Football stacking refers to having more than seven players in “the box”. The box is an imaginary area approximately three to five yards deep in front of the offensive line.
To defend against rushing plays, teams stack the box when they believe their opponent will run the football.
If it is a three-four defense or a four-three defense, the defensive line and the linebackers will line up in the box.
Boxes are considered stacked when more defensive players are added to this area. Most often, a safety takes a position in the box from deep within the defensive backfield.
In this way, they will be able to meet the runner faster, ultimately reducing the number of yards they gain.
On rushing plays, each defensive player is usually accounted for with a block. With this extra player in the box, the blocking scheme may go awry.
This extra player is usually unblocked and can often disrupt play when they are in the box.
How Do Teams Stack The Box?
After understanding what stacking the box in football means, let’s break down when teams use this defensive strategy.
Stopping An Effective Ball Carrier
In response to a running back gaining yards against them, teams stack the box.
The more a team is able to run the ball against a defense, the easier it is for them to move the ball. Therefore, teams must adjust their defense when their opponents are running against them effectively.
By stacking the boxes, you can easily adjust the defense. By having an extra defender near the line of scrimmage, the defense is much more likely to stop their opponents.
In the end, adding this extra player to the box will make your pass defense more vulnerable. Teams have to make this sacrifice in order to stop an effective rushing attack.
As a result, teams rush the ball in order to force teams to commit more defenders to stopping the run game. Moving these defensive players closer to the line of scrimmage can provide more opportunities for the offense to complete a deep pass.
Throw a Ball to a Quarterback
In football, teams stack the box to force the quarterback to throw the ball.
Inexperienced rookies or backups thrown in due to injury will be exploited by defenses.
By stacking the box, they are eliminating their opponents’ ability to run the ball. This will make the quarterback’s job easier to throw the ball, but will force the offense to rely on passing.
Defenses will often be playing without safety help in these situations, so cornerbacks will be heavily relied upon.
The defensive backs will be aware of the quarterback they are playing and will likely try to intercept him as he moves the ball downfield.