Defensive Prototypes: 1-Technique

With the second piece in the series, Sam Monson highlights the D-linemen seeing the most time lined up as a 1-technique.

| 2 years ago

Defensive Prototypes: 1-Technique

prototypes-1techFollowing on from the first in the series of our Defensive Prototypes (0-technique) we will be staying inside and focusing on the 1-technique defensive tackle.

The 1-technique is very similar to the 0-technique, and is still called the nose tackle in most systems, though instead of being the fulcrum for a three-man line, they are usually the centerpiece of a four-man front.

They do much the same job as the 0-technique, except they are shaded to one of the center’s shoulders, and are rarely expected to control two gaps. In other variants of the numbering system you will see the 1-technique labeled as shaded to the inside shoulder of one of the guards, but broadly the job remains the same.

They are expected to command a double team from the center and guard, which frees up other linemen to be one on one with their blockers. When people talk about a defensive tackle taking on double teams for the good of teammates, they are often talking about this position. With defensive linemen facing a four-on-five mismatch along the line, the 1-tech nose tackle is the player that allows them to even the numbers.


A good 1-tech is an immovable force in the middle that requires two players to try and shift him from the point of attack, leaving his teammates single-blocked along the line, and allowing linebackers to run free to the ball and make stops close to the line of scrimmage. A good 1-technique DT can dramatically improve an entire run defense, because he makes several players’ jobs much easier.

With the way that defensive fronts have evolved in recent years, though, teams can employ a 1-technique defensive tackle in virtually any front and many of the players we saw in the 0-technique article actually play more 1-technique than they do 0. It is no longer a position limited to a four-man defensive line.

1-Tech, Click to Enlarge

1-Tech, Click to Enlarge


Whether you play 0-technique as well, the primary technique alignment of almost all nose tackles in today’s NFL is the 1-tech.

As we can see from the chart tot he right (click to enlarge), nobody played a higher percentage of his snaps at this technique than Cincinnati’s Domata Peko. Cincinnati employs a very standard four-man front, and Peko is their traditional 1-tech nose tackle while Geno Atkins occupies the pass-rushing 3-tech spot alongside him.

Sadly for the Bengals, Peko is not a very good 1-tech, and goes some way toward explaining why their run defense was middle of the pack at best.

Linval Joseph and Clinton McDonald also both played nose tackle in traditional 4-3 defensive fronts in Minnesota and Tampa Bay, respectively, while Terrance Knighton in Denver and Brandon Williams in Baltimore played in defensive fronts that were a little more multiple and complex. All five players, though, have very similar looking graphs, playing the majority of their snaps at 1-tech before each seeing a smaller number at various other spots along the defensive line, often in sub-packages.

If the age of the two-gapping 3-4 nose tackle is gone, the era of the 1-tech is in full swing. If you want a run-stuffer along your front, the chances are you will be deploying him at this spot.


Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN and NBCSports.

  • LightsOut85

    Would it be possible to post the 1-tech %s? They all bunch so closely Terrance Knighton’s line disappears. (Looks to be behind/in-line-with the red & dark-blue lines).