Jump to content

Basic Concepts Of A 3 - 4 Defense (What Most People Don't Understand)


Recommended Posts

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 50
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Days

Top Posters In This Topic

The Falcons could just be running the hybrid with more 3-4 concepts.

The Ravens style defense comes to mind because they play both 3-4 and 4-3 Under schemes.

You can run a 3 - 4 base and a 4 - 3 base, but... It is very, very hard to find players that can do both well. you might have one or two, but to find 11 that can do it???? Pro offenses will find you weakness and the guys who are over matched.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can run a 3 - 4 base and a 4 - 3 base, but... It is very, very hard to find players that can do both well. you might have one or two, but to find 11 that can do it???? Pro offenses will find you weakness and the guys who are over matched.

With 3-4 personnel, they can easily run both 3-4 and 4-3 Under packages.

The 4-3 Under is just a 4-3 with a lot of 3-4 personnel.

They both share many similar concepts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With 3-4 personnel, they can easily run both 3-4 and 4-3 Under packages.

The 4-3 Under is just a 4-3 with a lot of 3-4 personnel.

They both share many similar concepts.

A 4 - 3 under just means the entire OL is shifted weak so the strong DE is playing the 5. It is stronger against the run but sacrifices the edge rushing of the strong DE if the TE blocks and the Sam has to play contain. In a 3 - 4 the NT will never shift weak. It would totally expose the strong MLB and SS to being blocked.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

End of the day we just need a variety of body types and skill sets to make his hybrid run. I'm sick of the word hybrid actually, considering most teams run a variety of fronts anyway.

Good write up. And good on pioli and TD for grabbing a 5 tech body capable of playing in 4 man front (Jackson) and a big hoss to man the nose in both alignments in Soliali. I did a giant analysis of past Nolan rosters and really the only DL that doesn't fit the normal Nolan profile is Babs. He's a bit more of a penetrator but he has demonstrated the ability to play both fronts so I get it,

So in short, it's always the same. Right folks for the schemes we've finally moved past the Tampa 2 personnel into the Nolan hybrid personnel.

I still think we draft another 5 tech body type (brent urban or Tuitt) and a NT (D. Jones or Ellis maybe)

Good write up

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yep. This.

Pure 3-4 base gives us more versatility (imo) and better run D.

A 3 - 4 is already stronger against the run than a 4 - 3 because the two DE's and NT are responsible for total control of the LOS except the weak A gap and strong B gap which are the first two reads of the MLB. The strong MLB should be able to take on the lead blocker in the B gap and the WMLB should be free every play if the weak DE does his job. In a 4 - 3 there is always a blocker unaccounted for to this the MLB, so he has to be fast enough to clog the running lane and allow back side pursuit to make the tackle. Fundimental difference but important. If your weak DE in a 3 - 4 cannot eat that guard you are looking at a big gain. Also, the strong MLB in a 3 - 4 is usually bigger and slower than 4 - 3 MLB because he has to attack the line hard on running plays and clog the strong B gap.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A 4 - 3 under just means the entire OL is shifted weak so the strong DE is playing the 5. It is stronger against the run but sacrifices the edge rushing of the strong DE if the TE blocks and the Sam has to play contain. In a 3 - 4 the NT will never shift weak. It would totally expose the strong MLB and SS to being blocked.

5-techs are used in both 3-4 and 4-3 Under sets.

The SAM LB in the 4-3 Under has the responsibility of covering the TE and helping in the run game just like the SLB in a 3-4.

The main differences between both schemes is that the 4-3 Under uses a 4-3 UT while the 3-4 uses a bigger body DE on the right side of the NT. The 4-3 under also has the weakside DE/LB hybrid pass rusher line up most of the time in a 9-tech.

As for the NT, it mostly depends on whether it is a 1 gap or 2 gap scheme because a 3-4 can be either.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is exactly what I said. Do you see how the entire Dline is shifted weak and the Sam now has outside contain. Great for improving against the run, but unless you send 5 or your Oline just sucks, it's easy to block because you lose one of your pass rush specialist.

The Seahawks played the 4-3 Under a lot in the SB and it did not stop them from getting to Peyton with their front 4.

It is all about personnel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5-techs are used in both 3-4 and 4-3 Under sets.

The SAM LB in the 4-3 Under has the responsibility of covering the TE and helping in the run game just like the SLB in a 3-4.

The main differences between both schemes is that the 4-3 Under uses a 4-3 UT while the 3-4 uses a bigger body DE on the right side of the NT. The 4-3 under also has the weakside DE/LB hybrid pass rusher line up most of the time in a 9-tech.

As for the NT, it mostly depends on whether it is a 1 gap or 2 gap scheme because a 3-4 can be either.

Your info is incorrect. Not sure where you got it but a 4 - 3 has an under and over tackle on every alignment. In a 4 - 3 alignement the sam almost always has strong side run support and the SS covers the TE in man. The Sam in a 4 - 3 zone is responsible for the flat. You really wouldn't want a Sam trying to cover a TE in man coverage. That would be stupid.

