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  1. First, I'm not saying we are not switching. Just that it makes no sense too. Not going to explain why here, but there are a lot of incorrect "facts" and asumptions about a 3 - 4 defense, so I'm going to explain them. Feel free to disagree with me. The 3 - 4 has not been around for as long as a 4 - 3. It was created by the Oklahoma HC back in the late 40's or early 50's I beleive to stop the run. Fundimentally, it is great against the run, but has a lot of weaknesses against the pass because it relies on LB's to cover 3rd or 4th receivers and relies on sending at least one LB to rush on passing downs. There is always a hole in the defense against the pass when running a 3 - 4, always (there are not any in a 4 - 3 base). The 3 - 4 is considered an attacking defense, where the 4 - 3 is a reactionary defense. This is because the QB does not know where the 4th or 5th rusher may be coming from. You can also stunt a lot more out of a 3 - 4. Now, responsibilities are what make a 3 - 4 and 4 - 3 completely different. In a 4 - 3 the DE's first responsibility is outside contain. That means they cannot let any ball carrier beyond their outside shoulder. There second responsibility is back side support on rushes to the other side of the center (sweeps, quick dives) and then their third responsibility is getting to the QB. The way to beat a 4 - 3 DE is to run a counter dive (start the running play to the other side of the line and have the RB cut back at the DE who might be out of place) or run right at them (or trap them) if they commit to the pass to quickly. The 4 - 3 DE has to chuck or disrupt the TE leaving the LOS on a passing play. That is vital to disrupt quick seam passes or slants to the TE. Okay, those are the basics for a 4 - 3 DE. A 3 - 4 DE has totally different jobs. First, is the 3 - 4 a gap or straight (sometimes called zero technique) alignment (makes a huge difference on how the LB's play. Generally, in a gap 3 - 4 the DE to the strong side of the field will play the C gap, or as some of our posters like to say, the 5 technique. This menas they line up outside shoulder of the tackle to the strong side and are responsible for stopping anything between the inside shoulder of the tackle to the outside shoulder of the TE (or where it would be if there is no TE). The weak side DE plays a 3 technique which means he lines up on the outside shoulder of the weak guard and is responsible for everything between the inside shoulder of the guard and the outside shoulder of the tackle. The NT will play the 1 technique to the strong side. Again the responsibility is to controll about 3 yards of dirt. My old college DC use to scream at the DE's "I don't care if you ever make a tackle in your college career as long as you control your gap, you better never loose your gap". If a 3 - 4 DE controls the gap he is going to usually eat two blockers on the side of the field that the offense is running. It is secondary for a 3 - 4 DE to rush the passer, but good ones can read the guards feet well and get a good push. A zero alignment means that the NT is directly over the center (1 technique in a gap defense) and the DE's are lined up over the tackles. I don't think anyone plays a straight zero 3 - 4 unless the offense is evenly set and there is no strong side (4 WR and 1 RB sets). Usually, when the strong side of the field is declared (usually by a LB) the weak side DT will slide to a 3 technique (This is to cover the weak MLB from being blocked by the weak guard). In a zero (or whatever the DC calls it) set you don't play the gap, you do what's called reading you key, so on the strong side the DE will react to what the OT does. If the OT blocks down the DE crashes down hard, if the OT pass blocks the DE bull rushes hard, if the OT trys to reach the DE (block the outside shoulder of the DE) the DE scrapes down the LOS to the sideline and looks for the ball carrier. Now, the two DT's in a 4 - 3 generally have a lane asignment. Some people call this a gap asignment but honestly I never heard that until about 10 years ago. Basically speaking a 4 - 3 DT is responsible for penitration of a gap and to either put pressure on the QB or disrupt the running play. It relies more on penetration and collapsing the pocket. This is why the front alignment is different in a 4 - 3 than a 3 - 4. A 3 - 4 DE and NT try and control the LOS and stop the run and then get to the QB (where the LB's are the primary pass rushers). A 4 - 3 DE is responsible for stoping running plays outside the TE and then pass rush and the DT try and disrupt vertically and cause issues with the running and passing lanes. See the difference. That is just the basics of the line. The LB's have totally differnent responsibilities as well, but it would be to long to post. I know what most people are going to say: 1. Why don't we just tell are players to do things differently and 2. We run a hybrid so it doesnt matter; No and Wrong. A 4 - 3 defensive end has learned how to protect his outside arm and shoulder and how to read the TE and Tackle very quickly. They have to be faster than 3 - 4 DE's because they have to prevent fast RB's and QB's from getting outside (losing the edge). The 4 - 3 DE has to be bigger than the 3 - 4 OLB because they have to fight off blocks from 320 pound OT's almost every play. Generally, 4 - 3 DE's are hard to find because they have to be big and fast. 3 - 4 OLB have to be faster and are usually not as big where 3 - 4 DE's are slower, but bigger. It's a subtil difference but most 4 - 3 DE's cannot play 3 - 4 OLB becasue the offense will just design passing plays at them and remember the 3 - 4 is already weak agains the pass (compared to the 4 - 3). Now hybrids. You can run a 4 - 3 base and pull one DT, shift a DE down to 5 and slide a CB to the weak side. Usually in a 4 - 2 you will shift the SS to weak MLB and leave the CB is the SS position. You can also pull a DT and put a 4th LB on the field who may line up in a 3 - 4 position or get down in a three point stance and it will look like a 4 - 3. The difference between a hybrid and a "base" defense is that in a hybrid you still have your base responsibilities, so if you run a 4 - 3 hybrid with a nickle back or a 4th LB, you may look like a 3 - 4 in alignment, but you still have the same responsibilities as if you were in a 4 - 3. That is the difference and the point that a lot of people are missing and that is why TD said we are staying in a 4 - 3 base with a lot more 3 - 4 looks. We are going to run Soliai as the 4 - 3 over DT, Babs as the 3 - 4 under DT probably Osi (if he is still here) at one DE and Jackson as another DE. They will still be running a 4 - 3 base defense, but they may pull Babs out and stick in a nickle back or maybe Bierman as a 4th LB, shift Jackson to 5 or pull a DE out to 9 and have him stand up (will look exactly like a 3 - 4), but we are not in a 3 - 4, we are in a 3 - 4 look playing a 4 - 3 base. The whole intent is to confuse the QB. We are still going to get our push from four linement and drop into a lot of zones (and don't get me started on the secondary differences between a base 3 - 4 and 4 - 3). Unless you know the defensive call the only way to tell the difference is to watch what each player does and know their responsibilities. So disagree all you want. This is how it was explained to me over about 12 years that I played ball from JH to college. It gets a lot more complicated in college and even more so in the pros.
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