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Old 03-18-2010, 07:59 PM
 
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Good information for anyone who does not understand or has questions regarding some points of the two Defenses.... this was written by a Bills fan (not I) and uses Buffalo players as an example but it pertains to all teams of course.

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This is meant to be a GENERAL and SIMPLE description. It does not describe ALL 3-4 defenses. It should, however, give you a pretty good starting point in your understanding of the 3-4. Keep in mind that the following descriptions of body types and responsibilites MAY NOT ALWAYS hold true. In most of today's 3-4s, though, they do.

Key points:

- In a 3-4 defense, there are 3 defensive linemen and 4 linebackers.
- The responsibility of the 3 linemen is primarily to tie up blockers, allowing the linebackers to pressure the passer and flow to the ball on run plays.
- Linemen in the 3-4 typically do NOT get a lot of sacks, as this is not their key objective.
- Defensive ends in the 3-4 typically have a body type similar to that of 4-3 defensive tackles. They are usually about 6 to 6 and a half feet tall, and their weight is usually between 275 and 315. Their key attribute must be STRENGTH rather than speed. To give an example, Marcus Stroud and Spencer Johnson both have the ideal body size/type to be 3-4 D-ends.
- The defensive tackle in a 3-4 defense (called the "nose tackle") should be a minimum of 310 lbs and should ideally have a low center of gravity. While its possible to have success with a smaller nose tackle, the best 3-4 defenses in the league have a BIG GUY manning this spot. Think Vince Wilfork, Casey Hampton, Ted Washington as opposed to Tommie Harris, Kevin Williams, Marcus Stroud.
- The outside linebackers in a 3-4 defense are the ones who generally rush the passer and pile up big sack totals. If it helps, you can think of them as the true "defensive ends" of the 3-4 defense, in the sense that their job in the defense is similiar to the job of a DE in a 4-3.
- The traits a 3-4 OLB must posess are similar to the traits of a 4-3 defensive end: They must have speed, quickness, burst, and pass-rushing ability. It is usually safe to assume that if a player lines up at defensive end in a 4-3, he would line up at outside linebacker in a 3-4. This means that Schobel, Maybin, and Kelsay would all be OLBs in our new defense, NOT defensive ends.
- While 4-3 defensive ends generally convert to OLBs in a 3-4 defense, not ALL 4-3 defensive ends are cut out to be 3-4 OLBs. This is because the OLBs must also drop into coverage, and many NFL d-linemen simply don't have the speed, agility, or smarts to do so.
- 4-3 outside linebackers fit best as INSIDE linebackers in the 3-4 defense. As discussed before, 3-4 OLBS generally are pass rushers and must possess speed and quickness. For this reason, most 4-3 OLBs (like Kawika Mitchell) are too slow to be OLBs in a 3-4. They fit better inside, where they can use their size and block-shedding ability to be run-stuffers. This means that Poz can NOT be a 3-4 OLB, nor can Kawika Mitchell most likely.


So, in summary: Schobel, Kelsay, and Maybin will be OLBs in our 3-4 defense. Dwan Edwards, Spencer Johnson, and Marcus Stroud will be DEs in our 3-4 defense. We do not currently have a true nose tackle on the roster, though there is speculation that Kyle Williams will man that spot in 2010. Mitchell will likely NOT be playing OLB, Poz will DEFINITELY not be playing OLB, and Dwan Edwards is still a great signing despite his lack of sacks.
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Old 03-18-2010, 09:30 PM
 
Location: Tampa (by way of Omaha)
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That's a pretty good write up.
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Old 03-18-2010, 11:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Bosco55David View Post
That's a pretty good write up.
Plus one!
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Old 03-20-2010, 07:52 PM
 
Location: Silver Spring, MD/Washington DC
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A little history - the modern 4-3 was created in the 1950s out of the 5-2 (aka Eagle) defense, which was similar in some ways to both the 4-3 and 3-4 - instead of a middle linebacker (the focal point of a 4-3), you had a middle guard/nose guard (or nose tackle in current terminology) who played over the offensive center and like the 4-3 MLB was the focal point of the defense. Tom Landry was the first or one of the first coaches to use the 4-3 (i.e. to drop the middle guard back off the line of scrimmage but keeping him in the middle of the formation), when he was the New York Giants' defensive coordinator, and Sam Huff was one of the first stars at MLB. Many, many great players have followed Huff at the position. Even though the defensive alignment is 50+ years old, it remains the most popular base defensive alignment for most NFL teams, due to its good balance to defend the run and the pass.

