One of the nicer things about this more modern age of football is that Youtube gives us all great access to video that we didn’t have before. For the student of the 46, this means that fans of the 1980s Chicago Bears have been active putting up video of their favorite team. A user named ironworkerjeff has put up several videos useful for analysis. I’ll give links to three of them

  1. 1985 Chicago Bears
  2. 46 Special, part 1 of 3
  3. 46: variations and versatility

Update 2-26-2011: These Youtube videos have been removed. I suspect since video of this period is a product and ESPN Classic is still airing their 46 Special, there were copyright violations that led to the removal of this content. I can’t see any place to buy the ESPN Classic 46 Special, but it was replayed on ESPNCL this last February 26th. Video of the 1985 Bears is available on DVD. 12 games of theirs are on sale through Amazon.

In the first of these three videos, there is a terrific section with Forrest Gregg that starts at roughly 0:58

They run several different alignments, and they move their defensive linemen around to different positions. They have the ideal personnel to handle that style of defense.

Though there is a tendency to talk constantly about the 46, not all video throughout the series is of the 46. 4:30 into video one is a generic 4-3.

A classic 46 look

Madden drawing a 46. The MLB is behind the NG. He can be over the RT.

On the second video mentioned, at 3:28, there is an excellent shot of a 46 front. In the third video, at roughly 2:40 to 2:43, John Madden talks about the signature recognition feature of the 46, the “diamond”.

Madden drawing diamond in the divisional playoff broadcast, Giants and Bears

Update 3-2-2011. The diamond can also be seen in the broadcast of the 1985 Chicago Bears – San Francisco game, available via DVD from Amazon:

The “diamond” can easily be mistaken for a 3-4 front if you’re not looking but the three interior linemen aren’t lined up the same.

  • The “nose tackle” is lined up over the center.
  • The “ends”, in 3-4 jargon, are lined up over the guards, or are found in the “B” gap. Tackles are uncovered.

The three linemen in the diamond are usually down in a three point stance. Everyone else on the line can be in any stance. There will be 5 to six players on the line and eight in the box.

Now throughout  the series they keep talking about the two (Sam and Will) linebackers over the tight end blitzing. I think these comments aren’t correct. Those players in that position have assigned rush responsibilities depending on whether the TE goes out for a pass or stays.

Other notes and comments about the video. In video 2, three are terrific comments by Leslie Frasier and Ron Rivera  at about the 2:00 mark, useful comments by Bill Walsh at the 4:00-4:22 mark, and there is a fantastic quote by Mike Ditka in video 2 at the 5:14 mark.

People would spend hours preparing for the 46, but Buddy might not play the 46 but about 10 times a game.

This, I think, marks the true genius of a multiformation defense.

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