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Thread: I didn't write it but could of...

  1. #1
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    I didn't write it but could of...

    Good article on possible switch to 4-3. As I have repeated many times its all about talent replensihment. Article also make reference to us drafting players like Shazier who would do well in 4-3

    Steelers might switch away from their 3-4 defense in coming years
    About Alan Robinson Alan Robinson
    Steelers Reporter
    Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

    The Steelers and the 3-4 defense form as indelible a partnership as there is in the NFL, a marriage of scheme and structure that's lasted through three head coaches and every trend NFL offenses could throw at it for 32 years.

    The run and shoot? The read option? The spread? The wildcat? Never mattered to the Steelers — they stayed loyal to the 3-4 regardless of the NFL flavor of the day, even as offenses sped up and their own personnel slowed down.

    But as the Steelers replenish a defense that was one of the NFL's best for a decade but recently isn't generating sacks or takeaways, might they be ready for a defensive cultural change? “Mike (Tomlin), his strength is a 4-3 team,” NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes said. “They haven't been able to find the personnel that fit the style of defense that Dick (LeBeau) likes to play.”

    Some recent Steelers personnel acquisitions — mobile linebacker Ryan Shazier, 330-pounds-plus linemen Cam Thomas and Daniel McCullers, playmaking defensive end Stephon Tuitt, safety Mike Mitchell — all seem just as suited for a 4-3 as they are a 3-4. Defensive end Cam Heyward said the Steelers already incorporate some 4-3 looks.

    “I think our nickel package is more of a four-man line,” Heyward said. “If we have to beef it up, we have some different fronts where we can add another defensive lineman, take a corner or a linebacker out. It all depends on the situation.”

    Such a change likely wouldn't occur until LeBeau retires as defensive coordinator, but it would be a natural fit for Tomlin — who worked with 4-3 defenses in Minnesota and Tampa Bay — and linebackers coach Keith Butler, who also has a 4-3 background. Playing a 4-3 would allow the Steelers to drop their linebackers, including the speedy Shazier, into coverage more often to counter fast-tempo spread offenses. The primary pass-rush responsibilities would shift away from their outside linebackers, whose production has dropped off, and to their interior linemen.
    Another argument for the change: Over the past two seasons, the Steelers are only 22nd in sacks and 28th in takeaways.

    So are the Steelers silently gearing up to shift away from the 3-4 — the defense that is so intrinsically linked to them that, in 2001, they were the only NFL team playing it? “The NFL is a right-now league. I don't know that you draft today, running one system, then to draft for tomorrow and project that,” said NFL Network analyst Solomon Wilcots, who once played defensive back in LeBeau's defense. “When you're going grocery shopping in the draft, you don't look for groceries in July to cook for Thanksgiving dinner.”

    Despite Tomlin's strong background in the 4-3, Wilcots wonders if he would go back to it given how hyperactive offenses are becoming.
    “He believes the college game gives you players that are better suited for a 3-4 defense — like he said, it's hard to find a (Hall of Fame defensive lineman) Warren Sapp,” Wilcots said. “You do find a lot of outside linebackers who can put pressure on the quarterback. The way offenses play with the spread, the defensive guys come in ready to plug and play into a 3-4.”

    Statistically, there's not much difference; the NFL's 15 3-4 defenses allowed an average of 345.9 yards per game in 2013, and the 17 4-3 teams allowed 350.7. And while the top three defenses all played the 4-3, so did the bottom three.

    But here's the surprise: Analytics show that neither the 3-4 nor the 4-3 is the Steelers' base defense. And neither is the base defense for any of the other 31 NFL franchises. Welcome to the era of sub-package football, which the Steelers played more than 60 percent of the time last season — and that was lower than many teams.

    “About 70 percent of the games are played in nickel and dime defense because of the way the league is,” Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. It's also becoming the Steelers' way.

    A dominating nose tackle who can control the run and occupy interior linemen to create rush lanes for the linebackers is considered a key element of the 3-4, as five-time Pro Bowl lineman Casey Hampton was for a dozen Steelers seasons. Yet his replacement, Steve McLendon, played only one-third of the Steelers' 1,093 defensive snaps last season.

    “I think in today's NFL, it's about situational football and what offenses do, and how many receivers they have on the field,” Tomlin said. “Oftentimes we spend a lot of time in sub-package football, whether you are in a 3-4 or a 4-3.” With teams passing more than ever (the pass-run balance was 57 percent-43 percent in 2013), another defensive staple, the Tampa 2 defense that Tomlin ran as the Buccaneers' secondary coach, also is emerging on the NFL's endangered species list.

