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Old 10-28-2005   #1
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Default Sack the 3-4

Pat Kirwan NFL.com

Heading into 2005, all we heard was that many teams were experimenting with the 3-4 defense. Bill Belichick and his Patriots team had won three of the past four Super Bowls using the 3-4, so the rest of the league was supposed to follow their lead.

Not so fast! The top four teams in the NFL in sacks play the 4-3 defense and have no intention of jumping ship with the results they're getting.

Indianapolis, Atlanta, Seattle and Tennessee get to the QB better than anyone. It's only Week 8 and these four teams already have 95 sacks combined. The most impressive stat is that 79 of the 95 sacks belong to guys who start out with their hand on the ground. Indianapolis leads the NFL in sacks with 26, and 24 of them are by the front four.

A few years ago, Charlie Weis and his Patriots offense, with a complete understanding of the 3-4 defense from Bill Belichick, spread out the Steelers' 3-4 defense with "spread sets" and empty formations. The result was outside linebackers could not get to the QB. In the 4-3 package, the front four stayed intact.

As one Patriots coach said, "You will never see (Colts defensive end) Robert Mathis leave the rush box because of offensive alignments."

Another 4-3 coach said, "With the proper stunting up front -- which the 3-4 can't do, but the 4-3 can -- it's not hard to get your best pass rusher on the right offensive lineman."
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Thought since we tend to discuss the 3-4 and if it should be turned into a 4-3 if a new coach takes over that this article may draw some interest.

Sorry if this has been posted somewhere else.
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Old 10-28-2005   #2
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If we get a new coach there is not doubt we run will run a 4-3 since there are more 4-3 coaches out there. I guess SD, Patriots and Pittsburgh will be scrapping this 3-4 this year based on this article that is 7 games deep into the season. How many 3-4 teams made the playoffs last year? What percentage is that?
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Old 10-28-2005   #3
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It has been discussed, but not from this angle. One thing to note is that three of those teams have played the Texans.

Honestly, both defense have their weakness and strengths. IMO, it matters more that you have really good pass rushers and put in a position to succeed than the name of the scheme.
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Old 10-28-2005   #4
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Finding solid D-linemen is the tough part about running a consistent 4-3. Obviously, getting LBs is supposed to be easier, but to have a dominant 3-4 (ie. like the Patriots), those LBs have to be fast, aggressive, and most important, GOOD.

I'd love to see the 4-3 here, but again, it depends on obtaining decent D-linemen.
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Old 10-28-2005   #5
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I'd like to add that the best pass rushing front of the Indianapolis Colts has Robert Mathis @ 6'2" 235 lbs as one end and Dwight Freeney @ 6'1" 268 lbs. Those two would be outside linebackers in our 3-4 system and would have to worry about coverage schemes rather than just getting after the QB. How limiting would our scheme be on them? Heck, they'd probably be benched because they couldn't cover.

Simeon Rice, another of the most feared pass rushers in the league is 6'5" 268 lbs. He too likely couldn't cover so would be a bench riding OLB with our team. Does anyone see a trend here?

Jason Babin is 6'2" 259 lbs and had 15 sacks in each of his Jr. and Sr. years in college as a defensive end. This only in 12 game seasons. In his Jr. year he had 26 tackles for loss total and in his Sr. year he had 33. Obviously, he was playing out of position. Don't give me anything about coming from a small college program either, Robert Mathis played for Alabama A&M.

Antwan Peek is 6'3" 250 lbs and had 27.5 sacks, 14 forced fumbles, 10 fumbles recovered, and 6 blocked kicks playing the strong side defensive end in college.

Sounds to me like we have the makings of a killer front 4 if you move Payne, Smith, Travis, and Walker into the mix. Personally, I think Walker's done. The guy was once good but is just too knicked up to play a full season ever again.

Then we can have Wong at inside linebacker where he played and excelled for the Vikings while putting Polk at outside linebacker along with Greenwood where they both feel more comfortable.

