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4-3 Under, The Leo And The Falcons Multiple Defense

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A lot of confusion is still going on around this place in regards to what kind of defense we run, what Nolan prefers and what the "4-3 Leo" defense is. I want to start a thread to help clear the air

For starters, there is nothing called a 4-3 Leo defense. The Leo is the name of a position unique to the 4-3 Under. It's also called the Elephant. This is primarily what we run. Not a plain 4-3 like Chicago/Minny and not a 3-4. That's why the Big Tackle looks became a big part of our defense once Ray Edwards left. He was manning the 5T role, but wasn't a fit skill wise nor attitude wise. But the normal fan saw him as a traditional left end in a 4 man front.

Here is a breakdown from The Fifth Down of the 4-3 Under and the Elephant Rusher:

[Pete] Carroll worked on the same staff with Kiffin at Arkansas and with the Minnesota Vikings and claims Kiffin as his primary defensive influence. Along with the 4-3 Under, Carroll will be using a pass-rushing variation that was first popularized by George Seifert in San Francisco. Looking to create mismatches anywhere he could against opposing offensive lines, Seifert allowed his weakside defensive end to move around his defensive formation to rush the passer from either side of the defense from a two-point stance. Players like Charles Haley, Chris Doleman, Rickey Jackson and Tim Harris filled this “Elephant” role with great success.

With the Elephant rusher in a two-point stance and the strongside linebacker usually near the line of scrimmage as another capable pass rushing option, these defenses look like a 5-2 or 3-4 front.

08fifthdown-eleph-blogSpan.jpg

It’s somewhat of a semantic argument because there will be four players in a two-point stance behind three down defensive linemen, but this front is more like a 4-3 than a 3-4 because of how the three linemen line up. The lineman to the inside of the Elephant rusher is aligned as a 3-technique, something that you won’t see in a base 3-4 set. This look is essentially a 4-3 Under with a standup defensive end.

The confusion is this looks like a 3-4 or 5-2, like the article says, to the untrained eye. You have 3 DL with their hands in the dirt, normally bigger guys, and 2 players standing on the ends in pass rush stances. Where the distinction comes in is the personnel. Our 3 DT looks made since to be labeled a 3-4, except when looking at assignments. 3-4 defense have two 5-Tech ends and a NT. 4-3 Under has one 5T, a 1T and a 3T. Primary players in the draft that can fill these positions are Hageman (5T), Nix (1T) and Donald (3T). Those three players on the same line together would not be a 4-3 nor a 3-4 straight up. But they would be perfect fits in a 4-3 Under together.

Here is more information on eat individual position, broken down at FieldGulls.com, the Seahawks SBNation site (I added players from the draft that fit the positions as well):

The SAM linebacker comes up closer to the line to play hard contain and the weakside LEO is pushed out a bit, maybe a yard off of the weakside tackle. The LEO's main job is to control the C gap while rushing the passer like a wild banshee and the SAM plays contain against the TE, runs in pass coverage with him, or rushes the passer in some situations.

Here is the basic description of each position in the 4-3 Under.

The LEO can be a little bit smaller than a normal DE and tends to be a more athletic and versatile body type for this Elephant position; a guy that can speed rush the QB but also react quick enough to control his gap. Must also be able to drop back into coverage occasionally in zone blitz situations. (Perfect Fit: Kahlil Mack).

The strongside defensive tackle can be short and squat but must be able to take on a double team consistently. (Perfect Fit: Louis Nix).

The weakside defensive tackle, the 3-tech, must be your premiere interior pass rusher and have an explosive first step. His main job is to pressure the QB and stop the run in his weakside B gap. The 5-tech defensive end can be a bigger guy and must be great against the run. This is why you saw Red Bryant move out there in 2010. (Perfect Fit: Aaron Donald).

The SAM linebacker needs to be athletic and rangy; great against the run but able to run with tight ends and running backs in pass coverage. (Current Players: Bartu; Biermann/Perfect Fit: Kyle Van Noy).

The WILL linebacker is going to get a lot of tackles and in this system is typically a faster, smaller linebacker with range. (Current Player: Spoon/Perfect Fit: Ryan Shazier).

The MIKE linebacker needs to be the field general; very instinctual and savvy. He needs to be quick enough to drop back down the middle third of the field in pass coverage in the Tampa-2 coverage. (Current Player: Paul Worrilow/Perfect Fit: CJ Mosley).

