I would strongly recommend reading and becoming familiar with this section of the help file if you’re going to manage your own depth charts and create your own defensive game plans. These are advanced concepts. The AI (or “Rex,” as it has been dubbed by long-time Front Office Football players) will happily put out its own depth charts and game plans before each game – all carefully tailored to your next opponent.

In fact, you have to turn off the AI if you want your team to use your game plans and depth charts. You can do this through the Controls – Options menu, using the Edit Single-Player Options screen. Commissioners can use the Edit Multi-Player Options screen to edit these settings for the leagues they run.

Once the AI is turned off, the changes you make using the Game Day – Planning menu are used during simulated games.
If you’re accustomed to the way Front Office Football used to handle defense, many fundamental concepts have changed. As Front Office Football evolves, as it has for nearly 20 years now, so has professional football. And with fans becoming more sophisticated along with the implementation of all these new offenses and defenses, I think it’s a good idea to provide you with the ability to run realistic defensive schemes.

Player Positions and Skills

In Front Office Football, defensive players aren’t necessarily tied to their positions the way offensive players are tied. Players have physical attributes and they have defensive skills. The following physical attributes can be important when evaluating players:

Weight: this is often the most important attribute for a player. Physics gives us the reason. The force on an object is equal to mass times acceleration. So to stop an opposing player, a defensive player has to create a change in his acceleration. In order to do this, a player needs both mass and what we call explosion. Since everyone is playing on the same field at the same altitude, we can cancel out the role of gravity and substitute weight for mass.

Weight can be controlled, to a small extent. During training camp, you can ask your players to lose or gain weight. Each player is limited as to how much he can weight train and in what direction, so you can’t transform a cornerback into a nose tackle. In Front Office Football, a player’s performance is reduced by the difference between that player’s weight and the ideal weight for the position he is playing on that particular play.
Height: For some positions, height matters. For defensive backs, the taller you are, the more likely you’re able to successfully cover receivers. For defensive linemen – especially linemen in a 34 defense expected to handle two gaps – if you’re too short, you will have trouble seeing over offensive linemen and making a good choice as to how to handle the block.

This chart shows the ideal weight for each player at each position in the basic defenses. Players closer to the ideal weight for their assigned position will perform better in games. The darker highlights indicate defensive positions where more height is also important. Finally, players who are further from the average height/weight ratio for their position might see a small decline in performance. This will be shown on the weight training screen for that player.

Ideal weight chart
34 eagle
43 under
43 over
NT 325 312
RDT 315 309
LDT 306 316
RDE 295 305 280 263
LDE 304 312 275 270
SLB 258 256 251 245
WLB 262 261 234 246
MLB 238 241
SILB 242 245
WILB 240 245
RCB 197 197 193 193
LCB 197 197 193 193
SS 208 208 210 206
FS 206 206 206 206

Combine Numbers: Explosion creates acceleration, which is the other half of Newton’s second law of motion. A player’s combine numbers, therefore, lead to better performance on the field. Look at the bench press and the broad jump to see how much explosion the player creates. There’s more on this topic in the Annual Scouting Combine article – in particular what attributes are most important when evaluating physical skills.

Every year, all players are tested in the combine events. Front Office Football does this because you don’t have actual tape to watch, as real professional coaches have.

The following defensive attributes are also important when evaluating players. Keep in mind that the combine numbers and these attributes are heavily intertwined. Numbers are reported both as a player’s current level in this skill, and what your coaches think this player will be able to do once he has reached his full potential.

Run Defense: A player’s ability to defend against the run.

Pass Rush Strength: A player’s ability to rush the passer.

Pass Rush Technique: A player’s ability to use different techniques to evade blockers. Unlike Pass Rush Strength, this attribute does not decline with age.

Pass Defense, Man to Man: A player’s ability to defend a wide receiver running a pass route.

Pass Defense, Physical: A player’s ability to stick with a wide receiver in the five-yard area where contact is allowed.

Pass Defense, Zone: A player’s ability to defend the pass while watching the quarterback and maintaining a defensive zone.

Pass Intercepting: A player’s ability to catch the ball.

Hard Hitter: A player’s ability to bring more force to the point of the tackle. This can cause more injuries.

Play Diagnosis: A player’s ability to deduce the play call quickly after the snap.

Endurance: A player’s ability to stay on the field for a large number of plays. This is heavily influenced by position. A defensive lineman expends more energy on each play than a defensive back.

Defensive Fronts

Your team’s defensive front is tied to your defensive coordinator. Each staff member who specializes on defense runs one of the four defensive fronts available in Front Office Football. Hiring that staff member as defensive coordinator determines your front. That can’t otherwise be changed, so be careful when making staff changes.

The personnel for each of the four fronts is slightly different. For those of you who are new to detailed defensive terminology, in a 34, you have three down linemen (hand on the ground) and four linebackers. In a 43, you have four linemen and three linebackers. These seven players are part of the “front” of the defense. The other four players are part of the secondary, though when expecting a run you can put the strong safety in with the linebackers as well, and show an eight-man front.

Personnel changes also affect play-calling. In a nickel personnel set, one linebacker has been replaced by a defensive back. In the dime, two linebackers have been replaced. In a goal-line defense, your free safety is replaced by an additional defensive tackle, essentially giving you a nine-man front, since your strong safety is automatically close to the line.

All offenses in Front Office Football are “right-handed,” which means the strong side is the right side, which is generally what you see in professional football with a right-handed quarterback. The tight end generally lines up on the right side, and the right tackle is often as good a run blocker as he is a pass blocker, while the left tackle, who protects the quarterback’s blind side from the big-money defensive ends and weak-side rush linebackers, is almost always the best pass blocker. These are the defensive fronts available in Front Office Football, and a brief description of player responsibilities.

True 34: This is what we generally think of when we’re talking about a 34 defense. The down linemen all have two-gap responsibility.

34 Eagle: This is a little bigger than a true 34 in that the nose tackle shades a little bit to the strong side, and the defensive ends are more hybrid ends/tackles.

43 Under: The defensive front shifts a little to the weak side, much like the 34 Eagle.

43 Over: This is what we generally think of when we’re talking about a 43 defense. The defensive front is shifted a little to the strong side.