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Bleacher Report- Falcons's To 3-4?

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FALCONS

The Atlanta Falcons cutting John Abraham signals that the move to the 3-4 will be happening. It makes the most sense based on the current personnel and the investment they will have to make this offseason.

John Abraham getting cut after seven years and 68.5 sacks in Atlanta was a huge shock to the Falcons fanbase. However, all is not lost. Abraham was 35 years old and isn't a great fit for a 3-4 defense that would have him drop into coverage a ton.

Mike Nolan prefers more versatility out of his defensive ends and outside linebackers than Abraham could provide at this point in his career. Nonetheless, the move to a 3-4 was something that was held up only by having Abraham on the roster.

Now the Falcons can go with more speed, additional linebackers on the team for special teams help and additional bulk in the middle of the defense. The 3-4 switch could help the Falcons' two biggest defensive issues—getting to the quarterback and stuffing the run.

After the releases of Dunta Robinson and Abraham, the Atlanta Falcons currently have just 21 defensive players under contract for the 2013 season. According to Spotrac, the Falcons currently have the following players under contract on the defensive side of the ball:

Defensive linemen: Jonathan Babineaux, Peria Jerry, Corey Peters, Travian Robertson, Micanor Regis and Cliff Matthews

Linebackers: Stephen Nicholas, Sean Weatherspoon, Akeem Dent, Jonathan Massaquoi, Robert James, Kroy Biermann and Pat Schiller

Defensive backs: Asante Samuel, Dominique Franks, Terrence Johnson, Peyton Thompson, Robert McClain, Thomas DeCoud, Shann Schillinger and Charles Mitchell

Jonathan Massaquoi (96) and Travian Robertson (92) would be keys to the Falcons 3-4 switch.

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

This group doesn't look super talented on the surface. Nor does it look like a great fit for the 3-4, again on the surface. Digging deeper into it, though, you see a ton of guys with projections into the 3-4 or 4-3 on their draft-pick scouting bios.

There's a ton of versatility to run either scheme, and as far as the depth chart is concerned, I'd expect it to look something very similar to this in the 3-4 using just players currently under contract:

Strong-side defensive end: Corey Peters starting, Travian Robertson backing up.

Nose tackle: Peria Jerry starting. No backups.

Weak-side defensive end: Jonathan Babineaux starting, Micanor Regis backing up.

Strong outside linebacker: Stephen Nicholas starting, Kroy Biermann backing up.

Strong inside linebacker: Sean Weatherspoon starting, Robert James backing up.

Weak inside linebacker: Akeem Dent starting, Pat Schiller backing up.

Weak outside linebacker: Jonathan Massaquoi starting, Cliff Matthews backing up.

Left cornerback: Asante Samuel starting, Peyton Thompson backing up.

Right cornerback: Dominique Franks starting, Terrence Johnson backing up.

Nickel cornerback: Robert McClain starting, no backups.

Free safety: Thomas DeCoud starting, Charles Mitchell backing up.

Strong safety: Shann Schillinger starting, no backups.

There are a couple of small holes in the team—mainly at pass-rusher, strong safety, right cornerback and nose tackle. Ideally, the Falcons re-sign William Moore at strong safety and Brent Grimes at right corner to fill those holes.

They have some really good pass-rushers on the team currently, but adding some in the draft should be expected. The nose tackle situation is one that needs to be explored even further. There are some main takeaways from the possible 3-4 switch:

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

D-Block will have a larger membership

This one is more for the fans. This past season, "D-Block"—the Atlanta Falcons official website show centered on the Falcons linebacker corps—had just six members. However, with a switch to the 3-4, the linebacker corps would include at least another two members.

Of those two to three guys, they'd have to include "Hollywood" Kroy Biermann, Cliff Matthews and Jonathan Massaquoi at a minimum. They likely would also include a high draft pick or big-name free agent this season as the Falcons need another outside pass-rusher.

As we learned last season, D-Block can be a fun time and has a huge following among the Falcons fanbase. Adding in the draft picks and combination of Biermann, Matthews and Massaquoi will only make it much more fun to watch this season.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Biermann is much more valuable in the 3-4

Despite never being thought of as a starter by most analysts, Kroy Biermann has earned his spot in the lineup both in 2010 and 2012 as the starter over more expensive and higher investment options like Ray Edwards and Jamaal Anderson.