The free safety is a guy that's going to move around a lot and be very instinctual as well. He's going to come up to the line a lot and will get a lot of tackles. (Current Player: Decoud/Perfect Fit: Calvin Pryor).

The strong safety has to be good against the run but like the free safety, will move around a lot and have to defend against the deep pass a lot. He will need to be fast and have some ball skills. (Current Player: WillyMo/Perfect Fit: Deone Bucannon).

Finally, the cornerbacks need to be physical and long. They will get involved in run defense a lot so they must be good tacklers. They are protected over the top a lot of the time so typically they're not all-world defenders but need to be pretty fast. (This is where our defense defers. Trufant, Alford and McClain aren't long and only moderately physical, but they can cover. Enables more blitzing for Nolan's touch.)

So now that we have laid the foundation for what we are looking for with our defense, this explains why a player like Goodman was added and where he fits in our defense. Worrilow isn't an all-world LB, but he is very instinctual and savvy. 100+ tackles in half a season says so. Bartu is highly athletic and rangy in the short to medium range. He's also strong against the run and a decent pass rusher. I don't agree with labeling him a SLB though.

FAs like Arthur Jones and Tyson Jackson make perfect sense to add. Think about Seattle's defense without Mebane or Red Bryant or even Alan Branch when he was there. Not the same team. That's what those guys would bring that we don't have. They already have experience in the role and wouldn't break the back. Obviously, guys like Joseph and Soliai fit the 0-1Tech role to a T. A player I see worth paying a decent contract for is Lamarr Houston. He's similar to what Wilkerson provides in NYJ at the 5T. Michael Johnson would be the more expensive option but could move from the 5 to the 3 to a big Leo.

The defense could see a big shift in talent to make the change from 4-3 BVG style to 4-3 Under Nolan style. Paired with MSalmon thread, and I think a lot of confusion will be cleared up on what players we will be looking at in the draft and FA.

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Good article and input! And yes it's confusing lol...I had a problem understanding why Nolan mixed long 43 types and 34 OLB types on roster until learning this that you posted. Awesome post!

Bullpup969 and vel like this

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Good article and input! And yes it's confusing lol...I had a problem understanding why Nolan mixed long 43 types and 34 OLB types on roster until learning this that you posted. Awesome post!

^^^^^

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Good article and input! And yes it's confusing lol...I had a problem understanding why Nolan mixed long 43 types and 34 OLB types on roster until learning this that you posted. Awesome post!

Yea I didn't agree with the Goodman pick until the season started. He is very good in run defense and is a solid interior pass rusher. Adding another player like him would give us depth there vs playing a squatty DT like we had to do. I knew Maponga and Mass were ideal fits as edge rushers, but I didn't think Bartu was an ideal SLB but he fits the description and characteristics.

Also, I think this ends any trade up talk for Clowney if it costs too much. He can only play limited snaps because he can't cover. Kahlil Mack is the ideal Leo at 6 and could even play the SAM. That's also why we would be interested in Barr as well. I think Donald is the perfect 3rd & long 3T in this defense as well. A guy like Cox will be screaming for him if he is there. It's also the perfect draft for DTs because they all won't go in the first. One of the top 5 will be there at our second pick (Nix, Tuitt, Hageman, Jernigan, Donald). I also think this NT class is pretty deep (D. Jones, Carrethers, Ellis) excluding McCullers, who doesn't require double teams despite his size. It's a match made in heaven draft for us.

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Yea I didn't agree with the Goodman pick until the season started. He is very good in run defense and is a solid interior pass rusher. Adding another player like him would give us depth there vs playing a squatty DT like we had to do. I knew Maponga and Mass were ideal fits as edge rushers, but I didn't think Bartu was an ideal SLB but he fits the description and characteristics.

Also, I think this ends any trade up talk for Clowney if it costs too much. He can only play limited snaps because he can't cover. Kahlil Mack is the ideal Leo at 6 and could even play the SAM. That's also why we would be interested in Barr as well. I think Donald is the perfect 3rd & long 3T in this defense as well. A guy like Cox will be screaming for him if he is there. It's also the perfect draft for DTs because they all won't go in the first. One of the top 5 will be there at our second pick (Nix, Tuitt, Hageman, Jernigan, Donald). I also think this NT class is pretty deep (D. Jones, Carrethers, Ellis) excluding McCullers, who doesn't require double teams despite his size. It's a match made in heaven draft for us.

