Building a Pressure Nomenclature

MQ details how to build a defensive language.

no·men·cla·ture: the devising or choosing of names for things

In a staff room, the most time wasted is probably on what to name specific calls. Depending on the staff and system, the calls may be a hodge-podge of tags or have strict family systems (nomenclature). Each week as concepts are added, naming plays can waste time by just deciding what to name a call. Anthony Caljean of Akron made a hilarious TikTok on the topic (He’s a good follow too for all things recruiting).

Spending a whole day on a call is not something staffs want to do. Even though the results and discussions can be funny, coaches can spend more time coaching or breaking down an opponent. Having a naming system also helps the players learn and remember the system as well. Nomenclature can streamline call systems and help with installs. Keeping pressures and calls in families make them easier to file and track across time.

When developing a system of calls, it is essential to sort by coverage or concept. If certain calls always need specific coverages, then you should put them into a family. For instance, Georgia uses weapons as their Fire Zone Calls (ex. Scissors: Sam & Jack off the edge). One program I was with used Super Heros as their front calls. As long as it makes sense and it relates to the athletes, any system can work.

For this article, we will look at one concept and follow it through three different calls. Starting with a four-man rush and finish with a HOT pressure, the article will track a call system's nomenclature. In this system, four-man replacement/simulated pressures will be NFL teams, five-man pressures will be NBA teams, and finally, HOT pressures are named after NHL teams. Since it is one concept, the Cardinals, each step will be related to a Pheonix-based professional team: Cardinals, Suns, and Coyotes.


Over Cardinals Brown

The first step in this process is the four-down replacement pressure. Below is a look at a traditional cross-dog pressure path. From the Peso (four-down hybrid) Front, the defense can drop both EDGEs. In many Peso packages, the defense bases from a three-down front will sub out the Nose for an extra DB, bringing on a Nickel (Ni) or a third CB, allowing the defense a ton of freedom to manipulate pressures.

Cardinals” was chosen for the “C” in its name. “C” means cross-dog. You could have also used Chargers or Cowboys since both Dallas and LA have NBA and NHL teams. Coverage-wise, the defense can do almost anything since only four are rushing. Below, I chose to go with “Brown” or show Cover 3 and cut to Cover 2 post-snap. The term “Brown” is for Jim Brown, #32. Since both ILBs are in the pressure, single-high coverages allow the Will to creep into the box.

This pressure is a “replacement” path, and seven players are in the coverage, the defense can disguise the coverage pre-snap without losing coverage integrity. The “B” is an EDGE player that also aligns at OLB in base. He understands coverage and can quickly “Cut #2” if asked, allowing a layer of complexity for the offense to sort through without making it difficult for the defensive players.

The Nose needs to stair-step COP (contain pressure), bringing the Guard with him in the pressure. The 3 tech. to the field will COP from inside, attacking the Guard and working off the RT’s backside. The “F” needs to stab at the RT ID’ing run or pass before dropping into coverage. Finally, the Mike can stem to a mugged alignment, but he should start from depth in this case. This pressure is excellent on early downs because it looks like a basic four-down Over Cover 3 that morphs into a cross-dog Cover 2 pressure.


Over Suns FZ 3

The next step is to run an “add” pressure. Instead of tagging Cardinals with “Add,” the defense uses Suns to add the EDGE away from the RB to the fit. You want to the EDGE away from the RB so the defense can use “Push Rules” to the RB in their zone concept. With a five-man pressure and already making it look single-high, the defense will run a traditional Fire Zone or 3-Under/3-Deep zone. NBA teams are used because five defenders are on the rush, and there are five players on the court for basketball.

If the defense wanted to run a Trap 2, the “F” would be the ADD. Trap 2 allows the “B” to work the Seam weak enabling the BS to play his deep-half. A 1 Rat would also work here as well. Coverages can change each week, which adds value to your disguise.

In the fit, the Nose now will run a NOB stunt or Nose to “B.” The boundary EDGE (B) will now COP to that side. Nothing changes for the 3 tech. to the RB as he will COP from inside. Though the “F” is in coverage, he doesn’t have to drop right away. He needs to try and get the Tackle's eyes before he drops, even keeping his eye on the mesh (QB/RB exchange) for run/pass.


Over ‘Yotes Hot

The final step in our process is the HOT pressure. NHL teams are used because there are six athletes on the ice in Hockey, and the defense is sending six defenders. Now everyone in the front seven is in play. Below, the diagram illustrates a traditional cross-dog HOT pressure. Both EDGEs will now insert, and the only front-seven defender with a specific technique is the Nose (NOB).

The coverage is a HOT or EYES coverage. The Ni and BS versus a 2x2 set will be the EYES players. They are reading the QB/mesh while monitoring their area. If the QB has eyes to them, the defender will squat and “feel” the routes around him. Reading the QB’s eyes is why some coaches refer to this type of coverage as EYES. Away from the QB’s vision, the defender will sling-to-vision, racing to get into the throwing window.

Variations in this coverage can be to run what NArduzzi calls GLOCK coverage. Any gun coverage tells the Ni to take the Deep 1/3rd and is an excellent adjustment if you want to make your HOT pressures look like “zero” or max pressures. Have the Ni creep towards the box only for him to sling into the middle of the field (MOF).


The best way to start designing a nomenclature is to write down all of your calls in families. Laying everything out will give you an idea of how you can streamline your calls. By writing everything down and seeing it stacked together, you can better understand how to attack the naming system.

It can also highlight if you need to split a family into more groupings. For instance, NFL pressures in this article are four-down replacement or Sim pressures. That could cover a lot of concepts. To streamline, you could name single-dog Creepers as weapons (below), and any time you send two-second (or third) level defenders is an NFL pressure. As long as it makes sense to your staff and kids, the naming system will work.

Make it relevant to the athlete; they are the ones running the concepts. When it comes to naming new plays, sometimes it is best to let them come up with the name and signal. That gives them ownership, and many times they see things differently. Regardless, streamlining calls into families can simplify an extensive call system and simplifying communication.

Make sure to check out the latest book from MQ, Anchor Points, click HERE!

For more information on the PQD System used to make the diagrams, visit proquickdraw.com or contact PJ Katz (@coachkatzbhs). Make sure to tell them you saw PQD on MQ.

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