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he 3-4 DEF

he 3-4 DEF

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Published by Jade Simpson

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Published by: Jade Simpson on Mar 16, 2011
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03/16/2011

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he 3-4 Defense

The Basic 3-4 Defensive Alignment

Another popular defensive alignment is the 3-4. This defense was used by Bill Parcels and his N.Y.Giants to win a couple of superbowls. From 2000 to 2004 it was also used by Bill Parcels' former defensive coordinator and now head coach of the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick, to win three more superbowls. This defense is now becoming quite popular again. The NFL is very much a copy-cat league. In the 4-3 defense, you need two very large and athletic defensive tackles and two somewhat large and very athletic defensive ends. These guys are very hard to find. It seems there's about one excellent defensive end prospect in each draft, which is not nearly enough to go around. If you can't find a couple of good defensive ends, you're in for a long season of living and dying by the blitz. One reaction to this has been to develop the 3-4 defense. In this defense, you need one really large nose tackle. This NT has to be a real monster of a guy, 350 pounds or so, because his job is to take on the center and one of the guards simultaneously on every single play. Then you get two more defensive tackles at around 300 pounds each, and play them up against the offensive tackles. All three of the defensive tackles have what is called two-gap responsibility. They are expected to hit the offensive linemen head on, and watch the play to make sure the running back doesn't come through on either side of them. Also, they're expected to hold their block so that the offensive linemen can't get out and block a linebacker.

it's relatively easy for the other three to shift around a bit and fill in the zones. Although the DTs get relatively few chances to make tackles or sack the quarterback. and are expected to weigh roughly 240 pounds and be quite athletic. The remaining linebackers and defensive backs often played man coverage. the 3-4 has a weakness. Three DTs cannot reliably collapse the five offensive lineman pocket on the quarterback. Two of these guys are inside linebackers. play after play. So the solution was to remove one of the DL from the defense and substitute a fourth linebacker. It's next to impossible to do this with a 4-3 defense. These guys are very shifty and hard to chase down. You also have two outside linebackers. there is no need to switch to a prevent defense. Sometimes the defense will rush two linebackers on the same side. In the 3-4 system. anything bad that happens is still ultimately their fault. you have four linebackers. Their presence makes it much more difficult for the quarterback to roll out. The DTs keep the offensive linemen off your linebackers.J. the quarterback cannot guess which one of the four will rush on any given play. the linebackers are expected to make most of the plays. playing eight men in zone coverage. These linebackers have the speed to chase down such running backs. they tend to be faster than the heavier defensive ends. Because these are linebackers. Since all four linebackers are skilled in coverage. . you can just drop all four of them into zones. These guys should weigh perhaps 255-265 pounds and also be quite athletic. These guys are sometimes called "tweeners.Simpson was perhaps the first of these. so it becomes much harder to pressure the quarterback. In the NFL there are many running backs who are incredibly athletic. Traditionally. In the 3-4. so there are two defensive tackles and two linebackers attacking three offensive linemen. and it's called the Zone Blitz. you have five or six guys rushing the passer. In a normal blitz package." as they are in between the normal size of defensive ends and linebackers. Whichever linebacker rushes. In the 3-4. the DTs in the 3-4 are responsible for every single gap in the offensive line.In the 3-4 system. which is relatively dangerous. Unfortunately. If the 3-4 defense finds itself late in a game protecting a lead. This is the strength of the 3-4. the DTs play a more physical game as they are taking on one or two offensive linemen directly. The modern solution to this problem was worked out by Dick LeBeau. O. The 3-4 defense was motivated by two factors: the difficulty in getting good defensive ends. Defensive linemen simply can't do it. as he will be rolling out directly into the path of one of these linebackers. but today there are perhaps a dozen of them. leaving them free to roam the field and bring down runners. The remaining two linebackers again can quickly shift over to fill in the gaps left by the two who are blitzing. and the need to stop very fast running backs. the 3-4 has struggled against the pass. Wide receivers in the NFL tend to be taller than defensive backs. you select your four linebackers for the speed to drop back and cover a zone. Since there are four linebackers. Unlike the DTs in the 4-3. so they often win the one-onone battles.

the more traditional 4-3 offense seems better suited to the modern passfriendly NFL rules. It's important for the success of the 3-4 in these cases for the defense to play an extremely physical game. In the 2002 superbowl. the 3-4 has been successful at the highest levels. However. it's quite plausible the Colts would have found a way to exploit the lack of speed in the Patriots secondary. in the 2004 playoffs the Patriots hosted the Colts. the Patriots managed to almost completely shut down the Colts offense. but by playing an intensely physical game the Patriots managed to slow the Rams enough to eke out a win. Similarly. So in summary. while the 3-4 offense seems more geared to stop the run based offenses of the 70s and 80s. by mixing up the rushers and zone coverages to confuse the quarterback and by forcing the receivers to play a far more physical game than they would wish.The 3-4 defense can have trouble matching up against a very fast offense. . jamming the receivers hard at the line of scrimmage. the Patriots looked like their defense matched up poorly with the numerous fast receivers of the Rams. in spite of it's apparent drawbacks. Had this game been played indoors in Indianapolis on carpet instead of outdoors on grass in cold weather. But by making the Colts play a more physical game than they were used to. and again it looked like a bad match up for the Patriots.

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