The acronym DT in football stands for defensive tackle. Defensive tackles line up in the middle of the defense and play on the defensive line. Defensive tackles are typically the largest and strongest players on the football field.
Depending on the defensive formation there are usually one or two defensive tackles on the field. In a three-four defense there are three defensive linemen one of which is the defensive tackle.
In a four-three defense there are four defensive linemen two of which are defensive tackles.
Since DTs are on the defensive line this means that they line up right on the line of scrimmage. This means these players often have the first shot at bringing down the ball carrier.
What Does A DT Do?
Now that you know DT stands for defensive tackle you may be wondering what exactly this position does on the football field. Below we will cover some of the main responsibilities DTs have on the defensive side of the ball.
Plugging Holes In The Offensive Line
One of the main purposes of a defensive tackle in football is to not allow the opposing to generate holes for the running back.
On rushing plays the offense will have a specific hole they want to run the ball through. For example, this could be between the left guard and the left offensive tackle.
The defensive tackle’s job is to identify these holes and plug them up so that the ball carrier cannot get through them.
If the hole is plugged the running back will often get stuck in the backfield giving other defenders enough time to get there for the tackle.
Defensive tackles must feel where the offensive line is trying to push them and fight the block in order to plug the intended hole for the running back.
Rushing The Passer
Another duty of DTs is rushing the passer. This position is not as prominent in pass-rushing compared to defensive ends and this is because of their size and where they line up.
Defensive tackles line up in the middle of the line meaning they will have to take on guards and centers in order to reach the quarterback. This often means defensive tackles will be taking on double teams while the defensive ends face off against a single offensive tackle.
DTs also may find it more difficult to pass rush due to their size. They must stay heavy in order to avoid being pushed around on running plays but this extra weight can make it difficult for these players to chase down quarterbacks.
Getting To The Running Back
On top of plugging holes DTs will also attempt to get into the backfield and tackle running backs before they leave the backfield.
If a defensive tackle is able to beat his block and get into the pocket the running back will almost always have to change their direction.
This can lead to a tackle for loss from the DT himself or simply allow the other defenders to tackle the ball carrier now that the play is broken.
These sorts of disruptive plays by the defensive tackle can result in this position being a nightmare for the opposing offense.