In Mike Nolan's defense in 2012, he proved to be a valuable asset in all sets. But the biggest advantage that he gave Atlanta was in the "amoeba" sets as someone who would drop back after the snap into the free safety's role.

He's no more than a four- or five-sack performer, but he can set the edge against the run and would be the best fit at strong outside linebacker in a move to the 3-4. He has potential to be on the level of Jarret Johnson in the role.

http://img.bleacherr...=650&h=440&q=85Jonathan Babineaux (95) and Corey Peters (91) will need a big body between them for the 3-4 switch.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

NT is a huge need on the defense

When the starting nose tackle in the defense would be Peria Jerry, it's a huge need. The Falcons are very lucky that this year's draft is extremely deep on the defensive line and with pass-rushers. They should spend three picks in the front seven to complete it as far as talent is concerned.

Should the Falcons switch to a 3-4?

Yes. The 3-4 is the wave of the now.No. The 4-3 is what matters most.No. Run a multiple defense like what they ran in 2012.Does it matter? The Falcons run more nickel than anything else.Submit Vote vote to see results

Nonetheless, the biggest spot they need is nose tackle. This could be the true dark horse for the first-round pick. The Falcons would do best to take a guy who could play either the 0-technique, 1-technique or even 2-technique, though.

The best fit would be a player like Jesse Williams of Alabama or Kawann Short of Purdue. Those players have great fits in the 3-4 scheme that Mike Nolan would run in 2013. Unfortunately, they would require the Falcons' first-round pick.

It may be too much of an investment to bring in the key part for the switch. But in the end, if Thomas Dimitroff, Mike Nolan and Mike Smith feel building toward a 3-4 is the best plan of action, it gives everyone a great idea of what the Falcons' first-round pick will be.

All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus's Premium Stats, ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy Spotrac and Rotoworld. All recruiting rankings come from 247Sports.com.

Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.

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(article had some nice photos but idk how to add all of those)

I know it is just a bleacher report article... but the move to a 3-4 is coming.

Like Knight of God and I talked about earlier though, I am sure we will still run a lot of big nickel looks and things like that. The impact is mainly going to be on the types of players we draft now.

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Stopped reading when I saw Peria Jelly at the NT position.

Well it's basically saying he is "penciled in" but he wont be when the season gets here.

NT is a huge need on the defense

When the starting nose tackle in the defense would be Peria Jerry, it's a huge need. The Falcons are very lucky that this year's draft is extremely deep on the defensive line and with pass-rushers. They should spend three picks in the front seven to complete it as far as talent is concerned.

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Well it's basically saying he is "penciled in" but he wont be when the season gets here.

NT is a huge need on the defense

When the starting nose tackle in the defense would be Peria Jerry, it's a huge need. The Falcons are very lucky that this year's draft is extremely deep on the defensive line and with pass-rushers. They should spend three picks in the front seven to complete it as far as talent is concerned.

Definitely agree on spending our first 3 pick on the front seven. It needs to be revamped no matter what formation we run.

PokerSteve and bigatlfan2 like this

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Definitely agree on spending our first 3 pick on the front seven. It needs to be revamped no matter what formation we run.

yup... well unless we pick up a pass rusher in free agency. Going to be interesting to see what happens with grimes. May need a corner early.

I just can't wait for free agency to get here.... the suspense is awful

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i think we were prepping for the switch all season, including with what we drafted last year. We are more suited for the 3-4 with our current personell and i think its coming.

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You're going to see a lot of things, but the 3-4 has been here since Nolan came.

Just real quick on what I know from studying the hybrid. You have to have versatile players who can play 3-4/4-3/46/4-2-5/3-3-5/4-1-6/3-2-6. If you are Belichick you need players for the 1-5-5.

Its a lot less of a lazy ordeal and puts a bit more pressure on getting certain draft picks who can do both. Its not easy. The Steelers are more of a static 3-4 with a modified cover 2.

