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View Full Version : Time for the 4-3 defense?



Oviedo
10-28-2008, 10:15 AM
As you know I have advocated going to the 4-3. After this weekend we see for the second time this season what a strong pass rushing, not hold in place, DL can do. Both our losses are to teams that play the 4-3.

I think we have the personnel to play the 4-3 without missing a beat pass rush wise. Kiesel and Woodley could step right into the 4-3 and play excellent DE. Woodley might become a true superstar if you took away pass coverage responsibilities and just let him go after the QB.

Timmons is the perfect fit for the 4-3 and I think it gets him on the field even more. Harrsion can play either MLB or strongside LB and Farrior takes the other position.

I know I'll get the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" argument, but why wait until its broke. We need to go all out to get DL real soon so this decision needs to be made to get the right ones. The 3-4 requires a dominant Nose Tackle. Do we think we can count on Casey? How many dominant NTs are there out there to replace him? it is much easier to fill the roster with 4-3 DL than 3-4.

RussBII
10-28-2008, 10:29 AM
As you know I have advocated going to the 4-3. After this weekend we see for the second time this season what a strong pass rushing, not hold in place, DL can do. Both our losses are to teams that play the 4-3.

I think we have the personnel to play the 4-3 without missing a beat pass rush wise. Kiesel and Woodley could step right into the 4-3 and play excellent DE. Woodley might become a true superstar if you took away pass coverage responsibilities and just let him go after the QB.

Timmons is the perfect fit for the 4-3 and I think it gets him on the field even more. Harrsion can play either MLB or strongside LB and Farrior takes the other position.

I know I'll get the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" argument, but why wait until its broke. We need to go all out to get DL real soon so this decision needs to be made to get the right ones. The 3-4 requires a dominant Nose Tackle. Do we think we can count on Casey? How many dominant NTs are there out there to replace him? it is much easier to fill the roster with 4-3 DL than 3-4.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it...

The defense is pretty freaking far from broken. Ranked #1 against the pass, #3 against the run, and #2 in scoring and #1 overall. Making a change to the most solid aspect of the team is a coach killing type of decision...

Maybe after the season if the personnel dictates it, but certainly not halfway through the season.

Oviedo
10-28-2008, 10:31 AM
As you know I have advocated going to the 4-3. After this weekend we see for the second time this season what a strong pass rushing, not hold in place, DL can do. Both our losses are to teams that play the 4-3.

I think we have the personnel to play the 4-3 without missing a beat pass rush wise. Kiesel and Woodley could step right into the 4-3 and play excellent DE. Woodley might become a true superstar if you took away pass coverage responsibilities and just let him go after the QB.

Timmons is the perfect fit for the 4-3 and I think it gets him on the field even more. Harrsion can play either MLB or strongside LB and Farrior takes the other position.

I know I'll get the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" argument, but why wait until its broke. We need to go all out to get DL real soon so this decision needs to be made to get the right ones. The 3-4 requires a dominant Nose Tackle. Do we think we can count on Casey? How many dominant NTs are there out there to replace him? it is much easier to fill the roster with 4-3 DL than 3-4.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it...

The defense is pretty freaking far from broken. Ranked #1 against the pass, #3 against the run, and #2 in scoring and #1 overall. Making a change to the most solid aspect of the team is a coach killing type of decision...

Maybe after the season if the personnel dictates it, but certainly not halfway through the season.

I was not advocating mid season. Definitely in the future no now. But IMO the right decision to stay #1 long term. When Aaron Smith and Casey are gone it will be difficult to replace them with comparable talent. The clock is ticking.

RussBII
10-28-2008, 10:38 AM
I was not advocating mid season. Definitely in the future no now. But IMO the right decision to stay #1 long term. When Aaron Smith and Casey are gone it will be difficult to replace them with comparable talent. The clock is ticking.

Sorry for the misunderstanding. It's a slow day today at work so I'm putting some thought into this. There are plenty of teams in the league that play the 4-3 and don't have a good pass rush. I think finding a pair of good, disruptive tackles, who aren't injury prone is even tougher than finding 3-4 DEs. At least w/ the 3-4 you only need one interior guy, and Chris Hoke has been doing pretty well with it. We don't need him to get sacks or tackles, just keep two guys busy so Potsie and company can mop up the rest.