Clowney I see because of his extreme rarity of skills...not sure trading up makes sense either. I'm torn. Tuitt is ideal addition. Nix, if healthy, is perfect nose and end. Donald is too big a cost for a situational guy. If he's in 3rd--sure. A first for a situational guy? Or early second? I'd pass. If we chose to let OL pass or fill in FA...I'd go this route in draft:

First round:

Tuitt

Nix

Mack (maybe as I'm still wondering about small school effect)

Mosley potentially--crazy athlete and scheme diverse

Clowney (depending on if available)

Barr--not fan favorite but tantalizing athleticism

Round 2:

Hageman

Van noy

Trent Murphy

Possibly D'Quan Jones (depending on combine)

Free Agency:

Linval Joseph

Soliai (forget Miami crap...he goes to get paid)

Tyson Jackson

Terrance Cody

Raji

Lamar Houston

Michael Johnson

The tricky part is how our existing OL fit into tice's plan. Does adding a beadle suffice? Do we need to add an OT early in first or second rounds?

Lastly, safety is issue. A guy like Malcom Jenkins fits perfect in Nolan's scheme

If I'm GM I'm signing:

Michael Johnson

Beadles (G Denver)

Linval Joseph

Soliai or Cody (or other NT)

Tyson Jackson (cheap 5 tech)

Malcom Jenkins

Before folks say too many FAs, remember in past we re-signed our guys. In this case we have expiring contracts. Also you basically exchange Assante and Decoud contract for an interior guy like Jackson and Jenkins.

Then I go first round:

Tuitt

Nix

Mack

Barr

Or OT

Second:

Add either OL or 5 tech or OLB/DE depending on what we draft in first

Third and beyond:

Ellis or Jones or carrethers girthy but Athletic interior guys

4th and beyond

Ed Stinson, Brent urban or other 5 tech

I'm not liking Donald due to his cost and snaps he may play. If I want UT type, bring Babs back cheap or look later

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Clowney I see because of his extreme rarity of skills...not sure trading up makes sense either. I'm torn. Tuitt is ideal addition. Nix, if healthy, is perfect nose and end. Donald is too big a cost for a situational guy. If he's in 3rd--sure. A first for a situational guy? Or early second? I'd pass. If we chose to let OL pass or fill in FA...I'd go this route in draft:

First round:

Tuitt

Nix

Mack (maybe as I'm still wondering about small school effect)

Mosley potentially--crazy athlete and scheme diverse

Clowney (depending on if available)

Barr--not fan favorite but tantalizing athleticism

Round 2:

Hageman

Van noy

Trent Murphy

Possibly D'Quan Jones (depending on combine)

Free Agency:

Linval Joseph

Soliai (forget Miami crap...he goes to get paid)

Tyson Jackson

Terrance Cody

Raji

Lamar Houston

Michael Johnson

The tricky part is how our existing OL fit into tice's plan. Does adding a beadle suffice? Do we need to add an OT early in first or second rounds?

Lastly, safety is issue. A guy like Malcom Jenkins fits perfect in Nolan's scheme

If I'm GM I'm signing:

Michael Johnson

Beadles (G Denver)

Linval Joseph

Soliai or Cody (or other NT)

Tyson Jackson (cheap 5 tech)

Malcom Jenkins

Before folks say too many FAs, remember in past we re-signed our guys. In this case we have expiring contracts. Also you basically exchange Assante and Decoud contract for an interior guy like Jackson and Jenkins.

Then I go first round:

Tuitt

Nix

Mack

Barr

Or OT

Second:

Add either OL or 5 tech or OLB/DE depending on what we draft in first

Third and beyond:

Ellis or Jones or carrethers girthy but Athletic interior guys

4th and beyond

Ed Stinson, Brent urban or other 5 tech

I'm not liking Donald due to his cost and snaps he may play. If I want UT type, bring Babs back cheap or look later

I honestly don't think Donald is too great a cost. He is the best 3T in the draft and we don't have one on the roster. After Jernigan and Donald, 3T talent drops off considerably. There is a lot of 5T and 0-1T talent in FA we can sign. Like you listed, Joseph, Soliai, Jackson and Houston are all fits and can be had without breaking the bank (Houston being the most expensive I think). There are no ideal fits available at Leo and 3T. That's where a 1-2 combo of Mack-Donald solves that. Slide Peters over to 3T (Achilles tears don't take forever to recover from, he will be back) and you have 3T depth now.

I don't think Jenkins fits because he isn't very good. He's average and I'd rather draft one. Jimmie Ward or Marqueston Huff would be good pick ups. But Jenkins is a name player, not a good player.

