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View Full Version : Cover 2, 4-3, and 3-4


devinhester=R.O.Y 2006
05-02-2007, 09:54 AM
I am newer to the boards and do not have a very good knowledge of the defensive side of the ball. I wondering if someone could give an indepth explanation of either the Cover 2, 4-3, or 3-4 defense. Thanks in advance.

Jughead10
05-02-2007, 09:58 AM
Rather than waste my time to explain it you can refer to this article for Cover 2.

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/index.php?p=167

bigbluedefense
05-02-2007, 09:59 AM
Here are some quotes from myself as well as others on the 3-4 defense. I went back and did a search, Im too lazy to say the same thing all over again, so just read up on these quotes and that should help you out some. I hope this helps. Any questions, let me know, I love talking defense. Its my specialty.




You knew I had to post in this thread right?

The 3-4 is the ****. W00t w00t!

But in all seriousness, let me explain in detail why I feel the way I feel.

First and foremost, the poll is far too basic. Youre referring to formations, and the formations' individual scheme can vary greatly between coaching styles. The 4-3 has many variations, Cover 2 being an example of it. Then you have the 46, and hybrids etc, its too basic of a definition to define just as 4-3.

My favorite defense is the 3-4 base that Bill Parcells and Bill Bellichick run. The 2 gap 3-4 that is based on LB zone coverages and man coverages on the outside. Its passive in nature, but can be aggressive when need be. It doesn't live and die with the blitz, but can still manufacture an effective pass rush.

And its versatility makes it a good front against any offense. It has had success against great offenses of many types, the 49ers WCO of the 80s, the Buffalo Bills no huddle Air Coryell, the Colts no huddle, the 2 TE smashmouth offense of Joe Gibbs....its been proven to be an effective scheme against any type of offense thrown at it.

Thats why its the best. Its won 5 SBs and its effectiveness against any offensive scheme makes it better than any defense. Cover 2 schemes are vulnerable to the Air Coryell and 2 TE power run game, the 46 is vulnerable to the WCO, the conventional 4-3 and its variations are often too difficult to build with little flaws because its difficult finding elite talent in every position of the conventional 4-3, and its basic fronts are less confusing to Qbs.

The 3-4 is also better against the run, which is ultimately what defense is all about. I can go on and on, I love talking Xs and Os of the game. My favorite schemes of all time are Bill Parcell's 3-4, Buddy Ryan's 46, Tom Landry's Flex 4-3, and the hybrid defense that Denver ran in the early 80s (to this day, that was probably the most complex defense Ive seen. They used so many situational players and player substitutions in different fronts, its not even funny. Brilliant defense).


Here are the Wikipedia descriptions of the FB-34 defense that I love, and also the ZB34 defense

The 3-4 defense was originally devised by Bud Wilkinson at the University of Oklahoma in the late 1940s [17]. Former Patriots and Oklahoma coach Chuck Fairbanks is credited with being a major figure in first bringing the 3-4 defense to the NFL in 1974 [18]. Patriots defensive coordinator Hank Bullough made significant further innovations to the system [19]. Parcells was linebackers coach under Ron Erhardt as head coach of the Patriots in 1980 (after Fairbanks left for Colorado in 1978 and Bullough lost out on the head coaching position). When Parcells returned to the Giants as defensive coordinator under Ray Perkins in 1981, he brought the 3-4 defense with him.

Bill Belichick was initially exposed to the 3-4 defense while working as an assistant under Red Miller, head coach of the Denver Broncos and a former Patriots offensive coordinator under Fairbanks. Joe Collier was the defensive coordinator under Red Miller at the time [20], and his orange crush defense was very successful at stifling opposing offenses. The Broncos had decided to adopt the 3-4 in 1977. Bill Belichick subsequently refined his understanding of the 3-4 as a linebackers coach and defensive coordinator under Parcells with the Giants. Belichick returned the 3-4 defense back to New England when he become coach of the team in 2000 [21]. Romeo Crennel subsequently became defensive coordinator for the team.