The 3-4 also gives you the ability to disguise blitzes a little more and do some creative overloads w/ your LBs and such. I'm not sold on the 4-3 at all because I think it pretty much announces where 80% of the rush is going to come from. That's fine if you have unstoppable DLs, but we don't.

I will say that they need to run whatever defense the personnel dictates though. If you've got a glut of linebackers (which we do) you run the 3-4. If you've got a lot of good solid DLs (like the Giants) then you run the 4-3. We'll just have to wait and see how the offseason shakes out.

steelblood
10-28-2008, 10:52 AM
I agree that eventually this will be the way to go, but Keisel will not be a good pass rushing DE. We tried everything we could do to free him up last year by moving him around and stunting to give him favorable matchup and he failed miserably in pass rushing situations. Further, taking our best pass rusher (Harrison) out of the mix will hurt as well. We'd need another pass rushing DE and two pass rushing DTs to make the move.

Oviedo
10-28-2008, 11:01 AM
I agree that eventually this will be the way to go, but Keisel will not be a good pass rushing DE. We tried everything we could do to free him up last year by moving him around and stunting to give him favorable matchup and he failed miserably in pass rushing situations. Further, taking our best pass rusher (Harrison) out of the mix will hurt as well. We'd need another pass rushing DE and two pass rushing DTs to make the move.

A. Smith would be a great pass rush DT. Remember he had 8 sacks twice in his career. The current scheme is the problem. Hoke is a great penetrator, better than Casey, and while not a long term solution he would remain viable in a rotation. Disagree about Kiesel. he consistently leads the teams in QB pressure in a scheme that is not conducive to a DL doing that. Don't forget about Bruce Davis. He was a great pass rusher in college and DE is his more natural position so we already have another part of the rotation.

I don't think you take anything away from Harrison. Look at how the Eagles use their LBs. They are very effective blitzing and Timmons would be awesome both blitzing and in coverage.

I think you could easily convert over this next off season and get the DL you need through FA and the draft. Hampton is not a long term solution and replacing him will be very difficult.

stlrz d
10-28-2008, 02:11 PM
I like the 3-4 and now that teams are starting to go away from it again it makes it easier for us to find the right personnel to make it work.

The only change I'd like to see is the corners actually in the frame of the TV screen at the snap of the ball.

proudpittsburgher
10-28-2008, 02:29 PM
The only change I'd like to see is the corners actually in the frame of the TV screen at the snap of the ball.

:lol: :lol: Hey, if it means taking away the big play, I'm all for it. That being said, if they play that way against the Colts, and do not bump those receivers at the LOS, we may be in for a long day.

papillon
10-28-2008, 10:39 PM
More teams are going back to the 43 and that will make the 34 a novelty again. This will cause teams to have to game plan specifically for the 34, whereas if you're always playing a team that runs 43 then there are at least some generic things that you can count on.

Two, there won't be much competition for college linemen that fit the 34.

Three, the Steelers are currently in the top 3 in all categories; I'm not sure that I would mess with that even after the season ends.

Pappy

Flasteel
10-28-2008, 11:23 PM
This is crazy talk. Why would you even bring this up? Until this past weekend we were the best in the league at pressuring the quarterback, not NY, not Philly (okay they were 2nd & 3rd...but still). Crazy talk big O.

sd steel
10-28-2008, 11:57 PM
How many times a game are we even in the 3-4 base defense? We are running every scheme you could think of. and the 4-3 is one of them. Lebeau calls it a 3-4, but we are running a total hybrid most of the time especially on passing situations, then we go to a 4-3 on goal line. I think I saw a 1-6 and a 2-5 and a 5-2.

If we were running the straight 3-4 90% of the time I might agree, especially if we are getting whipped, but the reality is you can't really call this D a 3-4. We are running something very different and it's working.

Oviedo
10-29-2008, 07:58 AM
This is crazy talk. Why would you even bring this up? Until this past weekend we were the best in the league at pressuring the quarterback, not NY, not Philly (okay they were 2nd & 3rd...but still). Crazy talk big O.

May not be crazy talk over the next few years when you are trying to replace Aaron Smith, Kiesel and Hampton. They are both unique. How have we done finding comparable DL in the last several years?

stlrz d
10-29-2008, 02:07 PM
This is crazy talk. Why would you even bring this up? Until this past weekend we were the best in the league at pressuring the quarterback, not NY, not Philly (okay they were 2nd & 3rd...but still). Crazy talk big O.

