A half dollar defense in football refers to a defensive formation that places eight defensive backs on the field at one time. A traditional football defense includes a total of four defensive backs meaning the half dollar defense is quite different than most.
The half dollar defense is also referred to as a prevent defense due to its purpose of stopping long passes. This style of defense is not very common is used in specific situations during the game rather than being used for its entirety.
What Is A Half Dollar Defense Used For?
A half dollar defense is used strictly in situations in which you are trying to prevent a long touchdown or a deep pass. The half dollar defense itself has tons of weaknesses when used in any other situation.
This formation’s sole purpose is to stop long passes on plays in which you know the opponent is going to pass.
Some situations in which a half dollar defense may include: a hail mary throw, the final few plays of the half, or an extremely long third down. In these situations, the offensive team could easily run the ball or throw a short pass and pick up some yards.
But due to the situation of the game these short gains of yardage are not going to do them any good. Knowing this the defense can focus solely on stopping the long pass as they know this is what the opposing team is going to attempt.
How To Beat It?
Beating the half dollar defense can be done easily when a long pass doesn’t need to be completed. Simply run the ball and the lack of defensive lineman and linebackers will easily allow your running back to get to the second level.
Though beating the prevent defense when you need a long pass is a different story.
Completing a long pass against one of these defenses is incredibly hard to do. But it is still possible.
One of the most common ways to beat a half dollar defense is to overload one side. In most situations, half dollar defenses are played in a zone. This means players are tasked with covering a certain area of the field.
By overloading one zone you may find that one of your receivers is able to achieve some separation. Another alternative for beating this style of defense is to get your best receiver isolated.
It is not uncommon on hail mary’s to have your top receiver on one side and all your others on the opposite side. This isolation may allow your top receiver to only have one or two defensive players covering him. This sounds like a lot but against this style of defence this is a luxury.
You only have to look to the Bills Cardinals game in 2020 to see how this strategy can work. All that being said completing a long pass or touchdown against a prevent defense is a very difficult and unlikely task.
Why Is It Called A Half Dollar Defense?
The name half dollar defense stems from the first defensive back heavy formation called the nickel defense.
The nickel defense was the first to add more than four defensive backs into their formation. When the fifth defensive back was added he was referred to as the nickel corner. Since there were five defensive backs on the field this name just fit.
As teams began to add more defensive backs the names increased in monetary value. A formation with six defensive backs is called a dime package. A defensive formation with seven dbs is called a quarter defense.
And finally, as you add an eight defensive back this formation is called the half dollar. The not a popular coin the half dollar is the next currency that comes after the quarter.