The New England Patriots run a modified base 3-4 Chuck Fairbanks - Hank Bullough system [10] installed by Bill Belichick. The term 3-4 means that their base formation consists of 3 defensive linemen, 4 linebackers, and 4 defensive backs. It is believed that this gives the defense the greatest amount of flexibility because the linebackers are capable of doing any of the following: rushing the quarterback, tackling runners or dropping into coverage. At times the Patriots will shade their defensive linemen different ways, creating "over" or "under" defenses. Over and under defenses simply refer to the shift of the defensive linemen to the strong or weak side of the offense, respectively, and the rotation of the linebackers in the opposite direction.

--------------------
The 3-4 zone blitz defense was developed by Dick LeBeau as defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It commonly calls upon linemen to be mobile enough to drop back into zone coverage in place of blitzing linebackers [25]. Elements of the 3-4 zone blitz defense have been incorporated over time into the modern Phillips 3-4.

They say the 4-3 is a player's defense, and the 3-4 is a coach's defense.

Players like the 4-3 because LBs can put direct hits on RBs, DEs can rush the passer, and DTs can penetrate.

In the 3-4 everyone's role is less "fun". LBs have to take on linemen and bubble around players, DEs have to hold their blocks, NTs have to occupy linemen as well...its not as fun for the player. Its more passive in nature.

The 3-4. It allows to you to put more speed on the field, be more agressive when necessary, but also sit back a little more if needed. It's much more effective at confusing offenses, as well.

This is actually a misconception of the 3-4 that is not true. The 3-4 uses bigger LBs who are stronger yet slower in coverage, and remember, just because you have 4 LBs opposed to 3 doesn't mean anything, because one of those LBs is rushing the qb anyway. Plus, the dlinemen are also bigger/stronger but slower, so team speed is decreased in the 3-4 opposed to the 4-3. This makes for better run stuffing because the front 7 is thicker up front, but worse pass coverage in general opposed to smaller quicker 4-3 defenses. The 3-4 relies more on scheme and confusion to hinder the pass game, where the 4-3 relies more on athleticism in general terms. I broke down the differences in an old post, it was quite long so I'll just copy and paste it onto here:

I also want to discuss this notion that the 3-4 is quicker than the 4-3. This is actually false.

We assume that because you have an extra linebacker, that your team defense is faster, but the truth is 3-4 defenses are slower than 4-3 defenses, and actually thicker when you add up the total body mass of the front 7.

The prototypical 3-4 has these respective weights.

DE - 290
NT - 340
OLB - 260
ILB - 250

Thats 1940 lbs of mass in the front 7.

The prototypical 4-3 bodyweights are

DE - 270
NT - 310
UT - 300
MLB - 240
SLB - 240
WILL - 235

Thats 1865 lbs of mass.

The 4-3 has smaller quicker linebackers who play the middle of the field faster than the 3-4.

Remember, while the 3-4 may have one extra LB, youre usually blitzing that LB, leaving 3 LBs in coverage who tend to be thicker than 4-3 Lbs, so you have less speed in coverage. Plus, your 3 downlinemen are essentially all DTs, so you get less overall speed out of the pass rush as well.

This is why the 3-4 is better against the run, but worst against the pass. You have a thicker front 7 against the run, and its spaced out so its difficult to bounce it outside as well. However, the overall weight of the front 7 reduces team speed, making coverage a little slower, and pass rush a little slower, thus equating to worse pass defense.

Don't believe me? Think about who has the best run defenses in the league. Dallas, Pittsburgh, and SD. All 3-4 teams. Who has the best pass defenses? Generally Cover 2 teams, built on speed and 4-3 fronts, like the Bears.