    Passing offenses are becoming so sophisticated that a relatively basic scheme that relies on two safeties playing back-end zone coverage to control the deep pass can't fully contain all that's thrown at it.

    Last season, NFL teams threw the ball 4,265 times more than they ran it. “Obviously, I am a fundamentalist,” Tomlin said. “And that's a very fundamental defense, so I would never say it has run its course. But I really think the emphasis in today's NFL is about sub-package football because of the number of multiple-receiver sets you see.” As a result, the traditional base defense is fast becoming an anomaly.

    “In today's NFL, most times you have five or six defensive backs on the field,” Tomlin said. “And I really think that is the discussion, as opposed to whether you are a 3-4 or a 4-3, to be honest with you.”
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  2. #2
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    Heyward would be a great cover 2 UT and Tuitt is a bit of a tweener, could move around inside and outside. My problem with the change is the lack of a pass rushing DE. I would imagine Jones would play SAM, Timmons at MIKE, and Shazier at WILL. I feel like we have 4 or 5 DTs and no DEs for that. Worilds sure as hell wouldnt hold up

    The seahakws are the opposite of Innovative at playing defense, its is the simpliest scheme you can play. 4 man line, press man, single high safety and they tackle the catch...its the plug and play talent that separates them (except Earl Thomas, who is brilliant)

  3. #3
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    We are drafting guys that can fit a lot of roles. They could play an odd front or an even front and can also contribute in sub packages like nickel and dime as well. As soon as Shazier and Tuitt are ready to start, think about what we can show with our front seven.

    Base 3-4:

    Tuitt-McLendon-Heyward
    Worilds-Shazier-Timmons-Jones

    If you wanted to morph it into a base 4-3, drop Worilds into a 3-point stance as a rush end, making Tuitt a 3-technique DT instead of a 5-technique DE (he has shown the ability to penetrate and disrupt in the backfield in college). Timmons could play the Will, Shazier the Mike, and Jones the Sam (or Timmons at Mike and Shazier at Will).

    Since the team has been saying that Shazier has looked like a younger version of Polamalu, you could also do a quasi-nickel with the same personnel if you use Shazier as a Troy-style roaming safety. Keep the same front four with Timmons and Jones behind them, with Troy and Mitchell the deep safeties and Shazier as the unpredictable wildcard safety who could have the freedom to roam.

  4. #4
    Lamar Woodley is the last high draft pick that even remotely looks the part of a 4/3 DE. We just let him go. We simply do not have players to run the 4/3. How the heck is our pass rush fixed by having only 320 pound slow (for rush end) guys as rush ends? Worilds? Really? His pass rush would benefit by being locked up by a tackle on EVERY play?

    And the idea that we are even remotely considering a change in our base is ludicrous. Not only are we converting guys, WE ARE DRAFTING 3/4 college players like never before IN NFL HISTORY.

    From Heyward in 2013, to Jones last year, to Shazier, Tuitt, Zumwalt AND McCullers this year.

    2013. EVERY SINGLE front 7 player, FOUR GUYS IN ONE DRAFT, all 3/4 college players.

    That must be some kinda record haul of college 3/4 players.

    Sorry to bursts your gleeful bubble but NOTHING the Steelers have done implies that there is the slightest inclination to change the base.

    In fact considering that in the THIRY plus YEARS that we have run the 3/4 we have MORE PLAYERS THAN EVER who have NEVER PLAYED a 4/3 base EVEN IN COLLEGE. It is clear we are more committed to it than ever.

    As well it should be. The article notes that in 2001 WE HAD THE ONLY 3/4 D in the league. There is a reason why fully half the teams run it now. They ENVY the success that we have had.

    Our problem is aging stars period. It happened to Noll in the 70s too, and moving from a 4/3 to a 3/4 back then did not magically make those 80s Steeler teams into the Lawrence Taylor NY Giants. This defense will not become the 2013 Seahawks either. Just ask the Cowboys.

    If we change defensive philosophies it will take us YEARS to make the transition. We don't want to miss this Window with Ben as our QB.

    Both Tomlin and the author imply that sub packages are already the norm. So that we are not always in a 3/4 is nothing new.

    Where the article is wrong is the idea that we are prepping for some kind of change. Ain't hapnin people.
    Last edited by Captain Lemming; 06-17-2014 at 12:03 PM.

