In my continuing attempts to fill out my defensive playbook with a formation for every situation, I now give you the 5-2 Punisher. 4-3 Barricade was earlier introduced as a more sound alternative to my original base defense, the 4-3 Stagger, but although both of these sets are adequate against the run and Barricade is very good against runs up the middle, at times just a bit more is needed. When you're down a score and your opponent is grinding the last few minutes off of the clock with run after pounding run, you have to beef up your front and take your chances in single coverage against the pass. 5-2 Punisher is designed primarily for such situations, as well as making a sturdy not-quite-goal-line defense when Fortress is a bit too slow to feel comfortable with. This formation is also a good fit for defensive coordinators who don't mind giving up a few pass plays if it means clamping down on the run and applying pressure every play in their base set.
The alignment of the front seven is just slightly unconventional. The line is stacked slightly to the offense's right (usually strong) side to apply maximum pressure on the run at the point of attack. The linebackers compensate by shifting slightly to the weak side where the right LB can pursue speed runs and flats and swing routes out of the backfield. The other LB (A MLB as drawn up) is lined up directly behind the nose tackle to control the two key gaps in the heart of the D-line. To prevent big pass plays the cornerbacks give a slightly larger than normal cushion.
5-2 Punisher will stretch the depth of many teams' D-lines. I use three tackles with the #1 guy in the middle and the #2 man the more isolated of the other two on the mid-weak side. In general use your two best linebackers, while slightly favoring speed for wide pursuit over size as there's enough of that on the line. The natural weakside and middle LB assignments given will work well for most teams. If you favor playing a team that normally runs a 3-4 you might consider using the one or both starting OLBs as DEs instead of using five true D-linemen.
The base play in this 5-2. The D-line all slants to fill every gap against the run, absorbing both O-line and FB lead blocks, leaving the LBs free to pursue to the ball carrier. Able to contain just about any running play.
The five man line will make QBs realize they have to get rid of the ball a little more quickly than usual, so this play serves as a nice change-up, dropping two tackles into coverage and taking away the usual hot reads. Better than it looks against the run as well.
Contact Arkaein with any comments or questions regarding the Monstrous Madden Playbook.