Football 101: 4-3 vs 3-4

Discussion in 'Texans Talk' started by JayCee, Mar 7, 2007.

  1. JayCee

    JayCee Veteran

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    Just been reading the thread of the signing of Danny Clark and it got me thinking - what are the advantages / disadvantages of a 4-3 & 3-4 defense?

    I understand the basic concepts that in a 4-3 the DE rush the QB, and in a 3-4 the OLB rush the QB.

    Why would a team pick a 3-4 formation over a 4-3?
     
  2. TEXANS84

    TEXANS84 Moderator Staff Member

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    Disguise.
     
  3. Ole Miss Texan

    Ole Miss Texan Hall of Fame

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    basically you have the 4 guys up front rushing the whole time...against 5 OL. In a 3-4, you have the 3 guys up front rushing the whole time. you then have 4 linebackers...so the offensive line doesn't know where the 4th rusher is coming from...left middle or right.

    personally, i like the 4-3 we've switched to better.
     
  4. Texan_Bill

    Texan_Bill Subscribed Contributor

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    ^^^^^ what ole miss texan said ^^^^^^^

    The 3-4 can be very successfull, but you need all the right pieces. As witnessed, the Texans could never get those pieces put in place. They tried using 'tweener' players to try to make that work (i.e. Peek, Babin). The 3-4 can be effective in pursuit (sideline to sideline) but another downfall of the 3-4 can be that a strong offense that can run effectively between the tackles, can run right at you...
     
  5. thunderkyss

    thunderkyss Salem Poor

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    a 4-3 usually consists of a 4 man front, where a 3-4 consists of a 5 man front.

    With a 3-4, although you gain one man on the front, you lose size, but pick up speed. Generally speaking, DLmen are larger & slower than LBs.

    Even in a 4-3, a DE can drop into coverage, and a LB could be used to pressure the QB. This should be as confusing as any 3 man fronts. However finding a DL that is big enough to "push" OTs & athletic enough to actually drop in coverage isn't as easy as finding 2 LBs with enough speed to get around the edge, and pressure the QB.

    IMHO, and it's just my opinion, But the 5 man front gives the 3-4 an advantage against the run..... the extra speed (with the extra LB) gives it an advantage in pass protection.

    But your players have got to be smart & selfless.
     
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  6. thunderkyss

    thunderkyss Salem Poor

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    Tweeners wouldn't be a word, if it weren't for the 3-4. The goal is to find "tweeners" to play the 3-4.

    You need the speed of a LB, with the strength of a DE.

    That's Merriman, Porter, & McGinnest...... & Babin. That's Marcus Spears, Chris Canty, & Olshansky... And Mario Williams

    Tweener is not a four letter word, they're usually some of your better athletes.
     
  7. JayCee

    JayCee Veteran

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    So what makes a LB good in a 3-4 but not in a 4-3? I take it since it has been said that Orr would suit a 3-4, he was the speed to get around the edge, but why isn't he suitable for 4-3?
    What I'm struggling to understand is why would a LB be good in 3-4 but not in 4-3 where it appears to me that in a 3-4 they have more of an demanding role (main pass rusher, stop the run and coverage).

    Cheers for the advice though guys - I am truely starting to get addicted to this game!
     
  8. thunderkyss

    thunderkyss Salem Poor

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    If I'm not mistaken, Orr is a converted DE. In the NFL, he's not big enough to play DE. He's also not athletic enough to play LB. We've got him on the strong side, but he can't hang with a TE.

    True, that the role is more demanding. Peek should be a LB, but he supposedly can't be taught how to play the position. I don't know what that's about.
     


  9. texasguy346

    texasguy346 Mod Squad

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    An OLB in a 3-4 is generally closer in size with a 4-3 DE (250-270lbs). The coverage responsiblities of a 3-4 OLB is less demanding than those coverage responsibilities for a 4-3 OLB. For example a 4-3 OLB might be expected to cover the TE or slot WR in man coverage. You'd never expect a 3-4 OLB to cover a slot receiver. The 3-4 OLB are generally much better pass rushers & for the most part are converted DEs from the college ranks.
     