Yes, a 3 - 4 and 4 - 3 both have people over the 5. It just means where they line up. Not how they play. A 4 - 3 DE playing a 5 has totally different responsibilties than a 3 - 4 DT playing a 5. I could never imagine a 4 - 3 DT playing a 5 because you would have a freaking hole 10 feet wide in your Dline. You do line a DT at 5 in a 46.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Seahawks played the 4-3 Under a lot in the SB and it did not stop them from getting to Peyton with their front 4.

It is all about personnel.

I agree and said same thing, it's the right mix of size and skills. The discussion in alignment is overblown. Interestingly enough one reason the Seahawks moved to the 43 under was to better utilize red Bryant's skill sets,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Seahawks played the 4-3 Under a lot in the SB and it did not stop them from getting to Peyton with their front 4.

It is all about personnel.

Yes, agree completely. You are still fundimentally running a pass rush first defense with the under, but the difference is your DE, now at 5 is going to get hit by the OT immediately and it's hard for them to get a speed rush. Your weak DE plays normally, and if you get a push up the middle and send Sam you will kill the QB. It's just stronger against the run than a base 4 - 3, but it's still pass first oriented.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is exactly what I said. Do you see how the entire Dline is shifted weak and the Sam now has outside contain. Great for improving against the run, but unless you send 5 or your Oline just sucks, it's easy to block because you lose one of your pass rush specialist.

Your 3-tech DE has One on One up the middle to get to the QB and to prevent the QB from stepping up. The LEO is the main pass rush specialist. You do not really lose a pass rusher. Sure compared to the 4-3 traditional, but I think the gains in run stopping are well worth it.

Seattle runs this defense(Their players names are on the side). Would you like to tell Peyton Manning that it is easy to block? I do not remember them sending 5 very often.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree and said same thing, it's the right mix of size and skills. The discussion in alignment is overblown. Interestingly enough one reason the Seahawks moved to the 43 under was to better utilize red Bryant's skill sets,

Very good point. It is all about personnel. But like I said before. It is hard to play both a 4 - 3 and 3 - 4 at every position. There are subtle difference and once you learn a technique it is hard to adjust to something fundimentally different. I was, because of my size a better fit for a 3 - 4 weak MLB. I had a hard time in college because I was only 235 and in the '80s strong MLB in a 3 - 4 needed to be around 245. I could also play 4 - 3 OLB and MLB but I was too slow against big schools to stand up at MLB in a 4 - 3, my technique was not good enough to shed unblocked OG's against the run.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Stop it. 4-3 defenses cant cover 10 or 11 personnel either. There are these things called sub packages. Learn them. NFL defenses use them about 50% of the time.

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).

Kinda depends on who the offense has on the field and what type of coverage the defense is playing, but whatever....

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.

This is bad why?

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.

All of this^^^^^ is really a matter of preference and what kind of personnel the defense has to play with. Both models can, and have been successful.

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.

I think what you are failing to understand is that most "3-4" teams play with a 2-4-5 style nickel. Basically a 4-2-5 but brings your 3-4 OLB's into the 4-2-5 DE spot. You are over complicating the **** out of this. It is really pretty simple.

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.

Congrats?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your info is incorrect. Not sure where you got it but a 4 - 3 has an under and over tackle on every alignment. In a 4 - 3 alignement the sam almost always has strong side run support and the SS covers the TE in man. The Sam in a 4 - 3 zone is responsible for the flat. You really wouldn't want a Sam trying to cover a TE in man coverage. That would be stupid.

Yes, a 3 - 4 and 4 - 3 both have people over the 5. It just means where they line up. Not how they play. A 4 - 3 DE playing a 5 has totally different responsibilties than a 3 - 4 DT playing a 5. I could never imagine a 4 - 3 DT playing a 5 because you would have a freaking hole 10 feet wide in your Dline. You do line a DT at 5 in a 46.

The 4-3 Under has a 4-3 UT, a NT, and a 5-tech.

The Sam covers the TE and provides run support on run downs. The FS and SS can both be used to provide under help for the outside corners. The SS can also be used in the box while the FS covers the deep middle of the field on specific plays.

The Seahawks do this a lot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yep. This.

Pure 3-4 base gives us more versatility (imo) and better run D.

I do not see us running a pure 3-4. We'd be stupid to. We will have plenty of one gap concepts so that the LBs and rush DL can attack and penetrate instead of reading and reacting to the offense like in a traditional 3-4. We want to attack the offense, not the other way around.

That said we will run some esp in obvious run situations.

EDIT: Woah I did not bother to read the OP, I just assumed you knew what you were talking about. The 3-4 is not considered an attacking def. It is the opposite. The DL hold their position and are responsible for whoever comes in the gaps. Essentially however comes right at them. Since they should all ideally occupy a double team it frees up the LBs to read the play and fly to the football. That is the opposite of attacking. I'll actually go back and read it now so I can address any other misinformation.

Edited by RedTUS12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do not see us running a pure 3-4. We'd be stupid to. We will have plenty of one gap concepts so that the LBs and rush DL can attack and penetrate instead of reading and reacting to the offense like in a traditional 3-4. We want to attack the offense, not the other way around.

That said we will run some esp in obvious run situations.

I agree

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


×
×
  • Create New...