The 3-4 has its roots in the odd-man fronts employed by the late 1960s/early 1970s Kansas City Chiefs; the Chiefs used 4 defensive linemen but would line up one of their defensive tackles over center. (This tactic was a major factor in the Chiefs' Super Bowl IV win over the Minnesota Vikings; the Vikings' all-pro center, Mick Tinglehoff, was overpowered by the much larger Buck Buchanan and Curley Culp and the Vikings couldn't get their running or passing game operating with any consistency.) The first true 3-4 was used by the early 1970s Miami Dolphins; Dolphins head coach Don Shula called the defense "the 53" after the number of his defensive lineman, Bob Mathieson, who dropped off the line into a linebacker position. The 3-4 probably hit its peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s, though many teams, most notably the New York Giants with Lawrence Taylor as a pass rushing outside linebacker, ran the defense for years after that. Though the defense is not as popular as the 4-3 (probably due to concerns about stopping the run with a 3 man defensive line and smaller outside linebackers), the alignment still has its adherents. The defense probably creates better angles for pass rushers (primarily outside linebackers) than the 4-3 does for defensive ends.

Last edited by CHIP72; 03-20-2010 at 08:01 PM..
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Old 03-21-2010, 06:28 PM
 
Location: Tampa (by way of Omaha)
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Originally Posted by CHIP72 View Post
Though the defense is not as popular as the 4-3 (probably due to concerns about stopping the run with a 3 man defensive line and smaller outside linebackers), the alignment still has its adherents. The defense probably creates better angles for pass rushers (primarily outside linebackers) than the 4-3 does for defensive ends.
This is the only part I disagree with. The 4-3 is rapidly declining in popularity, mostly due to increased emphasis on the passing game. In today's NFL, the 3-4 is simply more effective than the 4-3. In fact, taking a look at the top half of the NFL defenses, only six of them run the 4-3 as their base alignment.
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Old 03-21-2010, 07:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosco55David View Post
This is the only part I disagree with. The 4-3 is rapidly declining in popularity, mostly due to increased emphasis on the passing game. In today's NFL, the 3-4 is simply more effective than the 4-3. In fact, taking a look at the top half of the NFL defenses, only six of them run the 4-3 as their base alignment.
Good points Bosco... plus, its easier to run a hybrid out of a 3-4, rush a corner and drop a fast linebacker, drop 6 into coverage, blitz, etc. The extra man is already 5-8 yards off of the line as the ball is snapped. Also "creates" an extra set of eyes, its easier to read a play from a short distance than from being right on top of it. As a surprise, in certain instances, a 2-5 can be deadly for a quarterback against a team with a top notch secondary. This is a rare play but still, its easier for teams to shift and adjust to the tempo and tendencies of the offence in the 3-4.
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Old 03-25-2010, 07:11 AM
 
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as a former OL, i always thought that even fronts were a superior run defense. 4-3 > 3-4, and 4-4 > 5-2 (even though the 5-2 is "supposedly" better, i never believed this)

something about odd man-fronts make it easy to run block, and that even-front with the DT's lined head up guards, can create a great deal of confusion among the OL, without too much defensive scheming.

however i think the 3-4 in particular is great against the pass, with all sorts of blitz schemes available. i like the way that Bama's defense combines safety blitzes with off tackle/edge blitzes. i don't watch much NFL, but i can see how a 3-4 or some form of the nickel would be ideal.
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