The Ravens are a tricked out modded 3-4/3-3-5 monster that can switch from one to the other. The 49ers are a 3-4/4-3 hybrid that is more static in its use than most hybrids.

There is no one way to use a hybrid. We've actually had a similar defense before under Wade Phillips. Only personnel had to be rushed in every play.

The hybrid Belichick runs is, "Whatever is right at the moment. No such bird as a "base". Nolan runs a highly aggressive form of a hybrid. My football buddies call it the Decepticon. Even announcers have no clue. It frustrates rival coaches and the numbers usually make it look unsuccessful.

I want to say before I get into this. I love explaining this, but my explanations are flawed. Nolan did not ever sit down and teach me this, but I was taught. This stuff is really obvious when you take a closer look.

The hybrid is called the hybrid because you can do anything while on the field. Not pulling guys out constantly. So you actually need 3 down players. (yeah use it against me...) You have to have a RE/OLB hybrid player (not called a tweener all of the time), a NT (sort of, you can use a violent DL who is not a typical NT), UT/DE hybrid, and a LE/DE player who could be anyone. You normally want a big guy here, but you don't have to. Tall works too. I think the prototype is 6'4" 280 or something. I don't have my material handy.

The LB's really eat this one up. Some OLB/RE's are still looked upon as RE's, but are paid like OLB...so they are listed as OLB. Some are paid like RE's and are called RE's. It just depends. In-house some 3-4's are still called 5-2. Now your two inside LB's are your two best friends. One will play OLB in the 4-3 and ILB in the 3-4, then the other guy is the MLB/ILB (you would be surprised what Ray Lewis was actually playing). Then you have a guy who will always be OLB. Nothing else. He's the one guy who can be anything at any time. (Stephen Nicholas as the example)

Secondary is about the same. Only one thing, you normally want your SOLB to have cover skills. Now I'll tell you why.

The Hybrid. Those positions don't shift on the sideline. The front man (usually an ILB) calls the play like a QB in the West Coast Offense (its offensive counterpart, hence the use of an H-Back and needing certain types of RB's) and the formation changes on the field. SOLB drops as the fifth DB in a 3-3-5 and everyone scoots, or WOLB drops into a three point stance, scooting the squad into a 4-3. The most telling is when WOLB drops into a three point stance and SOLB goes into coverage leaving the two ILB in the middle (4-2-5).

Its not a hybrid because you use one this time and use one that time. Its a hybrid because it changes on the field during the QB's cadence.

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You're going to see a lot of things, but the 3-4 has been here since Nolan came.

Just real quick on what I know from studying the hybrid. You have to have versatile players who can play 3-4/4-3/46/4-2-5/3-3-5/4-1-6/3-2-6. If you are Belichick you need players for the 1-5-5.

Its a lot less of a lazy ordeal and puts a bit more pressure on getting certain draft picks who can do both. Its not easy. The Steelers are more of a static 3-4 with a modified cover 2.

The Ravens are a tricked out modded 3-4/3-3-5 monster that can switch from one to the other. The 49ers are a 3-4/4-3 hybrid that is more static in its use than most hybrids.

There is no one way to use a hybrid. We've actually had a similar defense before under Wade Phillips. Only personnel had to be rushed in every play.

The hybrid Belichick runs is, "Whatever is right at the moment. No such bird as a "base". Nolan runs a highly aggressive form of a hybrid. My football buddies call it the Decepticon. Even announcers have no clue. It frustrates rival coaches and the numbers usually make it look unsuccessful.

I want to say before I get into this. I love explaining this, but my explanations are flawed. Nolan did not ever sit down and teach me this, but I was taught. This stuff is really obvious when you take a closer look.

The hybrid is called the hybrid because you can do anything while on the field. Not pulling guys out constantly. So you actually need 3 down players. (yeah use it against me...) You have to have a RE/OLB hybrid player (not called a tweener all of the time), a NT (sort of, you can use a violent DL who is not a typical NT), UT/DE hybrid, and a LE/DE player who could be anyone. You normally want a big guy here, but you don't have to. Tall works too. I think the prototype is 6'4" 280 or something. I don't have my material handy.