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Clowney I see because of his extreme rarity of skills...not sure trading up makes sense either. I'm torn. Tuitt is ideal addition. Nix, if healthy, is perfect nose and end. Donald is too big a cost for a situational guy. If he's in 3rd--sure. A first for a situational guy? Or early second? I'd pass. If we chose to let OL pass or fill in FA...I'd go this route in draft:

First round:

Tuitt

Nix

Mack (maybe as I'm still wondering about small school effect)

Mosley potentially--crazy athlete and scheme diverse

Clowney (depending on if available)

Barr--not fan favorite but tantalizing athleticism

Round 2:

Hageman

Van noy

Trent Murphy

Possibly D'Quan Jones (depending on combine)

Free Agency:

Linval Joseph

Soliai (forget Miami crap...he goes to get paid)

Tyson Jackson

Terrance Cody

Raji

Lamar Houston

Michael Johnson

The tricky part is how our existing OL fit into tice's plan. Does adding a beadle suffice? Do we need to add an OT early in first or second rounds?

Lastly, safety is issue. A guy like Malcom Jenkins fits perfect in Nolan's scheme

If I'm GM I'm signing:

Michael Johnson

Beadles (G Denver)

Linval Joseph

Soliai or Cody (or other NT)

Tyson Jackson (cheap 5 tech)

Malcom Jenkins

Before folks say too many FAs, remember in past we re-signed our guys. In this case we have expiring contracts. Also you basically exchange Assante and Decoud contract for an interior guy like Jackson and Jenkins.

Then I go first round:

Tuitt

Nix

Mack

Barr

Or OT

Second:

Add either OL or 5 tech or OLB/DE depending on what we draft in first

Third and beyond:

Ellis or Jones or carrethers girthy but Athletic interior guys

4th and beyond

Ed Stinson, Brent urban or other 5 tech

I'm not liking Donald due to his cost and snaps he may play. If I want UT type, bring Babs back cheap or look later

Nice post! Tuitt is an interesting pick because of these strengths: Tantalizing upside. Highly athletic frame despite massive size. Impressive combination of length, power and surprising quickness. Scheme versatility for the 3-4 and 4-3, possessing the size of most interior linemen while maintaining the quickness to provide a rush off the edge. He's projecting as a late 1st to early second rd pick.

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I honestly don't think Donald is too great a cost. He is the best 3T in the draft and we don't have one on the roster. After Jernigan and Donald, 3T talent drops off considerably. There is a lot of 5T and 0-1T talent in FA we can sign. Like you listed, Joseph, Soliai, Jackson and Houston are all fits and can be had without breaking the bank (Houston being the most expensive I think). There are no ideal fits available at Leo and 3T. That's where a 1-2 combo of Mack-Donald solves that. Slide Peters over to 3T (Achilles tears don't take forever to recover from, he will be back) and you have 3T depth now.

I don't think Jenkins fits because he isn't very good. He's average and I'd rather draft one. Jimmie Ward or Marqueston Huff would be good pick ups. But Jenkins is a name player, not a good player.

I agree Ward or Huff could be good value picks at safety. They are projecting Ward 2-3 round and Huff as a 5-6 round pick.

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I honestly don't think Donald is too great a cost. He is the best 3T in the draft and we don't have one on the roster. After Jernigan and Donald, 3T talent drops off considerably. There is a lot of 5T and 0-1T talent in FA we can sign. Like you listed, Joseph, Soliai, Jackson and Houston are all fits and can be had without breaking the bank (Houston being the most expensive I think). There are no ideal fits available at Leo and 3T. That's where a 1-2 combo of Mack-Donald solves that. Slide Peters over to 3T (Achilles tears don't take forever to recover from, he will be back) and you have 3T depth now.

I don't think Jenkins fits because he isn't very good. He's average and I'd rather draft one. Jimmie Ward or Marqueston Huff would be good pick ups. But Jenkins is a name player, not a good player.

Jenkins is very good,my friend lol we agree to disagree on that one. Donald? I see your point...kinda

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Maybe this will end the "we are switching to a 3-4" debate

Kinda. We are kinda switching to 34 that's where it gets confusing, it's a 34 or 43 with lots of each base defensive principles mixed in..confusing lol...I do think well load up on 5 techs which will be even more confusing lol

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Nice post! Tuitt is an interesting pick because of these strengths: Tantalizing upside. Highly athletic frame despite massive size. Impressive combination of length, power and surprising quickness. Scheme versatility for the 3-4 and 4-3, possessing the size of most interior linemen while maintaining the quickness to provide a rush off the edge. He's projecting as a late 1st to early second rd pick.

