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A lone nose tackle in the base 3-4 defensive formation

Nose tackle (NT) is a defensive alignment position for a defensive lineman in American and Canadian football. The nose tackle aligns across the line of scrimmage from the offense's center before the play begins.



In a traditional 4-3 defensive set, the term "nose tackle" could be (but is not usually) used to describe one of the two defensive tackles, usually on the weak side of the offensive line. His job is to take up the center and weak-side or pulling guard so that the smaller 'rush' end has a 1-on-1 matchup with the offense's blindside tackle. The second defensive tackle sometimes referred to as an 'under tackle', takes up the strongside guard and the strongside end takes up the strongside offensive tackle. More modern, cover 2 schemes include either four smaller, athletic linemen, like Tony Dungy's scheme, developed in Tampa Bay; or two small, athletic ends and two nose tackles, like the scheme used by the Baltimore Ravens during their 2000 championship season. Other examples of some players playing this position in this scheme are Gilbert Brown, who won Super Bowl XXXI with the Green Bay Packers, Jerry Ball, and Ted Washington.


In a 3-4 defensive scheme, the nose tackle is the sole defensive tackle, lining up directly opposite the center in the "0-technique" position. Like the traditional 4-3, the nose tackle must occupy the center and one guard, typically the weak-side or pulling guard. One defensive end then matches up with both the strongside tackle and/or strongside guard, while the other has a 1-on-1 matchup with the offense's blindside tackle. This leaves the outside linebackers free to pass-rush, creating the 3-4 scheme's distinctive pressure on the passing game.

In order for a 3-4 scheme to be effective, a dominating nose tackle who can constantly occupy 2 or even 3 blockers is needed. However, these type of players are hard to find. Ted Washington, who in his prime weighted as much as 380 pounds, is considered the prototypical 3-4 nose tackle of this era.[1] Jerry Ball was also a highly successful nose tackle, with multiple Pro Bowl appearances and 32 career sacks. Other examples of some players playing this position in this scheme are Shaun Rogers, Kris Jenkins, Vince Wilfork and Terrence Cody.


In a 5-2 defensive scheme, the nose tackle strictly occupies the center. This causes a one-on-one matchup with the other four linemen on both teams. This allows the two linebackers to drop in coverage on passing plays and free roam in running plays.




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