May not be crazy talk over the next few years when you are trying to replace Aaron Smith, Kiesel and Hampton. They are both unique. How have we done finding comparable DL in the last several years?

Special players aren't easy to replace...but it does happen.

steelblood
10-29-2008, 02:40 PM
I agree that eventually this will be the way to go, but Keisel will not be a good pass rushing DE. We tried everything we could do to free him up last year by moving him around and stunting to give him favorable matchup and he failed miserably in pass rushing situations. Further, taking our best pass rusher (Harrison) out of the mix will hurt as well. We'd need another pass rushing DE and two pass rushing DTs to make the move.

A. Smith would be a great pass rush DT. Remember he had 8 sacks twice in his career. The current scheme is the problem. Hoke is a great penetrator, better than Casey, and while not a long term solution he would remain viable in a rotation. Disagree about Kiesel. he consistently leads the teams in QB pressure in a scheme that is not conducive to a DL doing that. Don't forget about Bruce Davis. He was a great pass rusher in college and DE is his more natural position so we already have another part of the rotation.

I don't think you take anything away from Harrison. Look at how the Eagles use their LBs. They are very effective blitzing and Timmons would be awesome both blitzing and in coverage.

I think you could easily convert over this next off season and get the DL you need through FA and the draft. Hampton is not a long term solution and replacing him will be very difficult.

I totally disagree about Harrison. Harrison's leverage and strength are perfect for an edge rusher in the 3-4. His value is his one-on-one blitzing skill. He is so good that he demands a double team. That creates an advantage for us that can't be replicated in a 4-3.

I do agree that Smith could be good as a DT in a 4-3. But pass rushing won't be his strength. He currently plays a 4-3 DT in our nickel package. Outside of one game, he has not pressured the QB much.

We'd still need to add at least 3 solid pass rushing lineman to move to an 8 man rotation 4-3 front that can get pressure without the aid of a blitz. I'm not opposed to it at all, but with our problems at o-line and the success of our d-line this year, I doubt the STeelers even consider it.

Oviedo
10-29-2008, 02:55 PM
My concern is we delude ourselves and fall into a false sense of security about the DL. We are one Aaron Smith injury away from it unravelling.

DL needs to be an equal if not higher priority in the off season to OL.

AngryAsian
10-29-2008, 04:01 PM
Both trenches need immediate addressing in the offseason. The schemes we throw at people are mostly hybrid and I like the diversity we are able to employ with our current system. I see your reasoning about our special player in Aaron Smith, but he's not irreplaceable, ever... and certainly not reason to change the entire scheme of a defense that was built to play this particular alignment. Aaron had a humongous tackle out in the flat (while in pursuit mind you) on the Giants RB Ward. So his responsibilities aren't only to stuff the gap. On that particular play he was a 4-3 DE. I'm not saying you don't have validity to your contention. But to say that our entire defense will unravel if he were to go out... I just don't agree with.

Chadman
10-30-2008, 02:41 AM
Chadman has found himself agreeing with The Big O very often, and this is another occasion.

Ok- right now, the Steelers 3-4 is going great. So yeah, while it's working, why change anything?

BUT- Hampton, Smith, Kirschke, Roye & Hoke are all over 30 years old, and Keisel is right on the border.

That leaves Nick Eason as 'the future' on the DL!!

Chadman has taken a precursory look at the upcoming draft class & has noted that there is a distinct lack of quality NT's in this draft class. Perhaps the guy from Boston College is an option, but other than that, most DT's are of the 4-3 variety. While Casey will give the Steelers another couple of years service, all things going well, he's only a knee injury away from being done. And Hoke is older than Casey! So future NT's are required for the Steelers 3-4 to remain elite. Do we all remember the year Steed retired? How the Steelers did with Kimo at NT? QUALITY 3-4 NT's are not easy to come by.

Also- at DE, we have a problem creeping up on us. Aaron Smith can't go on forever, and Keisel, as has been pointed out often, is not an 'ideal' 3-4 DE. Realistically, 3-4 DE's are 4-3 DT's...so the Steelers will likely look at DT's to fill those spots for the future. Of course, it's not very often that a rookie DT that played 4-3 in college can switch to 3-4 DE in the NFL without teething problems.

