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Thread: Louis Nix III

  1. #211
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    SOmeone was touting Ryan Carrethers, NT from Arkansas State, 6'1" - 330 pounds. They said we could easily get him in the 4th. This guy would certainly have the size to play the Pittsburgh Steeler Nose Tackle
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  2. #212

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    Part 4: The 3-4 Front

    In this installment, we leave the 4-3 front behind and move on to the 3-4 front, which has quickly become the league's favored defensive front again after falling out of favor almost entirely during the 1990s. Just as there are multiple flavors of the 4-3 front, there are different philosophies of how to play a 3-4 front.
    It's not a stretch to suggest that most think first of Lawrence Taylor or the Pittsburgh Steelers' zone blitz concept when someone mentions the 3-4 front. In truth, the 3-4 in the NFL has a much richer history than that.
    Unlike the 4-3, which was first designed and successful in professional football, the 3-4 got its start at the University of Oklahoma in the 1940s (and probably sooner). It wasn't until the mid-1970s, when teams were looking for ways to contain big speedy running backs and combat the downfield passing schemes that were gaining favor, that the 3-4 took hold in the NFL as an every-down defense. A number of teams were at the forefront of the 3-4 revolution, but each made the transition in very different ways.
    Don Shula and Bill Arnsparger used a three man line after an injury-filled exhibition season depleted their depth at defensive end and kept it primarily to disguise their coverage looks. The Dolphins called it a "53" after the jersey number of their fourth linebacker, Bob Matheson. The Patriots, under former Oklahoma coaches Chuck Fairbanks and Hank Bullough, used a two-gap concept on the line, preferring to contain offenses rather than risk an overly aggressive approach. Meanwhile, the Oilers were running a much more aggressive, one-gap 3-4 under head coach Bum Phillips. All had success.
    By 1980, almost three quarters of the defensive schemes in the NFL had three down linemen. Like today, there were plenty of variations on the 3-4 theme. There were the aggressive Oilers and Saints under Bum Phillips, the Dome Patrol under Jim Mora in New Orleans, the opportunistic, swarming 3-4 schemes of the Dolphins' No Name and later Killer "Bs", the not-as-aggressive-as-you'd-think New York Giants of Bill Parcells and Lawrence Taylor, the (original) multiple front schemes of the Orange Crush in Denver and others. Though the philosophies and tendencies varied, the underlying concepts that made the 3-4 popular were the same.
    The 3-4 gave coordinators the flexibility to blitz or drop into coverage without changing personnel. Versatile linebackers like Lawrence Taylor or Robert Brazile or Rickey Jackson or Ted Hendricks could rush the passer or drop into coverage effectively. Teams could disguise their blitzes and coverage easily and disrupt the timing and rhythm of the passing attacks that were gaining favor in the league. The outside linebackers could walk up to the line of scrimmage and create a five man front of sorts to help contain the big, quick running backs of the day. Stud running backs like OJ Simpson or Franco Harris found it a little more difficult to get outside against the 3-4.
    Not surprisingly, the flexibility of the 3-4 front is driving its resurgence today. The versatility of the 3-4 makes it attractive when defending the pass-heavy attacks of today's offenses, both in the number of coverage and blitz combinations it supports, as coordinators don't have to rely on the success or failure of the four man rush. All 3-4 fronts are not the same, however. While the 3-4 front is traditionally thought of as a 2-gap front, there are two major families of 3-4 in use across the league today.

