Flag Football Defense: The Prevent Defense

This is the 4th installment of the 5 part flag football defense series. You can check out the first, second, and third installments to catch up on what’s already been covered, so to speak. This post will discuss the “quarters” or prevent defense, and the last (but certainly not least) installment will cover a few different blitzing schemes to make opposing QBs more uncomfortable than getting tested for chlamydia.

Flag Football Prevent Defense

So the prevent defense is a very basic concept, and should be relatively easy to understand and implement in game situations. It almost goes without saying that this defense is designed to do one thing, and one thing only — defend the deep pass. It’s typically used on 4th and very long, or on the last play of the half or the game.

As you can see in the diagram, there are two deep safeties, and the corners play deep on their respective sides. Each defender is responsible for a deep quarter of the field.

Quarters Flag Football Prevent Defense

This is how the basic prevent defense looks, but you can add a couple of variations to make it even more effective. One being, double team their best deep threat receiver by bringing one of the LBs over to play man coverage on him, while still having the cornerback or safety over the top. The remaining LB would play the middle underneath zone and anticipate check down passes if and when the QB gets under pressure. Another easy and effective variation is to send one of the LBs in on a blitz to get extra pressure and force a quick throw.

Tips For Preventing Big Plays In Game Winning Situations

  • Watch out for double passes and other trick plays – many offenses like to run some form of a double pass in these situations to allow their receivers time to get downfield.
  • If a pass is completed underneath the coverage, RUN to the ball and pull flags.
  • Swat the ball down – trying to intercept is more likely to lead to a tipped ball that the receiver can still catch. Despite what we all saw this past weekend in the Houston vs. Jacksonville game, this is still the best technique to use in these situations.
  • Play deep even before the snap – Under no circumstances should you let a receiver get by you.
  • It can be especially effective for the rusher to force the QB to his weak side (opposite his throwing arm) on plays like these.
  • Be conscious of pitch lanes.

How To Beat Prevent Defenses And Make Game Winning Plays

The best way to beat a prevent defense is to never get into situations where you have to. The odds are never in favor of the offense on hail mary plays, so score more touchdowns than your opponent throughout the game and you shouldn’t have to worry about throwing up a prayer at the last minute.

With that being said, in competitive leagues and tournaments, you’ll probably face a hail mary situation at some point. As I’ve stated, the odds are not in your favor, but there are a few things you can do to have a chance.

  • Isolate your best receiver on their weakest defender by flooding the opposite side of the field with the rest of your receivers.
  • Practice and use pitches (if your league calls the ball dead when it touches the ground, pitches should already be a part of your offense).
  • Try a throwback play: get the ball to your fastest player underneath the coverage and have him run towards a sideline. This will hopefully pull the deep defenders to his side of the field, while another player sneaks to the opposite side of the field. When the defense shifts their movement towards the original receiver, he should throw back across the field to the player by himself on the opposite side. Boom.
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