So here's the DL problem- while they are good now, they won't be good for long. And 3-4 DL depth in this year's draft looks.....uninspiring.

The 4-3 DL depth in this draft looks better.

But it's not simply an issue of 3-4 vs 4-3 DL is it?

You must factor in the LB's.

Woodley would look good (you'd think) as a 4-3 DE- hey, he did in college. There's no doubt Woodley is a good pass rushing LB in the 3-4, but his pass COVERAGE is not so strong. As a DE, that area of his game is no longer an issue. Bruce Davis could also be a factor as a pass rushing specialist- he did alright at college doing that!

So that's 2 LB's that can convert to a 4-3.

Farrior will fit as a 4-3 LB, but he's aging. Foote could fit as well- in fact, it's possible that 4-3 would suit Foote better as he won't be asked to take on OL as much as he is as a 3-4 ILB. Timmons would no doubt benefit- he's Derrick Brooks in a younger body. He's a perfect fit as your coverage OLB in a 4-3. Harrison could be best suited to ILB in a 4-3.

Ok- so there's no RUSH to switch to a 4-3...BUT....the Steelers need to look at the future. If there isn't enough talent on the DL in this years draft- it might be worth at least entertaining the idea of switching to a 4-3.

One last thing- the Steelers defence is aging in a few positions, and with these players being around the same age, it's possible that the Steelers will need to look at replacing Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton, Chris Hoke, James Farrior, James Harrison, Travis Kirshcke & even Brett Keisel all within a year or two of eachother. That's a lot of personel to lose in quick time. So rookies will need to contribute early. It could be argued that if they are not asked to learn a new role (3-4 defence), they could be fast tracked into the starting line-up easier than if they had to relearn how to play defence....

Oviedo
10-30-2008, 10:26 AM
Chadman--you broke the code. The concern is not how the 3-4 is doing now it is restocking the DL. The 3-4 DL is harder to rebuild because you are looking for unique skill sets. As I havementioned in the past you have to essentailly ignore most of the college DEs because they are too small to plat a 3-4 DE. Not sure it is wise to reduce you potential resource pool that far.

The reason we have so many over 30 DL is because it is so hard to find someone to fit the LeBeau 3-4. Obviously we haven't hit on anyone in the last three years. Can we really afford to keep missing while our DL ages.

My point has always been we can restock and reload faster in the 4-3 as opposed to the 3-4. The talent pool is bigger.

sd steel
10-31-2008, 12:04 AM
Chadman--you broke the code. The concern is not how the 3-4 is doing now it is restocking the DL. The 3-4 DL is harder to rebuild because you are looking for unique skill sets. As I havementioned in the past you have to essentailly ignore most of the college DEs because they are too small to plat a 3-4 DE. Not sure it is wise to reduce you potential resource pool that far.

The reason we have so many over 30 DL is because it is so hard to find someone to fit the LeBeau 3-4. Obviously we haven't hit on anyone in the last three years. Can we really afford to keep missing while our DL ages.

My point has always been we can restock and reload faster in the 4-3 as opposed to the 3-4. The talent pool is bigger.

I think your post is well thought out, but the talent pool isn't that different. Yes LeBeau is looking for athletes like Keisel and Aaron, but truth be told, are 2 tackles are not that similar to one another. Smith fills gaps and helps Casey or Hoke shut down the run, and Keisel has become a hybrid, where he can roam and cover yet can be stout against the run because of his athleticism. Right now they need to find a young backup for Aaron, and another 350 lb bowling ball who has leverage to play nose. To find a player to backup Aaron will be a feat, because he is a guy who for his size is an overacheiver, and he has the biggest heart and the best technique on the team. Technique can be taught, but its hard to find guys with that heart. Really it should be easier than revamping to a 4-3 because week really only need 2 guys, because we already have youth in the LB corp.

It is hard to expect a rookie draft choice to come in and not have a drop off behind Smith, but how long did it take Smith to become the player he has? Look for the Steelers to draft what they think will be a Smith clone in the first or second round of this draft, and to find a big boy to backup the nose. If the scouting is good, and I bet they already know who they are taking, we will be fine.