino's Blog

Match-making – thinking outside the defensive box.: Part 2

My previous blog article explained part 1 of ‘match-making’ – how to think outside the defensive box. Part 1 showed three offensive formations that an opponent recently opened a drive with. Part 1 ended with 3 questions that relate to those formations. Here’s Part 2:

This is Phase One of how we coordinate our defense. After Phase One, we progress to the relationship between defensive formation and the remaining elements – distance for first down, distance to end zone, score, time, and again, most importantly, personnel.

Since 1984, the evolution of how we coordinate defense has centered on the notion of thinking outside the box – literally and figuratively. Think outside the defensive box on the field and think outside the intellectual box. The complexities of modern offenses have challenged defensive coordinators in ways like never before. What’s worked for us has been:

  1. Breaking from traditional formations and conventional defensive positions.
  2. ‘Studying the relationships.’ For example, the relationships change on every play. The down and distances alone create different dimensions that need to be defended. The length of the field that needs to be defended, the position where the ball is spotted, and how many chances the offence has left to get a first down are all evidence of offensive intention that answer the question of defensive matching.
  3. No relationship is more important than the level of our development – the individual and collective level of strength, skill, smarts, and experience. Who we are determines what we can and will do.
  4. Creating a decision-making model that allows us to ‘change without changing.’ We have abolished a defensive huddle against opponents who we have ‘positively identified.’ A call made in a defensive huddle is a presumptive decision – a decision based on limited information and without certainty of the offensive formation. A no-huddle defense has been a solution when we have ‘positively identified’ the opposing offense. The concept of ‘positive identification’ means proving what the opposing offense will do with their relationships. We developed a system of identifying ‘points’ of comparison through hardcore evidence that leads to a conclusion. If we believe we have a positive match, we will abolish the huddle and use our decision-making model to match any offensive formation we face regardless of relationships.

Developing defensive coordinator expertise doesn’t just happen. It takes a long process. In my opinion, the number one key to becoming an expert defensive coordinator is learning how to coordinate an offense. The best experience to develop defensive coaching expertise is to coordinate and offense in order to understand the relationships between formations and every other element of a specific play. The experience of being an offensive coordinator will develop what it takes for the defense to match the offense without giving up their defensive identity. Coordinating a defense starts with never relinquishing defensive identity. Build identity, keep identity. Identity theft will crack any defense at any level. Changing defensive identity is the main reason for strategic defensive failure. If you lose who you are on defense, you’re no longer a defense.


Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., NCCP Level 3
Head coach – Niagara X-men football

head coach- Robert Bateman High School – GO WILD.

Owner – X Fitness Inc.

Gino Arcaro is a widely published author. His website, blog, Youtube channel, and list of books are at: and His books include: 4th & hell: seasons 1-5, Soul of a Lifter, SWAT Offense, SWAT Defense, X Fitness Workout System, and a 3 business book series called Soul of an Entrepreneur . He also has written 20 editions of 6 law enforcement academic textbooks. A new 8-volume interrogation book series will be released in the spring of 2014. And later this month, a new children’s book called “BE FIT – DON’T QUIT.”

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