The LB's really eat this one up. Some OLB/RE's are still looked upon as RE's, but are paid like OLB...so they are listed as OLB. Some are paid like RE's and are called RE's. It just depends. In-house some 3-4's are still called 5-2. Now your two inside LB's are your two best friends. One will play OLB in the 4-3 and ILB in the 3-4, then the other guy is the MLB/ILB (you would be surprised what Ray Lewis was actually playing). Then you have a guy who will always be OLB. Nothing else. He's the one guy who can be anything at any time. (Stephen Nicholas as the example)

Secondary is about the same. Only one thing, you normally want your SOLB to have cover skills. Now I'll tell you why.

The Hybrid. Those positions don't shift on the sideline. The front man (usually an ILB) calls the play like a QB in the West Coast Offense (its offensive counterpart, hence the use of an H-Back and needing certain types of RB's) and the formation changes on the field. SOLB drops as the fifth DB in a 3-3-5 and everyone scoots, or WOLB drops into a three point stance, scooting the squad into a 4-3. The most telling is when WOLB drops into a three point stance and SOLB goes into coverage leaving the two ILB in the middle (4-2-5).

Its not a hybrid because you use one this time and use one that time. Its a hybrid because it changes on the field during the QB's cadence.

We need Nolan and whatever formation to adequately stop the pistol, triple option formations. Or we will be in a shootout almost every time against teams that run it.

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Stopped reading when I saw Peria Jelly at the NT position.

This ^

Lost all credibility with that statement right there. If anyone on our roster could play the nose in a 3-4 it is Travian Robertson. Honestly Peria may be the last option on our entire D line that i would want to play NT lol awful awful awful

Also i don't see how Abe would be such a horrible fit in a 3-4. Yeah he wouldn't be able to hang with a very speedy RB, but not many OLB's can. He could be used just like he is now, on a pass rushing basis. I just don't see that as the reason he was cut. It had to be mainly because of his cap hit.

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We need Nolan and whatever formation to adequately stop the pistol, triple option formations. Or we will be in a shootout almost every time against teams that run it.

You know what happened? The personnel is geared around BvG's system still. BBDB is a mentality as much as a system. Not meaning soft, but in reads.

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(article had some nice photos but idk how to add all of those)

I know it is just a bleacher report article... but the move to a 3-4 is coming.

Like Knight of God and I talked about earlier though, I am sure we will still run a lot of big nickel looks and things like that. The impact is mainly going to be on the types of players we draft now.

I think its coming manly because its easier to find pass rushers as an under sized guy may not have the same effect in a 4-3 say a guy like Von Miller played here he would not be the same player playing in a 4-3 as teams would constantly run at him

Look at Margus Hunt or Michael Johnson how many guys are 6-7 280 and that athletic and athletic enough to play inside and outside not many

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You're going to see a lot of things, but the 3-4 has been here since Nolan came.

Just real quick on what I know from studying the hybrid. You have to have versatile players who can play 3-4/4-3/46/4-2-5/3-3-5/4-1-6/3-2-6. If you are Belichick you need players for the 1-5-5.

Its a lot less of a lazy ordeal and puts a bit more pressure on getting certain draft picks who can do both. Its not easy. The Steelers are more of a static 3-4 with a modified cover 2.

The Ravens are a tricked out modded 3-4/3-3-5 monster that can switch from one to the other. The 49ers are a 3-4/4-3 hybrid that is more static in its use than most hybrids.

There is no one way to use a hybrid. We've actually had a similar defense before under Wade Phillips. Only personnel had to be rushed in every play.

The hybrid Belichick runs is, "Whatever is right at the moment. No such bird as a "base". Nolan runs a highly aggressive form of a hybrid. My football buddies call it the Decepticon. Even announcers have no clue. It frustrates rival coaches and the numbers usually make it look unsuccessful.

I want to say before I get into this. I love explaining this, but my explanations are flawed. Nolan did not ever sit down and teach me this, but I was taught. This stuff is really obvious when you take a closer look.