Bengals1690
05-02-2007, 10:02 AM
the three-four is a defense where the linebackers generate the pass rush through blitzes


the cover two basically doesnt allow a team to pass on you, and the pas rush is generated by the down lineman. Its basically a bend but dont break defense.

not too sure about the 4-3, i think it is the cover two with more blitzes and man coverage, but i could be wrong.

bigbluedefense
05-02-2007, 10:06 AM
This is a great link for anyone who would like to learn a better more detailed understanding of the Xs and Os of the game, on both sides of the ball.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_football_strategy

I don't know exactly how much you understand about football, but I recommend you read that link in detail. It will help you out and answer many of your questions.

devinhester=R.O.Y 2006
05-03-2007, 02:36 PM
Here are some quotes from myself as well as others on the 3-4 defense. I went back and did a search, Im too lazy to say the same thing all over again, so just read up on these quotes and that should help you out some. I hope this helps. Any questions, let me know, I love talking defense. Its my specialty.


If you ever have the time and are willing to write up any defensive stuff, I would love to read what you have to offer.

bigbluedefense
05-03-2007, 02:44 PM
If you ever have the time and are willing to write up any defensive stuff, I would love to read what you have to offer.

Oh man, just do a search on my stuff. Ive written essays on defense before. Check out the wikipedia link i posted. That will help you alot.

Any questions, just ask and Ill do my best to help. People have PM'd me questions before, its not a big deal.

devinhester=R.O.Y 2006
05-03-2007, 02:46 PM
Oh man, just do a search on my stuff. Ive written essays on defense before. Check out the wikipedia link i posted. That will help you alot.

Any questions, just ask and Ill do my best to help. People have PM'd me questions before, its not a big deal.

I printed out the wikipedia and plan on reading it tonight when my girlfriend watches grey's anatomy with her roomates.

Thanks for the info

bearsfan_51
05-03-2007, 02:49 PM
It's also worth noting, as I didn't see a differentiation, that the Cover 2 is not a defense, it's a cover scheme. The Tampa 2 is a type of defense, but each Dungy disciple has his own varients.

And the 4-3 isn't a defensive scheme, it's just a formation.

bigbluedefense
05-03-2007, 02:54 PM
It's also worth noting, as I didn't see a differentiation, that the Cover 2 is not a defense, it's a cover scheme. The Tampa 2 is a type of defense, but each Dungy disciple has his own varients.

And the 4-3 isn't a defensive scheme, it's just a formation.

He's not ready for all that yet. He's gotta crawl before he walks. Let him learn the basics first.

Shiver
05-03-2007, 03:40 PM
This is an impossible question. Because the way Wade Phillips' uses for the 3-4 is drastically different than Bill Belichick's defense. Both formations (3-4, 4-3) are successful when the talent, coaching, execution comes together. Both formations fail when those aforementioned characteristics do not work out. I've seen first hand what happens when a 3-4 defense doesn't have the personnel to execute the schematics. It's like the cliche' where all "West Coast Offenses" are grouped together, when each one is drastically different from the last.

Non_Sequitur
05-03-2007, 03:45 PM
4-6.

It's just impossible to get the personell in today's NFL.

yourfavestoner
05-03-2007, 05:32 PM
4-6.

It's just impossible to get the personell in today's NFL.

It's not "4-6." It's just "46." Forty-six. Buddy Ryan named it after his safety at the time, Doug Plank.

Non_Sequitur
05-03-2007, 06:24 PM
It's not "4-6." It's just "46." Forty-six. Buddy Ryan named it after his safety at the time, Doug Plank.

*Rolls eyes* Everyone understood what I meant.

Flyboy
05-03-2007, 06:27 PM
I printed out the wikipedia and plan on reading it tonight when my girlfriend watches grey's anatomy with her roomates.

Thanks for the info

You're not going to be watching Grey's as well? For shame.

devinhester=R.O.Y 2006
05-04-2007, 12:34 PM
You're not going to be watching Grey's as well? For shame.

I really have a lot to learn when it comes to defense after looking this stuff over.

High Roller
05-04-2007, 01:35 PM
I really have a lot to learn when it comes to defense after looking this stuff over.

You don't need to learn every aspect of each defense. If you have a generally idea of each one you'll be fine unless you plan on going really in depth with scouting, NFL analysis, etc.