    The zone blitz had its moments in Cincinnati (helping lead the Bengals to SB XXIII) and New Orleans (the Dome Patrol studs), but wasn't widely hyped as a defensive strategy until LeBeau and Capers ended up as assistant coaches in Pittsburgh and refined it further in the early and mid-1990s.
    The basic concept - an exchange of an expected pass rusher for an unexpected one - is relatively simple. The type of exchange and number of players involved in the rotation can become very complex.
    The above diagram shows a single player exchange, defensive end for linebacker. You can see how bringing both outside linebackers at the snap looks like a five man pass rush - but it's not. The DE-OLB exchange asks the end to threaten the offensive tackle with a quick step toward the pocket, then quickly drop into coverage. If executed properly, the OLB should be able to pressure the pocket quickly off the edge, while the end drops into the zone that the quarterback would rightly read as open by sight adjustment for his hot route. The simple exchange looks like a five man "blitz", but allows the defense to generate blitz-like pressure with full zone coverage behind.
    Here's a more complicated example with two exchanges and rotating underneath coverage. Eight men threaten the line at the snap, but only five players rush the passer leaving a three under, three deep zone coverage look. The Steelers will sometimes run similar looks with only two linemen in a two-point stance in their nickel package, where the OLB becomes a standup DE at the line of scrimmage and a slot corner takes the place of a blitzing OLB.
    Zone blitz concepts can be run from a 4-3 front as well, if you've got the athletes to do it. Capers used the zone blitz in a 4-3 in Jacksonville, but had the luxury of studs like Tony Brackens and Bryce Paup off the edge. Both Capers and LeBeau prefer the 3-4 as a base for their fire zone schemes, as the extra linebacker adds a better athlete and a wider spectrum of potential blitzes.
    Like any other defensive scheme, even with stud personnel, the zone blitz is beatable.

    1. Run the ball.
      Backs with good vision that can see the seams on a play when a blitz has been called can be successful against the exchanges. Draw plays can be particularly effective (as can screens) if the right seam is open.
    2. Plenty of play action.
      The linemen still must play the run. The extra half step gained by holding the exchange lineman from dropping into coverage can prevent the lineman from beating the receiver to the fire zone.
    3. Move the pocket.
      Mobile quarterbacks that read well have a better shot at avoiding the pass rush.
    4. Max protect on the line.
      If enough players are asked to protect the pocket, it's difficult to defeat the blocking scheme with exchanges and overload blitzes.

    Though some of the copycat defenses weren't as successful as the Capers and LeBeau original, the fire zone scheme has stood the test of time. Unlike the 46, which has gone the way of the dodo as a base scheme, the zone blitz remains sound enough to use as a large part of an every-down defense. It becomes a chess game. Max protect, and LeBeau will feign the zone blitz and drop eight into coverage. Roll your quarterback out and LeBeau will bring corner blitzes from a two deep shell. All teams have some 46 and zone blitz in their playbook as an aggressive change-up call, but most offensive coordinators would choose to face the 46 rather than the zone blitz.
    It seems counter-intuitive that a scheme praised for its aggressive nature was born out of a desire to be safe and protect against the big play. But it's well-planned and calculated aggression that consistently wins the day. When compared to the 46, which was meant to wreak havoc all over the field, the fire zone defense starts to look vanilla in comparison.


  3. #213

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    Quote Originally Posted by feltdizz View Post
    yeah.. that hasn't worked out so well.

    I find it odd that so many people scream about how the DL 3-4 scheme works if you have talent and then people turn around and say they can find a player in later rounds and teach him how to play the most important position in a 3-4.

    It all starts with the NT in a 3-4. It's like going out and signing a Mahan to play Center.... no, if you have a chance to get a C in the first who can be your starter for the next 10 years (unless his own G jumps on his leg) you have to take him.

    I'm not saying Nix is THAT guy but if we think he is we need to take him.
    If the NT in our D only needs to occupy a couple of blockers and take up space, then why do you have to spend a first-round pick on him?

    You say it hasn't worked out so well to spend a lower round pick on the NT. I happen to think Chris Hoke did pretty well. Ta'Amu is playing's just for another team! If he hadn't decided to go run down some of the citizenry, he'd likely still be in the 'Burgh, and we might think we'd found the answer.

    BTW, I don't happen to think McLendon is the biggest problem on our D. But if you want a real 2-gap NT, he's probably not your guy. But why not someone like Carrethers? Why not get him with a lower-round pick, and then use your first-rounder on a position where you can get a real game-changer?

    I mean, if there was another Ngata coming up, then I might feel differently, but I don't see any NTs of that caliber in this draft.