  5. #5
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    I think once DL retires all bets are off.

  6. #6
    Hall of Famer Djfan's Avatar
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    What I saw is that base defensive schemes are irrelevant. They are substituted so often that every team has a sub package that is 3/4 and 4/3, plus whatever. I doubt it's much of an issue to Tomlin and company, since they can sub and adjust from either.
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by feltdizz View Post
    I think once DL retires all bets are off.
    I doubt it that would be coach suicide.
    If it does, we are in a rebuild mode that won't be done till Ben has long retired. Elite 4/3 pass rushers don't grow on trees. But on the good side we'll have several 2 and 3 win seasons which is what we will need to get a couple.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Djfan View Post
    What I saw is that base defensive schemes are irrelevant. They are substituted so often that every team has a sub package that is 3/4 and 4/3, plus whatever. I doubt it's much of an issue to Tomlin and company, since they can sub and adjust from either.
    There are two points to the article. No one argues the point you make. This is already the case.
    However, OVs point and long desire is what I contend is a flawed contention in this article. It is the very title of the article:

    "Steelers might switch away from their 3-4 defense in coming years"

    It argues that drafting Shazier is somehow proof of this, then also implies that DL is the one hinderance from it happening. My point is that our draft pattern has been just the opposite. Example: Last season we draft THE ONLY TOP PASS RUSHER who literally CANNOT play defensive end. Nothing in his college play indicates he would be a good 4/3 LBer.

    EVERY OTHER GUY was a tweener, who would project to a 4/3 end or a 3/4 LB. Now a part of the problem was that all those tweeter types were drafted earlier. But that goes back to my point with Dizz. You have to be a scrub to get an elite pass rusher talent.

    If we go with a 4/3 base, we'll get to draft those guys soon enough.

  9. #9
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    I kind of disagree that they have been adding players who might make better 4-3 personnel. They are still drafting players for the LeBoo D, and they just happen to be players who could fit the 4-3, as many players naturally could play either, especially all the DBs pretty much. The main difference are DL and OLBs. That's where the big difference is, and from everything I see, it doesn't look like signs of a move to me, at all. The Rooneys won't dare move to a 4-3 until LeBoo calls it quits. Not gonna happen.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Lemming View Post
    There are two points to the article. No one argues the point you make. This is already the case.
    However, OVs point and long desire is what I contend is a flawed contention in this article. It is the very title of the article:

    "Steelers might switch away from their 3-4 defense in coming years"

    It argues that drafting Shazier is somehow proof of this, then also implies that DL is the one hinderance from it happening. My point is that our draft pattern has been just the opposite. Example: Last season we draft THE ONLY TOP PASS RUSHER who literally CANNOT play defensive end. Nothing in his college play indicates he would be a good 4/3 LBer.

    EVERY OTHER GUY was a tweener, who would project to a 4/3 end or a 3/4 LB. Now a part of the problem was that all those tweeter types were drafted earlier. But that goes back to my point with Dizz. You have to be a scrub to get an elite pass rusher talent.

    If we go with a 4/3 base, we'll get to draft those guys soon enough.
    Its easy to want Clowney, Mario, or Peppers.....but you can shop outside of a top 2 pick for a DE lol

    Robert Quinn, Cam Jordan, Adrian Clayborn, Quinton Coples, JJ Watt, JPP, Bruce Irvin, Chandler Jones were all mid-late first rounders.

    Jared Allen, Trent Cole, Greg Hardy, Calais Campbell, Michael Bennett, Robert Mathis, Justin Tuck, Charles Johnson, Cliff Avril were all mid-late round selections (off the top of my head)

    You could play a 4 man front if you had 4 cam heywards and be fine, but ideally we would want heyward and tuitt playing inside, a sack artist on the outside, and a well rounded DE playing opposite him.

    I dont think the overall would be that dramatic if they could get one pass rusher cut out for it, but if this current group cant generate pressure and sacks in this defense no way they can on a 4 man line. Worilds is mr. straight line unblocked sack, he would never hold up

    Right now Heyward is a cog on the dline. Should be a guy that approaches 10 sacks this year (Think Mo Wilkerson, Heyward is that disruptive). Tuitt and Thomas should be able to hold up blockers (Tuitt to collapse the pocket a bit as well), jones and worilds have no excuses to not be headaches for offenses with all that beef on the dline and speed in the middle with all those tremendous blitzers in timmons/shazier/polamalu/mitchell playing on the backend

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