  10. Texan_Bill

    Texan_Bill Subscribed Contributor

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    LOL.... So that tells me that Orr isn't either one. He can always be a special teams demon... lol

    *Edit* late in the day, I meant to quote TK about Orr....
     
  11. nunusguy

    nunusguy Hall of Fame

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    It may have origionated as the term to describe players who were too small
    to be DEs and not agile or quick enough to be LBs in the 4-3, but ideal
    as 3-4 OLBs. Who knows, maybe some clever coachs conceived the scheme to take advantge of tweeners. I dunno, was it the chicken or the egg ?
    But it also is used for other players who have some skils/characteristics for
    2 different positions but not enough to be well suited for either.
    For example: SS/LB, DE/DT, TE/WR, etc.
     
  12. Texan_Bill

    Texan_Bill Subscribed Contributor

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    Thats kind of what I was trying to say... But after I re-read my post it sounds like I was saying just the Texans were looking for 'tweeners' and somehow implied thats why it didnt work for the them.. But you are right, the term tweener wouldn't exist without the 3-4....

    I also agree that when you find the right tweener, they are some of the better athletes on the field...
     
  13. Carr Bombed

    Carr Bombed Hall of Fame

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    Its much easier to find talent in the 4-3 than it is in the 3-4.

    Thats why I like the 4-3, this team being a expansion team should of never got fancy. I think messing around with the 3-4 when it was clear this team was lacking in the talent department put this team behind, especially when you have a GM that can't even find talent to fit in it.

    The 4-3 is much safer.
     
  14. MojoX

    MojoX Veteran

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    Here are some useful links:

    http://www.footballoutsiders.com/2005/06/16/ramblings/strategy-minicamps/2665/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_England_Patriots_Strategy

    I'm a big fan of 3-4 defenses.

    There are different ways of executing out of a specific formation. There is a diffence between what Capers was doing in Houston and what Wade was doing in San Diego. I remember Belichick once saying there is very little difference between the 3-4 and 4-3 zone blitz schemes. Can't find a link but here is something to chew on:

    Bill Belichick on the differences between 3-4 and 4-3:
    The style thing is really important. That is why a cat like Foley could leave Capers and look All Pro under Wade and probably why Peek might finally break out now that he is with the Browns.
     
  15. thunderkyss

    thunderkyss Salem Poor

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    I thought our defense was pretty stout in our early years... offense was the problem... or the bigger problem.
     
  16. Navy_Chris

    Navy_Chris All Pro

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    3-4 is much more complex for an offense to read and conquer. Richard Smith would like to run out of the 3-4 'occasionally' to catch offenses off guard. Haven't seen much of it though.
     
  17. dbspi

    dbspi Veteran

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    If you have good GM and coaching staff who excel in evaluating players and are good then it is not too difficult to find the personnel. Bottom line is that We had awful coaching staff and the GM who were just very bad when it came time to evaluate players and this is the reason we struggled so bad. Look at Dallas, SD, NE, or any other team play 3-4, they always find the players they need. Dallas built their 3-4 defense within 2 years where as we struggled during Capers time period.

    Look at our drafts and personnel move and that will tell you how awful our coaching and administrative staff were to begin with. Capers and Casserley were total ineptitude when it came time to evaluate players.

    Personally speaking I wished we still had 3-4 defense. I am not a big fan of 4-3 defense.
     
  18. Navy_Chris

    Navy_Chris All Pro

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    True. Very few teams in today's NFL excel at running the 3-4. When I say excel, I mean dominate. lol. I would prefer a 4-3 if I was DC of my team. I may throw in the occasional 3-4 wrinkle, but that's about it. I think the 3-4 exposes you to the run a lot more, also. That's a big downside to it, and a big reason I think only a handful of teams dominate with a 3-4.
     
  19. Stros5Texans80

    Stros5Texans80 Veteran

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    Would Mario Williams be able to play in a 3-4 Defense? Don't the DE need to be alittle on the big side to play that style?
     
  20. Navy_Chris

    Navy_Chris All Pro

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    He gets dominated by double teams already. He would fit in perfectly in a 3-4 defesnse.
     

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