  4. #214
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    Quote Originally Posted by phillyesq View Post
    They lost to a 3-4 team.
    does aldon smith drop into coverage??

    its more a 4-3 then anything.

    and they have lots of top picks on that defense. more then us even to make it successful (J smith a top FA signing too)

    look at some of the top 4-3 defenses this year. carolina, seattle, arizona, cincy

    cincy's d-line.... all mid round picks. carolina with only star and kuchley as high picks. seattle is another defense with just a coupkle of high #1s (irvin isnt even a full time player)

    these teams are finding 4-3 type players and plugging them right in and they're succeeding. they're not sitting on the bench for 2 years as our coaches tell them to not do what they did instinctively in college

  5. #215

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    As I read JPN's post a few posts back about NT fixing a problem, but not the main problem it got me thinking about what I've heard so many times from Steeler defenders that Dick Lebeau wants to stop the run first and foremost and make an offense one dimensional. I was going to give JPN a hypothetical that drafting Nix and (hopefully) making the run defense #1 again would actually help fix the secondary which seems to be the biggest problem right now.

    Then I read the above description of the 34 and the 4 ways to beat it, the first two involve running the ball (which is probably why DL wants to stop the run at all costs). If the defense can completely dominate the running game as in the past then as an offense tries options 3 and 4 to move the ball the defense has the upper hand by being able to blitz from many different looks including corner blitzes on designed roll-outs and plays that slide the pocket.

    If a team is going max protect against a defense I feel like you're winning the battle for sure because you'll be able to double their two biggest threats, because they're keeping people in to block and not sending them into routes.

    It seems that in Dick Lebeau's 34 and his philosophy of stopping the run, that the NT plays a key role regardless of the number of snaps that he is on the filed. If he plays 2 downs and puts the defense in 3rd and 6 or more, then, the NT while only playing 2 snaps has provided great benefit to the defense.

    Personally, I'd like to see Barr or Mack fall to us at 15, I think the Steelers have a real problem at OLB, because they have two good players and potential, but one has a big contract and hasn't performed up to par since signing it and the second is going to want a big contract, but has been injured and played well in only half a season and the potential, well, is exactly that, potential.

    The defense needs help at all three levels IMO, they can't go wrong attempting to fix any of them.


    1.30) TJ Watt, OLB, Wis
    2.62) JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
    3.94) Cameron Sutton, CB, Tenn
    3.105) James Conner, RB, Pitt
    4.135) James Conner, RB, Pitt - Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tenn
    5.156) Brian Allen, CB, Utah
    6.213) Colin Holba, LS, Louiseville
    7.24 Keion Adams, LB, W. Michigan

    The referee said that you hit Brian Sipe too hard. Did you hit him too hard?
    I hit him as hard as I could - Jack Lambert

  6. #216
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    Quote Originally Posted by ramblinjim View Post
    SOmeone was touting Ryan Carrethers, NT from Arkansas State, 6'1" - 330 pounds. They said we could easily get him in the 4th. This guy would certainly have the size to play the Pittsburgh Steeler Nose Tackle
    I had Carrethers in my mock early. There are 3 NTs I have my eye on in the 4th-5th range. Ryan Carrethers, Justin Ellis, & Beau Allen. When it is all said & done..Carrethers & Ellis may end up 3rd rounders & Allen in the 4th. Carrethers shows allot of 1 gap skills & he may be rated higher on some 4-3 teams boards. He looks to have that ability. If you guys get time...Watch some tape on Justin Ellis. Its hard to find some on Allen...You will have to watch Wisconsin defensive tape. As I get time...I will post some links. Ellis & Allen...To me...Appear to be Steeler type of NTs. I would take Carrethers too in a heratbeat...I just think he may jump up the board through this process.

  7. #217
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    I don't see NT as a secondary impact. "Pass Rush" is related but with teams going more 3 step....You have to cover first anymore. The theory of a 2 down player is great. If you know you would get Nix on the field on 1st & 2nd...I would actually have no problem drafting him...But I still don't see him as a Top 20 player. The problem with that theory of a 2 down player is if the Steelers don't fix their secondary first...They can't even peg a player a 2 down player. He would be a situational player "when" they could stay in base.