In the secondary, D Rob and Faggins at the corners with Coleman and Earl at safeties.

Imagine this, everyone playing the position they actually played before.

I would actually switch Phil Buchanon to offense where he doesn't have to try to hit anybody. I think an opponent's secondary would have to play a little more lose if you had AJ, Mathis and PBuch lined up wide against them.

I think we already have the horses we just have fools running things.

Last edited by mean mark8; 10-28-2005 at 04:05 PM.
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Old 10-28-2005   #6
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It's good to see a 4-3 discussion based on something other than our team's woes. The 3-4 works fine, the 4-3 works fine. Neither work fine here. My only concern with running a 4-3 is getting a rushing DE. In the 3-4, you have to have a NT that gets no glory, no attention, and chews up double-teams. That sets the table for what goes on from there. We have that in Payne. In the 4-3, you really need a stud down lineman that can rush the QB. Atlanta has Rod Coleman, the Colts have Freeney, the Seahawks have Wistrom, and the Titans have the leading sacker (forgot his name). The Jags have a slightly different approach, with Stroud and Henderson, but I would think it's even harder to find a duo of players with that skill level.

If we can come up with the end rusher that we need and he can still stop the run, we're golden. Babin's our best shot, IMO. He covers the run well and isn't totally lost in space. His rush is somewhat suspect to this point, however.
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Old 10-28-2005   #7
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Why would you think DD always has a great game vs. Indy? cause their d-line is undersized
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Old 10-28-2005   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by College Texan
Why would you think DD always has a great game vs. Indy? cause their d-line is undersized
We had net 139 yards against their defense. The entire NFL credits their D for their terrific start not their O. Disrupting the timing on offense is what it's all about. You do that by putting pressure up the field.

Indianapolis' defense is ranked 6th in the league, 6th against the pass and 16th against the run. They have 26 sacks, 12 INTs and have given up only 5 TD passes. Our vaunted 3-4 with the 300 lb linemen is 32nd against the run, with 9 sacks, 2 INTs and 9 TD passes. I think the math is pretty simple