Agree. He's a guy that if healthy you can "reach" for if no trade down available and still feel true to your board

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Agree. He's a guy that if healthy you can "reach" for if no trade down available and still feel true to your board

With the Cox hiring and hopefully a new coaching philosophy this guy could be a beast for us if picked.

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With the Cox hiring and hopefully a new coaching philosophy this guy could be a beast for us if picked.

Yup agree. Tuitt to me is a guy you project as a high ceiling pro, look at all his tape, take his interviews, medical exams and combine into account and maybe take a risk to draft at 6 because he'll go at 15 but trade down can't happen but be happy about it.

Mack is harder to project. His combine will, be key and how he interviews. Regardless of ability, you've got to ask why buffalo? Why not Alabama or big school? Was he lacking mental acumen ? Football acumen? Late physical bloomer.l.you can't ignore small school thing in top ten picks

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Yup agree. Tuitt to me is a guy you project as a high ceiling pro, look at all his tape, take his interviews, medical exams and combine into account and maybe take a risk to draft at 6 because he'll go at 15 but trade down can't happen but be happy about it.

Mack is harder to project. His combine will, be key and how he interviews. Regardless of ability, you've got to ask why buffalo? Why not Alabama or big school? Was he lacking mental acumen ? Football acumen? Late physical bloomer.l.you can't ignore small school thing in top ten picks

Good stuff bro and I agree about Mack as well. The level of competition would be the first thing I look at.

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Good stuff bro and I agree about Mack as well. The level of competition would be the first thing I look at.

Thanks. And small school could be no factor. But he was a 2 star recruit out of high school and only liberty offered scholarship ..he ended up at buffalo when coaching staff left liberty. I know colleges miss out (I.e. Jerry rice), but today's college recruiters tend to project better. And he was 6'1" 225 or 230 out of high school which big schools usually don't pass on if athleticsm and frame to grow is there

Weird thing is I can't find info on net...why he was only offered at liberty

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Thanks. And small school could be no factor. But he was a 2 star recruit out of high school and only liberty offered scholarship ..he ended up at buffalo when coaching staff left liberty. I know colleges miss out (I.e. Jerry rice), but today's college recruiters tend to project better. And he was 6'1" 225 or 230 out of high school which big schools usually don't pass on if athleticsm and frame to grow is there

Weird thing is I can't find info on net...why he was only offered at liberty

Well you know the guy is probably going to be very motivated because he is coming from a small school and I'm sure he knows that some teams are going to consider that so I can see him probably trying to have a killer combine and pro day to help his case.

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With an explanation that detailed, it's really no wonder that the average poster here, continues to misunderstand what we run. It's why the word "hybrid" gets thrown around so often. Thanks for the writeup Vel. I'm sure that it took a while. Hopefully most will take the time to read it, and many will take the time to understand it.

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Well you know the guy is probably going to be very motivated because he is coming from a small school and I'm sure he knows that some teams are going to consider that so I can see him probably trying to have a killer combine and pro day to help his case.

All true. I'm paying attention to whether we interview him at combine or not

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Yea I didn't agree with the Goodman pick until the season started. He is very good in run defense and is a solid interior pass rusher. Adding another player like him would give us depth there vs playing a squatty DT like we had to do. I knew Maponga and Mass were ideal fits as edge rushers, but I didn't think Bartu was an ideal SLB but he fits the description and characteristics.

Also, I think this ends any trade up talk for Clowney if it costs too much. He can only play limited snaps because he can't cover. Kahlil Mack is the ideal Leo at 6 and could even play the SAM. That's also why we would be interested in Barr as well. I think Donald is the perfect 3rd & long 3T in this defense as well. A guy like Cox will be screaming for him if he is there. It's also the perfect draft for DTs because they all won't go in the first. One of the top 5 will be there at our second pick (Nix, Tuitt, Hageman, Jernigan, Donald). I also think this NT class is pretty deep (D. Jones, Carrethers, Ellis) excluding McCullers, who doesn't require double teams despite his size. It's a match made in heaven draft for us.

Man that is truly a great point, no doubt second round is where we should get our DT, I see Mack Robinson or Matthews at #6 and one of those DTs round 2. I would also like tp pick up another DT perhaps a guy like Zac Kerr around the 6th round.
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