DaBears9654
05-05-2007, 10:57 PM
You don't need to learn every aspect of each defense. If you have a generally idea of each one you'll be fine unless you plan on going really in depth with scouting, NFL analysis, etc.
I'd like to make a playbook, but I've only learned what goes into creating plays on offense.

In case anybody would like to offer some help or is simply curious, I like the Tampa 2 after seeing the Bears use it under Lovie Smith the past 3 years.

7-11
05-07-2007, 06:08 AM
jsut read through that, BBD impresses me bigtime. knows his stuff

JT Jag
05-07-2007, 07:08 PM
Here are some ideal players for the 3-4, general 4-3, and 4-3 Tampa 2 front 7s.

3-4
DE: Richard Seymour
NT: Jamal Williams
DE: Igor Olshansky

ROLB: Shawne Merriman
RILB: Mike Vrabel
LILB: Bart Scott
LOLB: DeMarcus Ware

4-3
RE: Aaron Kampman
UT: Tommie Harris
NT: John Henderson
LE: Julius Peppers

WLB: A.J. Hawk
MLB: Brian Urlacher
SLB: Keith Bullock

Cover 2
LDE: Dwight Freeney
DT: Tommie Harris
DT: Booger McFarland
RDE: Aaron Schobel

WLB: Lance Briggs
MLB: Brian Urlacher
SLB: Keith Bullock

Shiver
05-07-2007, 07:35 PM
let's not turn this into yet another lame "what players would you use" thread. we've got 3 months of absolute nothingness to do that.

Funny you should say that. I was just about to tear that list of "ideal" players to shreds.

The Unseen
05-07-2007, 07:37 PM
let's not turn this into yet another lame "what players would you use" thread. we've got 3 months of absolute nothingness to do that.

BBD - i'm suprised you don't just keep a small database with every essay you've written about defense. you could probably sell some of them to some of the football news sites.

We need a bigblueoffense to compliment him.

Shiver
05-07-2007, 07:39 PM
We need a bigblueoffense to compliment him.

I should change my name to bigredoffense. That would be swell.

yangjay
05-07-2007, 08:15 PM
Excuse my dumbness...but what do you guys mean by 2 Gap and so on? I'm not too informed about the lingo of the D-Line.

Another question, what variation of the 3-4 does the Niners run under Nolan?

Shiver
05-08-2007, 12:31 AM
Excuse my dumbness...but what do you guys mean by 2 Gap and so on? I'm not too informed about the lingo of the D-Line.

Another question, what variation of the 3-4 does the Niners run under Nolan?

The terms 1-gap, 2-gap, are in relation to the individual gap responsibilities. "Gaps" are the spaces in between the O-Lineman.


D [TE] C [OT] B [OG] A [OC] A [OG] B [OT] C [TE] D

There is also a numerical system, as well.

That's why so much importance is put on having that 'eighth' man in the box. Which is why dangerous passing teams open up holes in the running game. If you have an eight man defensive front, using a 1-gap scheme, you can have a man in every gap to stop the run. When you see a RB break a big run, it's almost always because someone messed up his assignment and wasn't in his gap.

In a 2-gap system, your D-Lineman have to control two gaps. Which is why the scheme is predicated on dominant players. Teams that play the 3-4, without the D-Line to support it, are lousy. Look at New England (Wilfork, Seymour, Warren), Pittsburgh (Hampton, Smith, Keisel), San Diego (Williams, Olshansky, Castillo) as an example of how great 3-4 teams are based on the D-Line.

sweetness34
05-08-2007, 12:51 AM
Just know this, the Tampa 2 owns all.

:D

Shiver
05-08-2007, 12:58 AM
Just know this, the Tampa 2 owns all.

:D

Any scheme when it has great players, coaching, execution "owns."

awfullyquiet
05-08-2007, 05:10 AM
4-6.

It's just impossible to get the personell in today's NFL.

the ravens?
sure it wasn't their base.
but it was clearly an integral part of their defensive schema.