Football 101 for Fun ~ Prevent Defense

By ChargerGirl Cindi

Welcome to my new weekly blog “Football 101 for Fun”.  I have been asked by quite a few ladies (and some men) to throw out a weekly info-blog about football.  I will attempt to explain the things you hear on TV or from your friends that will help you join in on the conversation.  Look for Football 101 on Fridays.  This week, the Prevent Defense.

I am sure you have heard the groans, grumbles and yells associated with the “prevent defense”.  You may have also heard what John Madden once famously quipped “the only thing the prevent defense does is prevent you from winning.”

The Prevent is a tactic used by the team that is winning in order to keep the other teams offense in the middle of the field so that the clock does not stop.  Typically, this happens late in the fourth quarter.   A typical prevent plan will have only a few linemen and the rest of the defensive players as defensive backs.  The goal here is to allow short gains inside the out of bounds markers.

When an offense is facing a Prevent defense, only short, quick tosses between the numbers are surefire completions. But even those take 20 seconds off the clock. If that offense doesn’t have a timeout, they can only afford to throw about six passes in 120 seconds. That means they need to average around 12 yards per attempt to score in time.  When the big gains are not allowed, is when the Prevent works.

So, the problem with the Prevent defense can be two fold.  One, it is called into action too soon, allowing the losing teams offense to march down the field and score.  Second, it can tire out the defenders.  Covering against the pass in a quick offense can lead to mistakes and penalties, this again is where the other team has a chance to win.

The Prevent should only be called into action in the last few minutes of the game when a team has an exponential lead (45 – 21) not sooner and not if you are only ahead by 7 or less.  I’m with John Madden here, I think the Prevent is a sign of giving up and has no room in any game plan.

I hope you enjoyed this.  Please ask follow up questions and request other 101’s in comments.

ChargerGirl Cindi