    Offensive personnel packages dictate the Steelers sub packages. I keep saying that but maybe I need to say it in generic words. In other words...Because of the Steelers weakness in the base secondary (Ike, Cortez, Ryan, Troy)...The Steelers are forced into a sub package when they SHOULD be able to stay in base to defend the run first. That causes the NT to come off the field & makes the team vulnerable against the run. When the offense gives the Steelers 12 personnel-21 personnel & the "2" has a receiving skill set...the Steelers go nickel because they don't have the ability to go Cover 0 or 1 in the backend & their ILB opposite Timmons doesn't have very good coverage ability. By going nickel...They Steelers have 6 in the box against their 8+1(QB). That's why running QBs that can pass kill the Steelers because that makes it 9 in the box against the Steelers 6. This didn't happen this year...This was exposed Tebow time & spiraled down hill since.

    Will a True 3-4 NT help the Steelers? Absolutely! IMO...It isn't step 1. It all can't be fixed in the draft either...I expect them to look really hard & possibly sign a FA or two. If I'm Colbert...I'm seeing what it would cost to bring in Antoine Cason CB & Cam Thomas NT. Steeler type of FA signings & you would expect them to challenge to be starters. If Ike does take a pay cut...I still see Cason & Allen end up being the Starters by the end of camp. Having Taylor & Gay as #3 & #4 really matches up well against the Broncos, Pats, etc. Still draft a CB in the 1st 4 rounds. But by doing that...It gives the Steelers the ability to draft for talent & not need deep into the draft. The have the answers to Shark & Spence. Is Shark ready & will Spence recover 100% to be a long term starter? IF any of those answers aren't a definitive "YES"...They have the ability to draft ILB & Safety talent. If those answers are "YES" the could draft WR & TE talent on their board. I think the Steelers activity of signing their own & in FA will shows us their hands. Really hard to predict right now but I would think if there is any FA focus...They will be looking on the defensive side.

  8. #218

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    Quote Originally Posted by BradshawsHairdresser View Post
    If you're just looking for a 2-gap tackle who will take up space, I don't know that you need to spend a first-round pick on him. You should be able to find that player in later rounds (put him on the "see food" diet and teach him the position).
    If you could find a young Casey Hampton, would you take him in the first at 15? I'd do it in a heartbeat. I'm not sure that Nix is the guy, or that he isn't.

    When Casey was young, he did more than occupy blockers. He commanded a double team and made teams pay when he they tried to block him individually. As he got older, he lost some of the agility and quickness that he had.

  9. #219

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    Quote Originally Posted by phillyesq View Post
    If you could find a young Casey Hampton, would you take him in the first at 15? I'd do it in a heartbeat. I'm not sure that Nix is the guy, or that he isn't.

    When Casey was young, he did more than occupy blockers. He commanded a double team and made teams pay when he they tried to block him individually. As he got older, he lost some of the agility and quickness that he had.
    The thing Casey did that we miss is move the center guards backward a yard or 2 into the pocket giving the OLBs an angle to get to the QB. McClendon just doesn't do that giving the opposing QB the ability to step up into a clean pocket and make plays. So many times this year, we watched Woodley beat his man off the edge but often unable to get to the QB when he stepped up.

  10. #220

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    Quote Originally Posted by phillyesq View Post
    If you could find a young Casey Hampton, would you take him in the first at 15? I'd do it in a heartbeat. I'm not sure that Nix is the guy, or that he isn't.

    When Casey was young, he did more than occupy blockers. He commanded a double team and made teams pay when he they tried to block him individually. As he got older, he lost some of the agility and quickness that he had.
    It's been a lot of years since Casey was "that" player. And I really don't see Nix as being "that" guy, either.

    Use your first-rounder on a difference maker. Otherwise, you will get a Troy Edwards or Ziggy Hood type of return.

    We can find a player in later rounds who does what Casey did in his last 3-4 years.


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