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Thread: What does a 3-4 or a 4-3 REALLY mean today?

  1. #1

    What does a 3-4 or a 4-3 REALLY mean today?

    I realize that the alignment of the front 7 is a hot topic, but I saw an article in Sports Illustrated which studied the number of plays that teams used their base alignment...

    GB had only 2 down linemen on 60 percent of snaps on defense...they played mostly in a 2-5 alignment (which Capers used a lot in Carolina)...

    Is 3-4 vs. 4-3 really that big of a deal these days?

    Incidentally, this year marks the 30th consecutive season of the 3-4 base in Pittsburgh...
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  2. #2
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    Re: What does a 3-4 or a 4-3 REALLY mean today?

    I think it is about where your depth is and how you want to attack the QB. If you have your best talent in defensive linemen playing more like a 4-3 makes sense. If you have depth and more talent at LB then the 3-4 makes sense. However, it becomes a self perpetuating things because once you go one way or the other you have to draft for that from then on out.

    My only issue with the 3-4 has been the "transition time" you essentially lose a player for converting DTs to DEs and DEs to OLBs. It just seems to take us longer than other teams. Dom Capers did it very quickly in Green bay and has a defense equal to any in the league. We don't seem to be able to do it in less than 2 years and by the time a player gets his first full season on the field we are closing in on the end of his initial contract. Just would like to see players get on the field sooner and get earlier contributions.
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    Hall of Famer SidSmythe's Avatar
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    Re: What does a 3-4 or a 4-3 REALLY mean today?

    I was thinking the exact same thing last night when they were introducing the Green Bay Defense. They were running a 2-4-5 Defense actually.
    Then I thought, with all the passing, pretty much everyone is now a Nickel Defense.

    The Steelers are essentially a BASE 3-4 team though. Even against 3 wide on 1st down they will be in their base defense.
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  4. #4
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    Re: What does a 3-4 or a 4-3 REALLY mean today?

    Quote Originally Posted by Slapstick
    I realize that the alignment of the front 7 is a hot topic, but I saw an article in Sports Illustrated which studied the number of plays that teams used their base alignment...

    GB had only 2 down linemen on 60 percent of snaps on defense...they played mostly in a 2-5 alignment (which Capers used a lot in Carolina)...

    Is 3-4 vs. 4-3 really that big of a deal these days?

    Incidentally, this year marks the 30th consecutive season of the 3-4 base in Pittsburgh...
    The 3-4 IMO is really a 5-2, rarely do the Steeler OLBs begin a play off the LOS. They line up outside the ends basically on the line of scrimmage. The two ILBs line up behind the front 5. The two OLBs are typically hybrid type players that could put their hand in the dirt if they had to, but usually play from a two point stance.

    Just my opinion, but the personnel necessary to play the two is definitely different.

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  5. #5

    Re: What does a 3-4 or a 4-3 REALLY mean today?

    The 3-4 was created out of the 5-2 defense, replacing the DEs with presumably more athletic OLBs. That's why the Steelers' 3-4 base defense is called "Okie"...

    There are variations of the 4-3 that use a stand-up DE on the weak side (Seifert's 49ers called it the "elephant")...those Ds usually have the strong side LB right on the LOS...it looks just like a 3-4...
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  6. #6

    Re: What does a 3-4 or a 4-3 REALLY mean today?

    Also, the 3-4 that Wade Phillips and Mike Nolan run is pretty different from the versions used by Dick LeBeau and Capers or by Belichick disciples...the Phillips 3-4 gives 1 gap responsibility to the 3 DL while the others have 2 gaps...

    1 gap responsibility is typical of most 4-3 alignments...

    3-4 and 4-3 aren't always as different as one might think...
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  7. #7
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    Re: What does a 3-4 or a 4-3 REALLY mean today?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo
    I think it is about where your depth is and how you want to attack the QB. If you have your best talent in defensive linemen playing more like a 4-3 makes sense. If you have depth and more talent at LB then the 3-4 makes sense. However, it becomes a self perpetuating things because once you go one way or the other you have to draft for that from then on out.

    My only issue with the 3-4 has been the "transition time" you essentially lose a player for converting DTs to DEs and DEs to OLBs. It just seems to take us longer than other teams. Dom Capers did it very quickly in Green bay and has a defense equal to any in the league. We don't seem to be able to do it in less than 2 years and by the time a player gets his first full season on the field we are closing in on the end of his initial contract. Just would like to see players get on the field sooner and get earlier contributions.
    GB has had the luxury of drafting higher than Pittsburgh for many years. Makes it easier to find the players you need.

  8. #8

    Re: What does a 3-4 or a 4-3 REALLY mean today?

    The Ravens run a 3-4 defense, but Terrell Suggs is pretty much a defensive end...
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  9. #9

    Re: What does a 3-4 or a 4-3 REALLY mean today?

    And this is part of the reason why we drafted two 1st round DE's who can flex to the DT positions. It used to be that you could draft a first round NT to achor, two middle round DE's to occupy blockers, and let your LB's make all the plays. That doesn't work anymore. You have to have DE's who can collapse the pocket and generate pressure inside. Smith and Keisel cannot get that done (as witnessed today).

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