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Old 10-28-2005   #9
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Also, a 4-3 end is hard to find, he needs to have the size to handle the run and be a pass rush specialist. A 3-4 defense is suppose to be easier to pass rush in, since the de are on top the tackles the olb is suppose to have a semi-clean shot at the qb depending on a te or rb blocking on them, but in either case they should blow past RB's trying to block them. Iv'e also noticed our 3-4 inside linebackers are a little deep on first and second downs, they are idealy suppose to be up close to seal the gaps and the ss and ilb to whom the play is opposite is suppose to make all the tackles. the 3-4 is suppose to stop people from getting wide also, making the olb a critical position in a 3-4.
think of the successful 3-4's. LT!!!, Dallas has a young LT prototype in ware, nosetackle has to be a hamptons steeler type NT. ILB should be peak and babin, cause of size to seal gaps.
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Old 10-28-2005   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eriadoc
If we can come up with the end rusher that we need and he can still stop the run, we're golden. Babin's our best shot, IMO. He covers the run well and isn't totally lost in space. His rush is somewhat suspect to this point, however.
I think Babin's been ruined by this coaching staff and philosophy. I can remember his first preseason game with all the starters in and he looked like a man possessed to get to the QB. These coaches drained that out of him. He has to play outside LB and make a bunch of reads rather than just get after the ball. Then he goes to the sideline and gets yelled at for not using proper LB technique. Put him at end and let him start ripping heads off.
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Old 10-28-2005   #11
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I noticed at Sundays game the Texans were running a defense at times
which only had 2 down lineman and this would have been on 1st or 2nd downs
and not necessarily 3rd and long. But on the 4-3 here in Houston, all of the
Texans downline would be tackles in the 4-3, with some of our OLBs being the only players on the team who could be potential 4-3 DEs and they are
all smallish for that position (4-3 DE). They don't call people like Babin and Peek tweeners for nothin.
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Old 10-28-2005   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by College Texan
ILB should be peak and babin, cause of size to seal gaps.
No...they need true LBs at the two inside spots. There are only a couple of guys in the league who have successfully made the transition from DE to ILB. One of the issues with the Texans defense is that they have drafted zero LBs who have the basic skills of the inside position.
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Old 10-28-2005   #13
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Have ya noticed we are in our nickle package alot, and still the OLB's peak and Babin( Orr now) would still not line up in a 3-point stance, they are uppright and are trying to pass rush, I wonder if this has something to do with us not getting too the QB. Our four man front is really a 2-man front.
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Old 10-28-2005   #14
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Some of the smaller DE's are best. This is because they have better leverage and explosion.
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Old 10-28-2005   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nunusguy
I noticed at Sundays game the Texans were running a defense at times
which only had 2 down lineman and this would have been on 1st or 2nd downs
and not necessarily 3rd and long. But on the 4-3 here in Houston, all of the
Texans downline would be tackles in the 4-3, with some of our OLBs being the only players on the team who could be potential 4-3 DEs and they are
all smallish for that position (4-3 DE). They don't call people like Babin and Peek tweeners for nothin.
The point I was trying to make about Freeney, Mathis, and Rice is that they are all undersized "tweeners" to most teams but legitimate defensive ends in the NFL that opposing offenses have to address in their game plans. JMO but I think both Babin and Peek could be defensive ends in the same mold. Might they get pushed back on some running plays, yes. Can they also blow past the OT trying to block them and make plays in the backfield, yes. Our defense hasn't blown anything up in the backfield since its first year.
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Old 10-28-2005   #16
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I think a 4-3 would be best for TJ, have ya seen his college clips, he was making muffins in the backfield. Peak is the only one that can be a 4-3 end, Babin wouold be good at LOLB assuming we blitz alot from the 4-3, Wong is a good MLB, Robair would be a good DT and if peak is the end he can be replaced by payne on goaline situations. Finding another end and ROLB would eb our main concerns.
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Old 10-28-2005   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArlingtonTexan
It has been discussed, but not from this angle. One thing to note is that three of those teams have played the Texans.

Honestly, both defense have their weakness and strengths. IMO, it matters more that you have really good pass rushers and put in a position to succeed than the name of the scheme.
I'll go along with that statement. Most of all, play to your players' strengths. Put them in a position to succeed. What is it the coaches don't understand about that statement?
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Old 10-28-2005   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mean mark8
The point I was trying to make about Freeney, Mathis, and Rice is that they are all undersized "tweeners" to most teams but legitimate defensive ends in the NFL that opposing offenses have to address in their game plans. JMO but I think both Babin and Peek could be defensive ends in the same mold. Might they get pushed back on some running plays, yes. Can they also blow past the OT trying to block them and make plays in the backfield, yes. Our defense hasn't blown anything up in the backfield since its first year.
i've said it before and completely agree. add javon kearse, jason taylor, leonard little, and many others to that list of "tweeners". granted, each of them (peek, babin, & orr) may want to put on 5-15lbs in the offseason, but they're prototypical pass-rushing DE's IMO. this strengthens our DT depth with smith, payne, walker, & TJ ... and with a couple second day picks or offseason signings makes adding depth to the ends easier. besides that fact, it eliminates the confusion that our current players apparently cant overcome with the current scheme and turns them back into players instead of thinkers.
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Old 10-28-2005   #19
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Great thread. I've never liked the 3-4. I remember the success the Oilers began to have once they ditched it.
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Old 10-29-2005   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Tejano
Great thread. I've never liked the 3-4. I remember the success the Oilers began to have once they ditched it.
Um, they were very successful with it. We went to two championship games with the 3-4 (we played a team named the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC title games)....we never got to that AFC title game in the era you are talking about.
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