What Is A Bend But Don’t Break Defense

A bend but don’t break defense refers to the philosophy of stopping large plays from happening while allowing shorter plays to be completed.

These sorts of defenses force the opposing team to string together a series of successful short-yardage plays in order to get down the field. They often utilize zone coverage and are especially effective when the defense has a quality pass rush.

Bend but don’t break defenses can muddy the waters of accurate defensive statistics. Defenses tend to be ranked either scoring defense or total defense. Bend but don’t break defenses tend to have a much better scoring defense rating than a total defense rating.

This is because they often give up a lot of yards but surrender few points.

Pros

More Opportunities For Mistakes

One great benefit of this defense is that it gives the offense plenty of opportunities to mess up. This philosophy allows the offense to more easily pick up short plays. But since long plays are so difficult the offense typically has to complete 10-12 play drives in order to score a touchdown.

In each of these plays, there is a chance of a mistake by the offense. A tipped pass, bobbled snap, or a poor throw could all be potential turnovers for the defense.

By forcing the quarterback to make a lot of throws you are increasing the chance they make a costly mistake.

Few Long Scores

Another great benefit of this defense is that teams will very rarely convert long scores. Though the odd play is destined to get through bend but don’t break defenses are very effective at stopping long passes and runs.

Nothing is more deflating than the opposing team scoring a quick touchdown forcing the offense to go right back out. With this style of defense this won’t be a problem.

More Effective In The Red Zone

Another great benefit you will find with this defense is that the closer to your end zone you get the more effective it is.

As we stated earlier this philosophy relies on a large amount of zone defense. As you are pushed back onto your side of the field the zones will become smaller, especially in the redzone.

This is a great attribute of the bend but don’t break defense because this can mean those long gruelling drives often ends in field goals. This can demoralize the opposing offense and cause them to start taking more chances.

Cons

Fewer Splash Plays

One negative aspect of this defense is that you are not going to get many splash plays. Since many of your defenders are focusing on not allowing the big play you must sacrifice some other aspects of the defnese.

This means fewer tackles for loss, stuffed runs, and blitzes. These plays still happen with this defense but are less frequent compared to a more aggressive defense.

Time Of Possession

The time of possession is another sacrifice you are going to have to make when playing a bend but don’t break defense.

This is simply because this style of defense is going to generate longer drives for your opponent. The larger number of short passes and runs is going to make your defenders

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