A defensive formation in football composed of five down linemen and two linebackers.
The primary precursor to the 4-3 defense, the 5-2 defense’s goal is to provide a strong defensive front, with support from two linebackers who have the responsibility of jamming the offensive ends as they come off the line. This keeps both the run and the pass effectively covered, as it allows for four defensive backs in coverage. The most notable reason for the decline in popularity of this formation is the noticeable passing hole in the middle of the defense. Originally, this was intended to be handled by the jamming of the offensive ends by the linebackers. Many offenses countered, however, by replacing tight ends with slot receivers, which led to the need to pull the middle guard back or replace him with a linebacker. The 5-2 defense can also be difficult because it requires five linemen and can be a challenge for teams of smaller size.