The hybrid is called the hybrid because you can do anything while on the field. Not pulling guys out constantly. So you actually need 3 down players. (yeah use it against me...) You have to have a RE/OLB hybrid player (not called a tweener all of the time), a NT (sort of, you can use a violent DL who is not a typical NT), UT/DE hybrid, and a LE/DE player who could be anyone. You normally want a big guy here, but you don't have to. Tall works too. I think the prototype is 6'4" 280 or something. I don't have my material handy.

The LB's really eat this one up. Some OLB/RE's are still looked upon as RE's, but are paid like OLB...so they are listed as OLB. Some are paid like RE's and are called RE's. It just depends. In-house some 3-4's are still called 5-2. Now your two inside LB's are your two best friends. One will play OLB in the 4-3 and ILB in the 3-4, then the other guy is the MLB/ILB (you would be surprised what Ray Lewis was actually playing). Then you have a guy who will always be OLB. Nothing else. He's the one guy who can be anything at any time. (Stephen Nicholas as the example)

Secondary is about the same. Only one thing, you normally want your SOLB to have cover skills. Now I'll tell you why.

The Hybrid. Those positions don't shift on the sideline. The front man (usually an ILB) calls the play like a QB in the West Coast Offense (its offensive counterpart, hence the use of an H-Back and needing certain types of RB's) and the formation changes on the field. SOLB drops as the fifth DB in a 3-3-5 and everyone scoots, or WOLB drops into a three point stance, scooting the squad into a 4-3. The most telling is when WOLB drops into a three point stance and SOLB goes into coverage leaving the two ILB in the middle (4-2-5).

Its not a hybrid because you use one this time and use one that time. Its a hybrid because it changes on the field during the QB's cadence.

Good stuff, man. I always love it when I can learn new things on this forum. I may not agree with your opinion of Dimitroff but no one can doubt your knowledge of defensive football.

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I saw on Profootballfocus, Abraham played more snaps this year standing up, than he did with his hand in the dirt, so I don't think this signals any change at all... we will continue to be a Hybrid of both alignments

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They released Abraham so of course they are moving to a 3-4

They released Turner so of course they are going to be pass happy!

Hey --same logic trail

I'm not a fan of the Bleacher report(s)

Diss and Knight of God like this

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Using KoG's explanation, that is why I think Datone Jones and John Jenkins are prime targets at #30. They can play in any front and disrupt. If a guy like Jarvis Jones or Damontre Moore falls though, it's tough to pass on those guys as well.

Kang, DMT11, PokerSteve and 1 other like this

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yep ^ i think ppl will think its more 3-4 bu its still just a hybrid defense - plenty of them are these days, Steelers u can get away with saying they are a 3-4 most of the time. - Let Nolan build a Defense like we have built our Offense - and we are going to not have to sit through this 4th quarter bullish anymore, although - weve got to find away to keep our players, I fear when when Julios deal is up.

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Good stuff, man. I always love it when I can learn new things on this forum. I may not agree with your opinion of Dimitroff but no one can doubt your knowledge of defensive football.

Thanks man.

Well we were not successful in a hybrid defense. Hopefully we stick to 3-4 or 4-3.

Takes more than one year to see its returns.

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Well we were not successful in a hybrid defense. Hopefully we stick to 3-4 or 4-3.

I think that was because the Falcons D lacked the talent last season. With Nolan's 2nd year of having FA and probably more input in this year's draft that should change.

No matter what scheme a defense runs, at the end of the day you have to have talent for it to work.

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Well we were not successful in a hybrid defense. Hopefully we stick to 3-4 or 4-3.

#5 scoring defense

Although we are technically a 4-3, we may have had more plays in a 3-4 this year. Which is why i don't see why we would not go ahead and call a switch there. Or can a defense's base defense be a hybrid defense?:P

The hybrid defense we ran and the schemes we had each week is why our defense looked good so often. We were compensating for our lack of talent with scheme and clever play calling.

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#5 scoring defense

Although we are technically a 4-3, we may have had more plays in a 3-4 this year. Which is why i don't see why we would not go ahead and call a switch there. Or can a defense's base defense be a hybrid defense?tongue.png

The hybrid defense we ran and the schemes we had each week is why our defense looked good so often. We were compensating for our lack of talent with scheme and clever play calling.

;)

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